My Millennial Life gets up close with the struggles of twenty-somethings

Documentary features former George Brown student as she pushes for career in marketing

A new documentary, My Millennial Life, intimately looks at the lives of five twenty-somethings as they navigate their aspirations, disappointments, and concerns after school.

Emily Smillie, a George Brown graduate, is one of the five featured in the documentary. Smillie had previously studied sports and events marketing at George Brown when she met director Maureen Judge, who is also her landlord. Judge had asked Smillie to begin working on a few video diaries for her new project on millennials.

“When (Judge) approached me she was like ‘I’m thinking of making a film.’ She said ‘just do some video diaries on how you feel daily,’” Smillie said. The former George Brown student is the only subject in My Millennial Life who films herself.

The documentary follows four others, Tim, Meron, James, and Hope, as they search for a way to become financially independent and follow their dreams. But each of the five Judge follows are searching for something different, success in the tech industry, online media and even through music.

What ties all these individuals together is the fact that they have big dreams but find themselves stuck in a malaise, surviving in menial jobs, or terrified of failure while hunting for their big break.

With filming in Toronto, New York and Philadelphia, My Millennial Life creates the feeling that what is happening on the screen is becoming normal for young people in many parts of the world. For Judge, the struggles of millennials to make it register both locally and globally.

“I was inspired in a very tragic sense when I was reading about Greece and Spain and their bankruptcy,” she said. “I have two millennials and I am a mom and I wanted to tell their story.”

The scenes with the five subjects, where they live, in transit, with their partners, help create an considerable level intimacy between the viewer and the participants. This closeness is perhaps due to Judge’s approach, where she said she aimed to be both a director and an observer of the film’s subjects.

Since filming last year, Smillie has gotten a job in a marketing firm where she said that she is doing well. Identifying as a very average student, Smillie explained that networking is now more important than hard work in this economy, even if people don’t like it.

“There were people better than me in class and they’re not at the same level that I am now. I lost some friends over the job I have now,” she said. “They said, ‘we’ve worked so hard, and you don’t even come to class.’ My focus was always on working smart. I don’t care of grades, I always cared for the networking,” Smillie said.

With great camerawork, stellar production value and a tightly edited movie, My Millennial Life, is an interesting look at millennials and the route they take to reach their ambitious goals.

The film will have a one-time screening at The Toronto Reference Library on Dec. 1 at 6:30 PM. The screening is part of the library’s Thought Exchange series, a collection of discussions centered around Toronto.


My Millennial Life gets up close with the struggles of twenty-somethings