Vimeo viewers to Johnny Barnes: We love you
A short film about Johnny Barnes posted on the internet has received more than 100,00 views in just three days.
Filmmaker Mat Morris of Florida travelled to Bermuda in 2010 to make the film called Mr Happy Man.
It has since appeared in documentary film festivals all over the United States.
I made the film because as a filmmaker, Im attracted to characters who have found unique ways of living their lives and as a result have found happiness, Mr Morris said. No one embodies that more than Johnny Barnes. I think the films success can be attributed to a lot of things, but most of all its because of peoples desire to be happy and loving. We all fall short of that goal at times and are in need of some inspiration. For everyone in Bermuda, Johnny can provide that inspiration. My job has been to help Johnny bring his message to a larger audience.
Mr Morris is convinced the world would be a better place if everyone drove past a person like Mr Barnes in the morning.
Morris earlier made a film called Pickin and Trimmin which got 120,000 hits in two months.
I took all those lessons learned and applied them to the online release of Mr Happy Man, he said. The film is shorter and has an inspiring, universal message, so I hoped it would catch on like it has.
He said people seeing the film without having met Mr Barnes go through a period of disbelief and suspicion. They initially question his sanity, but then see him as a profound individual who has found his calling in life.
Even better, he has dedicated his life to giving to others and expecting nothing in return, said Mr Morris. When sitting in screenings of the film with an audience, my favourite reaction is when Desmond Fountains statue [of Mr Barnes] is revealed. The audience is audibly surprised and overjoyed that Johnny hasnt been treated just as a local curiosity but has been properly honoured for a lifetime of giving love and happiness.
He said while he was filming he noticed that many residents take Mr Barnes for granted, and drive past without waving. He thought this was sad.
Sometimes when something in your life is so consistent, you forget how special it is in the first place, he said. I remember walking with my cameraman, Hector Osuna, who was working with Panatel VDS at the time, and a passer-by asked us what we were doing. I told him we were making a film about Johnny Barnes. He asked me where I was from and I told him Florida. His response was You came all the way out here just for Johnny Barnes?
I hope the reaction to the film will not only help Johnny reach a larger audience than the folks who drive by him every morning, but remind those who do see him each day just how special he is and not to take him for granted.
See the film on www.mattmorrisfilms.com
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