Project Happiness: A Conversation With Randy Taran - Page 2
Next we thought, what if we brought in a Buddhist perspective? So we looked into the Dalai Lama’s present home town of Dharamsala, India and it was there where we found the Tibetan Children’s Village . We spoke to the Principal there and the kids were very interested, especially with the chance to meet the Dalai Lama. We gave everyone cameras to share video diaries and have online exchanges. We had very profound discussions going.
gJg: What made you decide to bring celebrities into the discussion?
RT: We wanted to bring into the film people who the kids resonated with. So we had the kids make a list. Luke, one from California school had written an essay on the similarities between the Jedi Code and the Dalai Lama’s principles. We sent that to George Lucas and that opened him up to the idea of sitting down and chatting with the kids. He was very kind to give us such a lovely interview.
Richard Gere was terrific as well and because of his relationship with the Dalai Lama he introduced a whole new perspective. He spent quite a bit of time with the kids and even stayed longer then planned.
We also wanted to bring some science into the discussion as well. Happiness actually has a whole scientific underpinning to it. So we spoke with Richard Davidson. whom we had met at one of his conferences.
Then of course, we had the visit with the Dalai Lama, which was truly a life changing experience for them.
gJg: For me personally, when everyone was talking with the Dalai Lama you could literally feel the energy coming right off the screen. It was as if everyone had an epiphany.
RT: Being in that room, it was palpable. There was a real energy about it that knocks you over. It was unforgettable!
gJg: What has the reaction to the film been like?
RT: It’s been terrific. We’ve won many awards all over the US and around the world. The award I love the best is the “It’s Ok To Be Different” award from the Seoul International Youth Festival. We want everyone to feel that it is OK to be different and express yourself.
gJg: There is also a book to accompany the film as well. Tell me a little about that.
RT: The initial idea was to make a movie but also to challenge the kids to tell us what they felt were the most important things about happiness and what other kids around the world would want to know. The feedback we received, combined with some of the best thought leaders in positive psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness became a book to accompany the film.Continued on the next page