Do I Need This?


Do I Need This? is an irreverent, provocative, and quirky 60 minute documentary film about consumerism, excess, and the stuff from which happiness is made.

We already know all too well that our consumption habits have an extreme affect on the well-being of our planet. But how do they affect our immediate well-being? Do I Need This? explores our impulse to buy things we don't really need, and the impact it has on our personal well-being, mental health, and happiness.

Life experiences are known to bring us joy in ways that objects cannot, yet the stores and online carts are still full, and Americans still order Dog Dung Vacuums and Floating Poker Tables from the Sky Mall Catalog. Why do we buy so much? And at what emotional expense? Once we've brought home our $4.880 trillion worth of yearly purchases, we have to put that stuff somewhere, care for it, live with it, pay for it, and eventually part with it... should we think more about the difference between need and want? Are we just hardwired to shop til we drop? Can we find the capacity to move beyond the instinct to acquire in excess...should we?

Do I Need This? explores our consumption impulses, and looks for a path to happiness which is not cluttered with consumer goods, or confused with a lingering notion that they can buy us the happiness we all seek.

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Kate Schermerhorn (director, co-producer) is an Emmy-winning filmmaker and highly accomplished still photographer. Her work often explores the habits and beliefs of her fellow citizens as they pursue the American Dream.

Kate has produced and directed hundreds of short films and two feature length documentaries, Seeking 1906 and After Happily Ever After. She is the recipient of countless awards, including a Northern California Emmy, two Telly Awards, The Council for The Contemporary Family's Media award, and nominations for a Maggie and an additional Emmy. Kate's film work has been described by Scientific American as "delightfully quirky" and The New Yorker said of her photography, "nothing seems wasted, and nothing's excessive."  

Kate was born in New York and raised in Malibu, California. She has lived and worked in Los Angeles, Florence, Hong Kong, rural Scotland, and after seven years in London, lives outside of San Francisco. She is the mother of two.

Vicente Franco (cinematographer, co-producer) was nominated for a 2003 Academy Award for his film, Daughter from Danang, co-directed with Gail Dolgin. The film won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2002, as well as many international awards. 

Franco is also a highly accomplished cinematographer and Peabody Award winner. His credits include the Academy Award nominated films, Freedom on My Mind and The Most Dangerous Man in America. He also shot, among countless others, In Defense of FoodBotany of DesireThe Judge and the GeneralThe Fight in the Fields,The Good War and The Storm that Swept Mexico.

Film Details
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Language(s): English
  • Running time: 60 minutes
  • Director(s): Kate Schermerhorn
  • Producer(s): Kate Schermerhorn, Vicente Franco
  • Cinematographer(s): Vicente Franco
  • Website:

FSP 1458