Private Project

Dust to Light

Dust to Light is a 12 minute documentary about what is really going on under the surface when we are cleaning. The film listens as four Zen practitioners reflect on the transformative process of cleaning when it is approached as a meditation rather than burdensome chore.

  • Erika Houle
    Director & Cinematographer
  • Justin Andrews
    Editor & Colorist
  • Masatora Goya
    What's Invisible
  • Jeeyun Lee
    Sound Designers
  • Josh Allen
    Sound Designers
  • Marcel Morschhauser
    Title Animator
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 40 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 31, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
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  • Language:
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Director Biography

Erika Houle is a cinematographer, director, and documentary filmmaker based in New York. She has worked around the world on feature films, documentaries, commercials, and episodic television shows. Her early work as a documentary cinematographer took her across the country and internationally to India and Haiti. She shot for Equal Means Equal, the feature documentary film cornerstone of the movement to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Houle lived in Morocco while working on the 2015 mini-series Tut and continues working in the camera department on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

In 2016 she received her master’s in Art, Education, & Community Practice from Steinhardt, NYU. She also does experimental work, most recently directing a music video for Joan Baez’s 2019 Grammy nominated album Whistle Down the Wind.

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Director Statement

Cleaning is an activity everyone either loves or hates. Dust to Light organically grew out of my own personal transformation from loathing to cherishing the activity of cleaning. My hope is that this film helps others to understand how they relate to cleaning and to find a more balanced way.

This film came about as a byproduct of a visit to the Tea Sage Hut in Miao Li, Taiwan. The Hut was a Zen & Tea training center visited by people from all over the world. As a Zen center, cleaning is an important element of the daily practice. Cleaning is scheduled into each day and is often a group activity. Zen practice transformed my own relationship to cleaning from resentment to appreciation. The once irritating task of washing the dishes became full of peace and gratitude.

As I was also recording an audiobook with the Hut's residents I had the mic ready and the opportunity to interview them. This film is a brief exploration of our collective transformations. May it inspire you to examine a seemingly mundane part of your day more closely and to appreciate your life more fully.