Thrive With Less

Lansing, MI
United States

The film "Thrive With Less," created by six MSU students, has gained attention from the Lansing/East Lansing community and continues to attract recognition from a national and international audience.

What began as a class project quickly turned into a local phenomenon. Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) senior Matt Radick, along with five other MSU students, created the film Thrive With Less for a documentary studies class capstone course in the Spring 2012 semester. The hour-long documentary follows the students for a month as they live minimally through a series of challenges ranging from not eating out to limiting their wardrobe to one pair of pants and four shirts. The students also documented their experience through a written blog and individual video blogs.

Recently, the film has gained attention from Michigan State University’s online news and The Lansing State Journal, as well as logging over 4,500 views on Vimeo. The filmmakers held a premiere event at Gone Wired Cafe, at which they had a screening of the film, a post-film discussion with the filmmakers, and live music. The event was held on June 16th, 2012 and drew over 100 people.

Response to the film has been overwhelmingly positive, with many people saying that they’ve started their own challenges based on the ones in the film. There has also been international response from people writing in from countries such as the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, and Peru. Radick particularly remembers one contact from France who said that he was going through the same issues that the filmmakers experienced in Thrive With Less. “He was talking about [how] he feels really really disconnected from what he’s passionate about, and he said that in looking at our project, he realized he has to do something to cut back on other stuff and reconnect with what’s important to him,” said Radick. “I think in a way it goes to show how universal these ideas are, and that they can affect anyone anywhere.”

Working on Thrive With Less prepared Radick for his senior research project for the RCAH. He is making a documentary film about the ways in which community artistic spaces and collaboratively created art can serve to educate people about art and activism. He has already visited artists and creative spaces in New York, where he is doing much of his filming. The rigorous production schedule and lessons on living frugally that Radick experienced through Thrive With Less made going to New York and filming an independent project seem much less daunting. “Before working on this film [Thrive With Less], I would not have able to think, ‘Yeah, I’d be able to make a documentary for a thesis project,’” said Radick. “Now I feel confident in my ability to do that.”

Currently, the Thrive With Less team is taking a summer break, but they plan on submitting the film to various film festivals. In the fall, they also hope to tour cities around the Midwest to screen the film and create dialogue with communities. “That’s what we’re aiming to do, more than anything else, to connect with people through this,” said Radick.

To view the film and find more information about Thrive With Less, visit

Story by Linnea Jimison, RCAH Communications Intern

Additional Media
See video