Headed East – Finding Happiness in The Modern World

By Seán McHugh

Filmmakers Jack Harries and Fraser Rigg’s new short film ‘Headed East’ combines the themes of youth, mental health and ambition to achieve a vision of how to find happiness, by rejecting technology and accepting adventure.


It is remarkable watching ‘Headed East’ to see how five minutes and twelve seconds can capture so much of what life is like as a young person in the 21st century. Mental health, achieving success, building relationships and looking after our own well-being are issues that have become complicated with the rise of social media and technology in recent years. Harries takes on these issues through his own narration, exploring how his social media success has only left him feeling hollow as he surrounded himself with virtual relationships that kept him isolated. This results in the all too common feelings of depression that are widespread within the youth generation of today. How Harries deals with this struggle is simple, he leaves technology behind and heads out with co-director and camera man Fraser Rigg on a journey to Budapest that crosses 10 countries and 10,000 kilometres.

As their adventure unfolds on film, it is perhaps the use of celluloid 16mm film that truly captures the spirit of freedom within the film. Sunshine through the trees, the blur of water lapping upon the shore and dancing embers as fires crackle all show a removal from modern technology. Everything is recorded without a filter and in a simple resolution to bring an authenticity to the film as you watch the brief candid moments of the trip being recorded as they happen and with no staging. The sounds of the forests and motorcycles all add to the subtle ambiance that is strengthened by soft acoustic soundtrack that evokes a true feeling of wanderlust. The film then does not simply show you the trip but feels like it brings you along for the ride.

Harries states that living in London he feels he is missing a sense of identity, of purpose and that this trip is his own way of connecting not only to Rigg and the people he meets but also to himself. The film shows the smiling faces of people they meet along the journey, shared moments spent with one another and a sense of joy and repose that comes with being in tune with the world around us. Harries and Rigg then come together in their filmmaking to offer a simple but important message: do not let technology and society forget who you are or deny you following your happiness. Whether it be a motor biking trip across the continent or simply leaving your phone at home for the day, it is up to us to ensure that technology and social media will never be a substitute for freedom, happiness and adventure.

Imagery by: Jack Harries and Fraser Rigg; Headed East - A Motorcycle Journey Into The Wild  (Available to pre-order here)

Kabyashree Saikia