‘Finding Hygge’ film explores Danish happiness


By Anna Skinner

When Rocky Walls and Zach Downs first made a trip to Denmark in May 2016, they were unfamiliar with the term ‘hygge’ (pronounced hoo-ga), which means coziness. Hygee has recently gained popularity in the U.S.

Wall and Downs decided to explore the concept more in the version of a feature film, producing it through the Fishers company they co-own, 12 Stars Media.

“Hygge is to the Danes like freedom is to the Americans,” said Walls, the film’s director and producer. “It’s like coziness, or the feeling that you have when you’re in an environment where you feel very safe and comfortable. In 2016, a lot of people (Americans) reached a point where they were fed up with how easy it was to be unhappy. People started looking for things to brighten their lives a bit, and this concept of hygge came up. We started to look into it and thought it was something it might be worth sharing with the world. Danes are consistently ranked among the happiest (people) in the world, so if they know something we don’t know about being happy, we could find that out maybe and share with the world.”

The pair returned to Denmark and the United Kingdom, this time with a staff of 17 from the 12 Stars Media team. They spent five days in Denmark and three days in the U.K. to gather enough information to be made into an approximately 90-minute feature film. Normally, 12 Stars Media creates videos for a company or organization’s website, typically three minutes in length.

“The biggest thing is that we actually followed around and interviewed and really dug into the lives of actual Danish families and professionals so we could get a glimpse into their real lives,” Walls said.

The plan is to have the film ready by next spring. The duo has already compiled a list of film festivals, both national and worldwide, they plan to submit the film to. The film’s distribution method has not been determined.

In addition to collecting footage for the film, the team also learned some important lessons about the hygge concept.

“The biggest surprise I think for me is hygge is a lot of times subjective, even from Dane to Dane,” said Downs, also a producer of the film. “The commonality being that it’s the idea of relaxing, enjoying the moment. It’s just kind of like being in that moment, putting things away, enjoying the company around you, and again that all kind of turns into something different from individual to individual. None of it’s like extreme ideals or anything. It’s just enjoying what’s around you.”

“There are also more things that you have to think a little deeper about, like being present,” Walls added. “Mindfulness came up a lot.”

Downs said 12 Stars Media is focusing on completing the project before it considers creating other feature films.

For more, visit findinghyggefilm.com or visit the Finding Hygge Film Facebook page.