'Mr. Happy Man': Matt Morris' Documentary On One Man's Mission To Spread Happiness (VIDEO)
88-year-old Johnny Barnes stands on the street corner in his town in Bermuda for six hours every day and shouts, "I love you!" For 28 years, he has been an instigator of happiness and a purveyor of love. He is Mr. Happy Man.
Short documentary filmmaker Matt Morris stumbled upon Barnes while browsing Flickr. Known for his previous documentaries on interesting older folks, "Pickin' & Trimmin'" and "Watermelon Man," Morris said Barnes' story was a perfect fit for the work he was trying to create.
"Once I knew the whole story, I knew I wanted to make a film about him," Morris said in an email to The Huffington Post. "Johnny is inspirational not just for his altruistic attitude, but for his incredible dedication to making other people happy through what might seem like a very odd ritual but means a lot to the people who pass by him."
Barnes gained the name Mr. Happy Man after getting stuck at a busy intersection while walking through his town of Hamilton City, according to Morris' Kickstarter page for the project. Instead of grumbling about it, he took the opportunity to make commuters' days by bidding them good morning with a wave. Twenty-six years later, and his routine is the same.
"As far as Johnny Barnes goes, who can get to know him without having a smile plastered on their face?" Morris said. "I've never seen anyone as dedicated to living a loving, happy life and sharing it with others. I've been really lucky in that I've been able to help Johnny spread his message to an audience larger than the one that passes him every morning on Crow Lane."
In a behind-the-scenes clip of Barnes he adds,"I greet people and let them know that live is sweet. Life is beautiful. No matter what happens in life, it's always sweet to be alive. Enjoy the sunshine, the flowers, the birds -- they're happy. The good lord and I are just trying to make people happy."
In a way, Morris mirrors the characters in his films -- a man doing what he loves and loving the people around him.
"I've always said that I've been drawn to these characters because they've spent their lives doing what they love to do, even if it's off the beaten path," Morris said. "As a filmmaker, I'm pursuing a career that is off the beaten path and I hope that as a result, I'll be just as happy as they are when I reach their age."
Watch "Mr. Happy Man":