AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- You may have seen the image of a smiling robot with the word “Happy” beneath it on posters and stickers throughout the CSRA. A new full-length documentary premiered in downtown Augusta Saturday night about the story behind the “Happy Campaign.”
The cartoon’s creator, Leonard Zimmerman has a lot to be happy about.
“I woke up crying this morning…but it was happy tears because this going to be going out to even more people who will hopefully get a smile from this,” he said.
A documentary about his life, “Happy: A Small Film with a Big Smile” premiered Saturday night at the Imperial Theater.
His “happy” cartoon has spread all over the world.
“It all started with five posters with a smiling robot face that I just stuck downtown,” Zimmerman said. Most people don’t know anything about the man behind the design. He’s a graphic designer from Augusta.
Michael McKinley, an interior designer from Milwaukee, learned of Zimmerman through social media, but when he heard Zimmerman’s Ted Talk, he knew he wanted to share his story.
“Leonard’s story was so inspiring to me I decided that more people needed to hear it and see it,” McKinley said.
He took a leap of faith– reaching outside his field of expertise to produce and direct a documentary about Zimmerman’s life, which has not always been as happy as his robot cartoon would suggest. Zimmerman was devastated when his partner Brian passed away about ten years ago.
“He didn’t have smiles for a long time,” McKinley said. “Once he finally find them for himself again, he decided to spread more, which is why there’s a happy robot all over the world.”
Now, crowd funding has raised tens of thousands of dollars to get the documentary off the ground. McKinley says his next goal is to submit the film to about 80 film festivals around the world.
“He said if you can do one thing for me, have a fantastic life, and I think I’m actually doing that now,” Zimmerman said.
The film will also play at the Southern City Film Festival in Aiken in November.
“Happy: a Small Film with a Big Smile” still needs to raise tens of thousands of dollars to reach its goal. You can donate here.