The Happiest Place on Earth

When Jonah, recently fired from his newspaper job, goes mysteriously missing, his young wife Maggie has to weigh the hopes of his return against impending financial breakdown. The anxiety of the following days threatens to tip her over the edge, yet she hopes any moment could provide the answer to the puzzle of what happened to her husband.

  • John Goshorn
  • John Goshorn
  • John Goshorn
  • Kate Jacobs
  • Julie Opala
  • Tom Kemnitz, Jr.
    Key Cast
  • Jennifer Faith Ward
    Key Cast
  • Marco DiGeorge
    Key Cast
  • Peg O'Keef
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 21 minutes 5 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 16, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    12,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 25th Cinequest Film Festival
    San Jose, CA
    February 27, 2015
    World Premiere
    (Nominated) Best Feature Film - Dramatic
  • 22nd Twin Rivers Media Festival
    Asheville, NC
    September 11, 2015
    North Carolina premiere
    (Nominated) Best Feature Film
  • 2015 Maverick Movie Awards

    October 5, 2015
    (Nominated) Director, Lead Actress, Cinematography, Editing
  • 10th Orlando Film Festival
    Orlando, FL
    October 23, 2015
    Florida premiere
    Official Selection
  • 11th River's Edge International Film Festival
    Paducah, KY
    November 7, 2015
    Kentucky premiere
    (Nominated) Best Narrative Feature
  • 30th Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    November 14, 2015
    South FL premiere
    (Nominated) Best Florida Feature
  • 12th Blow-Up Chicago International Art House Film Festival
    Chicago, IL
    December 20, 2015
    Illinois Premiere
    Official Selection
  • 11th Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival
    Lafayette, LA
    January 21, 2016
    Louisiana premiere
    (Nominated) Best Narrative Feature
Distribution Information
  • Multicom Entertainment
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - John Goshorn

John Goshorn was born and raised in a rural Virginia town an hour from the nearest movie theater. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Multimedia Film and Production at Georgia Southern University, having previously taught cinema studies, screenwriting, and film production at Full Sail University and the University of Central Florida. Goshorn holds a Bachelor of Science in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University, a Master of Fine Arts in Film from the University of Central Florida and a professional acting certificate in the Sanford Meisner technique from Truthful Acting Studios. THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH is his debut feature film as writer, director and producer.

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Director Statement

In a 1977 article in Film Comment, Robin Wood lists what he calls the essential “values and assumptions so insistently embodied in and reinforced by the classical Hollywood cinema.” Among them: capitalism, the work ethic, marriage and family, “progress, technology, and the city,” and success and wealth. But perhaps most striking is the notion of “America as the land where everyone is or can be happy.” THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH takes aim at all these ideals, none more so than the last, which encapsulates the rest and demonstrates a fundamental flaw of the mythic “American Dream.”

Since the publication of Wood’s article, and even more so since the turn of the millennium, middle-class ideals widely considered to be the most viable pathways to happiness – true lasting love, material security, and a safe “nest” in which to raise a family – have grown increasingly elusive in America. Wealth has been distributed upward, jobs have been distributed overseas or evaporated entirely, the national debt has skyrocketed, personal debt has dwarfed personal savings, and the marriage rate has steadily declined. In light of these developments, clinging to these core beliefs of the “American Dream” as presented by the movies often seems to be a willful act of delusion.

THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH was conceived in the wake of my own layoff from a local television job due to the economic downturn. As I wrestled with questions of why and how, and developed coping strategies, I was also struck by how my circumstances could have been much worse, how desperate I might have become if they were, and why. As I wrote, I realized that I was far less concerned with the mechanics of the plot than the national – and human – psychology the plot revealed. Namely, our tendency to pursue -- often at great cost -- an image of what life "should" be, even if that ideal only exists as mythology.

The film borrows from cinéma vérité (“found” footage and documentary compositions), Italian Neorealism (real locations, actors whose lives resemble the characters’), and Dogme 95 (handheld cameras and available lighting). These techniques facilitate an unvarnished presentation of how we compromise our ethics and our relationships in pursuit of a life that bears no more resemblance to our everyday lives than a fairytale.