Filmmaker Alex Eaves and HGTV personality Derek “Deek” Diedricksen come up with big ideas when it comes to all things tiny, finding ways to breathe new life into repurposed materials.
The two are co-directors of a new documentary titled The Box Truck Movie: Building a reusable house, premiering July 14 at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton. The film follows their journey to transform a box truck into a small house on wheels, using almost exclusively repurposed materials.
Eaves came up with the idea for the box truck film after completing his first documentary, Reuse: because you can’t recycle the planetreleased in 2015.
“Since 2008, I’ve been a pretty passionate reuser,” he said. “I don’t use disposable coffee cups, silverware, take-out dishes, etc. So when I came back from the tour I realized I needed a bigger and better way to show people repurposed movement, and I connected with Deek, who is a tiny house builder , and I was like, ‘Let’s do something together. ‘”
“So, not even a year after my first film came out, we started a crowdfunding campaign to convert a box truck into a little house on wheels made entirely of used materials,” he said.
The truck is a 17 foot U-Haul truck that has now been converted into a 98 square foot tiny house.
“It has everything you need. It has a nautical style shower, it has a toilet, it has a kitchenette area,” Diedricksen said. “You can cook, you can shower, all that – everything you need to live. It’s a fully functional tiny house, living unit on wheels.
Eaves said he wanted it to be as easy as possible for him to travel, so he kept things very basic.
“You just plug in any household outlet, and there are 16 sockets inside connected to standard electricity,” he said. “For water most of the time I only carry jugs, but I also have a hose connection like on an RV that you just plug into a tap.”
A little house tale
Diedricksen, now known as the host of Tiny house builders on HGTV, may also be familiar to Boston radio audiences as “Deek,” a nighttime disc jockey on the late and great WBCN. However, these days he is dedicated to creating small houses and treehouses.
“I build a lot of treehouses professionally for people now,” he said. “It’s another avenue where I don’t have to grow up. I can still build forts to make a living. It’s awesome.
He also has a popular YouTube channel focused on building tiny houses and treehouses.
Diedricksen’s passion for tiny homes stems from his upbringing.
“I grew up in a modest house in a town where all my friends had these kinds of mansions,” he said. “Long story short, I was fine growing up in a tiny house. I had no problem with that. Most of my friends’ parents, I never met them, because they were so busy working 110 hours a day. week to pay for a house they could never be in. So I felt from an early age that tiny houses made a lot of sense.”
After church on Sunday, Diedricksen and his family would drive to Dud’s Village in Connecticut.
“What is this seasonal summer house community with these tiny little huts, Quonset huts, mini houses, and I was in love with it from an early age,” he said. “When you’re a kid, you like stuff like forts, treehouses, and it’s like the grown-up version. It is a microcosm of our “real” homes.
Tiny houses have yet to take root in Massachusetts
Although tiny homes aren’t technically illegal in Massachusetts, it’s up to each municipality to decide how they want to regulate them.
“In most areas they don’t know what to do with it, so in some communities it’s still a bit illegal,” Diedricksen said. “It’s been an uphill battle, but as some pioneers lead the way, it becomes easier for people to live tiny.”
Eaves said part of the problem is that people are “nervous with their mega mansions that these tiny homes are going to deplete the value of their homes.”
“I think with the current housing crisis, we would want to take every possible opportunity, whether it’s a truck, a shipping container or an old factory building. There are so many houses there, and that’s one of the things I always talk about is thinking outside the box,” he said. “There are so many opportunities, there doesn’t have to be a housing crisis, we just have to look beyond that.”
One thing to keep in mind when reusing is that, as Diedricksen teaches in his studio, “don’t be afraid to let the materials dictate the construction.”
“You have to be flexible when building with reused materials,” he said. “That’s half the fun. That’s why when you see people building with salvage, it’s very unique. It is not this exact copy, the interchangeable parts, the house of Eli Whitney that is stamped by a machine. These little houses have character and are also indicative of one’s character.
Brockton is the perfect city to host The box truck movie First
In addition to the screening of the film, the box truck itself will also be on display and the directors will participate in a Q&A session with others who are in the film. Ticket price includes admission to the Fuller Craft Museum.
Diedricksen called the museum a “hidden gem”.
“A lot of people who live in Brockton don’t even know it, which is criminal. It’s beautiful inside architecturally, and it ties into the movie in so many ways,” he said. “We took some wood from their real 1969 auditorium, the cedar they had left behind that they wanted gone, and implemented it, built it into the van truck, among other things.”
“They were so helpful in helping us build this, providing some of the materials used for this, that we thought, why not do the premiere there?” he said. “It’s like a perfect fit, because some of the elements that make up the van truck are from the Fuller Museum itself.”
Listen to the interview with Eaves and Diedricksen from 1:35 p.m. below:
Small house, big savings
Eaves said only four new materials were used in the truck’s construction because there are a few things, like caulking, that can’t be reused and must be purchased new.
“(But) the money saving on this box truck is also ridiculous,” Eaves said. “It’s not just that we’ve saved money, it’s that people are so excited to be a part of it and get rid of the crap in their house. The amount of stuff people have in their attics, their basements, their garages, it’s unbelievable.”
The two hope the film will inspire others to reuse the materials themselves.
“When you salvage these materials and reuse them in projects, you infuse character, story, save money, beat the system – there are so many levels by which you triumph over this waste,” Diedricksen said.
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