This video contains graphic depictions of suicide that may not be appropriate for everyone.
Almost everyone has found themselves depressed at a point or two. Maybe in the midst of the depression you thought about doing something drastic—something life-changing—something that might make you happy. That could be nice, but it's scary to actually take the leap and do it. Well, what if there was a service that took care of all the hard stuff for you?
That's the premise of director Colin Tilley's new short film, Mr. Happy. The film follows Victor, a depressed young man played by Chancelor Bennett—better known as Chance the Rapper—who is looking for a way out of everything. Victor wants to escape his menial job at the local Supply Guyz, escape the small talk with his drug-addled coworker, escape his ex who's getting fucked in some rich guy's pool. Even though killing himself sounds like the best solution, Victor just can't bring himself to do it.
With no one to turn to, Victor heads to the internet, where he finds the answer to his problem in the peculiarly low-budget website, MrHappy.com. After a series of simple questions akin to Futurama's classic Suicide Booth, the kill date is confirmed for two days later: February 14, Valentine's Day. It would seem to be a hallmark ending for Victor, but a chance interaction at work the next day with a pretty artist starts to brighten his world and make him question that no-refunds, no-cancellation contract he just took out on himself.
Director Colin Tilley asks some serious questions in this short film, questions even he's not able to answer. Life, love, happiness, sadness, and death are all connected, and the question Mr. Happy asks is "Is it worth it?"
Check out a short interview with Tilley below.
VICE: Are you trying to tell the audience something about yourself with the Mr. Happy suicide hotline?
Colin Tilley: No, not at all. I'm actually a really happy guy. But, I was honestly really excited to dive deep into this suicidal character through film. I read about him, I've known people like him, but I've never experienced these type of emotions before in my life. Capturing this feeling, I definitely had to dive into a darker space than I'm used to living in.
The film brings up a number of controversial topics from euthanasia to society's inability to deal with mental instability and today's discontentment of youth. Do you feel a system like MrHappy.com is a positive thing to have in the world?
I feel like MrHappy.com is a really serious subject. I'm pretty sure there are similar things that exist out there on the deep web. I have never witnessed it myself, but I've definitely read stories that sounded pretty similar. I think that if you want to end your life there should be a way to do it, but not in such a romantic way. This website in general is something very controversial—it's a weird look into what the future could hold for us.
How did you connect with Chance the Rapper? What was the impetus for him to star in the film?
I met Chance on a video that I was directing for Justin Bieber. We were shooting Chance's part and we got to hang out all day and got into some really cool conversations. Chance is like one of the most down-to-earth people I've ever met and right away I was like, This dude is really special. We talked about film and he was telling me how he wanted to get more involved in it. Crazily enough, he had a lot of the same taste in weird movies as I do. A couple days later I get pitched this idea for Mr. Happy. After getting together with my friends who wrote it—Steve Mcclean and David Singer-Vine—I sent it to Chance, he loved it. After trying to find a consecutive five days in his whirlwind of a schedule we figured it out and shot the movie.
The paintings in the film are killer. Can you talk a little bit about the meaning behind them and what you wanted their visual style to achieve? Also, who's the artist?
Dude! The paintings are so good. Around the same time we were creating the script, my good friend Kevin Spring started up painting again, and he was creating these really cool dark portraits of different people. I actually let him read the script and he was like, "Fuck dude I want to paint Chance how I see him in the film." So before we even shot the film. he painted the cover art. I guess it just all worked super seamlessly. Luckily I'm surrounded by so much talent in all areas of art. Now I have that painting hanging in the living room in my house. Thanks Kev!
What are you working on now?
I'm already working on the next couple short film ideas, and putting the finishing touches on a couple of feature scripts that me and some friends have been working on over the last couple years.
Colin Tilley is an award-winning music video director who has written and directed music videos for artists including Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Nicki Minaj, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Diddy, Usher, Melanie Fiona, Keri Hilson, Wiz Khalifa, and UK rappers Chipmunk and Dappy, among others. Colin Tilley has won several awards including video of the year at the 2011 BET Awards for Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" video and Best Male video at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards for Justin Bieber's "You Smile." He was nominated for three videos at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards including best male video, best hip-hop video, and best collaboration video.
Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as a film curator. He's the Senior Curator for Vimeo's On Demand platform. He has also programmed at Tribeca Film Festival, Rooftop Films, and the Hamptons International Film Festival.