Based on the life of Leonard Porkchop Zimmerman, HAPPY is more than merely an artist’s story. It’s a film about being knocked down, and making the very conscious decision to carry on. It a film about finding that one thing that gives you strength, eases your pain, and in time... helps you find your happiness.

Love, loss, grieving, and the incredible healing power of art, are all running themes in this inspiring documentary feature, filmed in Georgia.

  • Michael Patrick McKinley
  • Michael Patrick McKinley
  • Denton Adkinson
  • Derek Degenhardt
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 20 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 16, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    34,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    RED Mysterium
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Augusta Premiere
    Augusta, GA
    United States
    July 23, 2016
    North American Premiere
  • Phoenix Film Festival
    United States
    April 7, 2017
    WINNER: Sydney K. Shapiro Humanitarian Award
  • Manchester International Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    March 3, 2017
    WINNER: Staff Pick
  • MIlwaukee Film Festival
    Milwaukee, WI
    United States
    September 30, 2016
    Nomination: Cream City Cinema Award
  • Out on Film Atlanta
    United States
    October 19, 2018
    WINNER: Best Documentary Feature (Jury), and Best Documentary Feature (Audience)
  • San Luis Obispo Film Festival
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    United States
    March 17, 2017
    Nomination: Best Documentary Feature
  • Savannah Film Festival
    Savannah, GA
    United States
    October 22, 2016
    Nomination: Best Feature Documentary
  • Chelsea Film Festival
    New York City
    October 15, 2016
  • QCinema
    Fort Worth
    United States
    November 3, 2018
    WINNER: Audience Favorite
  • LONDON International Filmmakers Festival of World Cinema
    United Kingdom
    February 16, 2017
    UK Premiere
    Nomimations: Best Director, Documentary Feature and Best Editing, Documentary Feature
  • Southern City
    Aiken, SC
    United States
    November 5, 2016
    South Carolina
  • Weyauwega International Film Festival
    Weyauwega, Wisconsin
    United States
    November 9, 2016
  • Carrboro Film Festival
    Carrboro, South Carolina
    United States
    November 19, 2016
    North Carolina
  • Fargo Film Festival
    Fargo, North Dakota
    United States
    March 23, 2017
    North Dakota
  • Filmfest Homochrom
    March 18, 2017
    German Premiere
    Nomination: Best Documentary Feature
Distribution Information
  • 18 Month distribution contract with 7th Art Releasing from July 2017 thru December 2018
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Michael Patrick McKinley

Though his education is in Interior Design, Michael Patrick McKinley isn't one to shy away from new creative avenues or endeavors. "I really didn't start exploring my creative self fully, until I went to design school in my late 20's. That expanded exposure to the creative arts definitely sparked something within. "

By his mid 30's, he was doing product development for an Indonesian furniture company, experimenting with canvas and paints, and scratching a serious writing itch by contributing to a series of lifestyle blogs, aimed at sharing positive information and inspirational stories.

For 5 years he managed jazz singer and television personality Cassandra McShepard, creating various web-based projects for her, which required dipping his toes into the world of video production.

" Over the years, I've learned to experiment without fear of failure. Trusting my instincts while flexing that faith muscle, has taught me that if I can visualize something, I can manifest it. Sometimes that means loosening my grip on vision, and trusting both process and the talents of others to help me co-create."

A native of Santa Maria, California, McKinley has spent the last 25 years in Wisconsin, claiming to be a 'Midwesterner at heart." HAPPY is his directorial debut.

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Director Statement

Most of the robots in Leonard Zimmerman's paintings are void of the identifications we saddle ourselves with, like race, gender, and sexuality. In one of HAPPY's interviews, artist Chase Lanier says that this "provides an access point for all people".

I believe this film, in many ways, also has access points for all people. HAPPY is a story with many themes. Love, loss, overcoming obstacles, and the incredible healing power of artistic expression. HAPPY is a story for EVERYONE.

With each phase of production, it became clearer to me that I was in service to this story. That it was my responsibility to deliver a film that not only honored Leonard and his journey, but could also help propagate his simple, yet beautiful statement of positivity, to a world that could certainly use more of them.

I believe that my exceptionally talented team and I have accomplished just that. Much like Leonard's HAPPY campaign, it is now my sincere wish that this film make it's way around the globe. To touch, to inspire....and to keep spreading that contagious smile.

Michael Patrick McKinley, July 2017