‘The Millennial Dream’ Is About To Change Your World

Hemmings House Pictures is doing their part to nurture the conversation on the state of millennials in their new documentary, The Millennial Dream. With the hopes of arresting the growing exodus of young people from their home communities, the film not only looks at the changing values of a younger generation, but Hemmings House have also done what they can to lead by example. “That is the future of Hemmings House,” says Greg Hemmings, “to make measurable change locally with global relevance. We’re not selling the videos and making cool tv shows, we’re going to be selling the product of change.”

A few weeks ago, I was told that, as a millennial, I was ‘part of the generation that will never grow up’. I think I was supposed to be insulted by this. Instead, it made me wonder what’s so great about growing up, and exactly what is it that makes a grown up anyway. It’s come to mean different things recently, and that’s what The Millennial Dream has begun to examine, and why. But that’s a story familiar to most families. What matters is the consequences which can vary drastically, depending on where you are.

The Millennial Dream: Not a horror movie, just a sobering statistic
The Millennial Dream: Not a horror movie, just a sobering statistic

Having-It-All was the definition of the American Dream, practically the definition of adulthood, and it used to be taken more literally: owning a house, a car, and all the gadgets that made for a convenient life. For millennials, having it all is about having control over their daily lives. Convenience has less to do with having all the tools in the shed and more to do with being able to pick up and go at a moment’s notice. We want to have our cake and eat it, too. Even if it means shopping the discount bin.  Millennials are choosing to scrimp, and are enduring a form of self-inflicted poverty, in exchange for being able to afford less tangible, but more valuable, experiences.

Every lifestyle demands compromise. A millennial’s economy is defined by time, experiences, and relationships.  As our values continue to impact the economy, more trends are surfacing, such as the tiny house movement, farm-to-table eating, and minimalism. In the true spirit of embracing quality over material quantity, these phenomenons are a natural response to our need to bridge the growing gap between achieving what we want and having the financial means to do so.

Millennials are into finding work that provides a sense of meaning in life. This often comes at the cost of financial wealth. It’s not that we wouldn’t love to have our parents’ jobs, or at least the steady income, but if the cost is our souls’ contentment… is there really a choice?

A seeming paradox in the system might be that while millennials are the most educated generation yet, the standard to which they’ve tried to live up in their pursuit of further education is losing its relevance. The growing dissonance between the importance of higher education and its practical application is causing a disconnect.

The weight of student loans, and the lack of jobs available to those with university degrees may have some calling higher education in general irrelevant. This film suggests instead that it’s time to rethink the kind of degrees people are getting and our approach to education. The challenge will be for those who have been in charge of the education system to relinquish their own concepts of success in favour of the actual success of our future generations.

Seth Godin, not a millennial but an insightful marketer
Seth Godin, not a millennial but an insightful marketer

This documentary works to highlight the juxtaposition of purposes in both the American and the Millennial dream. The circumstances in which we’ve lived have created unique contexts causing our expressions of freedom to look drastically different while still hoping for the same thing.

For those living in the aftermath of the Second World War, freedom meant stability and consistency, being able to provide for one’s family. In the film, the American Dream is described as the transition from being judged by our heritage to being judged by how much money we were able to earn. Possessions became status symbols, the purpose to accumulate more.

Having not experienced the trials of living in war times, millennials picture freedom differently. Owning property isn’t a sign of stability. It’s a burden. Now that our net worth is no longer tied to our proposed value, the entire system that has marked the transition into adulthood is in question. Having a picket fence life isn’t necessarily a sign of prosperity but more likely a practicality for certain life choices. How our lives reflect our dreams and passions has become our benchmark for success instead.

As life’s options continue to grow, so does the level of uncertainty. Millennials have big dreams and are making progress at manifesting them. Their entrepreneurial spirit has directly impacted the workplace with the advent of more socially and environmentally conscious companies. Sure, food still needs to be grown and products still need to be made, but the companies that are doing their part to contribute back to their communities are the ones that millennials are more likely to support and start themselves.

Flexibility versus consistency, purpose versus diligence, legacy versus prosperity, and connection versus accomplishment fling the doors wide open, making millennials anything but cookie-cutter. The question of sustainability is what’s on the table now. It remains to be seen how the existing generational tension will be actively resolved to ensure that our collective dreams of freedom and prosperity, whatever they may end up looking like, are realized.

Hemmings House has developed its own ethos, one that largely, and not surprisingly, reflects a millennial’s dream work environment. As a certified B Corp corporation, they’ve tied themselves to many millennial ideals—sustainability, social consciousness, accountability and transparency. 

“We feel that we can build empathy through bridging communities of people together through documentary and photography, and those communities could be a brand and a customer base. That’s totally valid as well. That’s why what we do in our commercial space fits the vision. As long as we’re supporting the company through creating positive impact in the world then it fits. Our passions are our original content, and we want to make original content stories that change the world and make it a more positive place.”

Join the conversation at upcoming screenings throughout New Brunswick:

March 16th – St. Stephen
March 17th – Moncton
March 18th – Fredericton
March 19th – Miramichi

For more information check out their website.