Filmmaker Alex Eaves and HGTV personality Derek “Deek” Diedricksen come up with some 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 entitled The Box Truck Film: Building a Reuseful Home, which will premiere July 14 at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton. The film follows their journey to turn a box truck into a tiny home on wheels, using almost exclusively reused materials.

Eaves came up with the idea for the box truck film after he completed his first documentary, Reuse: Because You Can’t Recycle the Planet, which was released in 2015.

“Since 2008, I’ve been a pretty passionate reuser,” he said. “I don’t use disposable coffee cups, silverware, to-go ware, things like that. So when I got back from the tour, I realized I needed a bigger and better way to show people the reused movement, and I connected with Deek, who is a tiny house builder, and I’m like, ‘Let’s do something together.’”

“So not even a year after my first film came out, we launched a crowdfunding campaign to convert a box truck into a tiny house on wheels made entirely of used materials,” he said.

The truck is a 17-foot U-Haul truck that now has 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 of that – everything you need to live. It is a fully-functioning tiny house, a living unit on wheels.”

Eaves said he wanted to make it as simple as possible for him to travel in, so he kept things very basic.

“You just plug into any home outlet, and there are 16 outlets inside connected to standard electricity,” he said. “For water, most of the time I just carry jugs around, but I also have a hose hookup like on an RV that you just hook up to a spigot.”

A Tiny House Tale

Diedricksen, now known as the host of Tiny House Builders on HGTV, may also be familiar to Boston radio audiences as “Deek,” nighttime disc jockey on the late, great WBCN. However, these days he has devoted himself to creating tiny 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 for a living. It’s awesome.”

He also has a popular YouTube channel focused on tiny house and treehouse builds.

Diedricksen's passion for tiny houses comes from his upbringing.

“I grew up in a modest home in a town where all my friends had these, like, mansion-houses,” he said. “Long story short, I was fine growing up in a tiny house. I had no problem with it. Most of my friends’ parents, I never met them, because they were so busy working 110 hours a week to pay for a house they could never be in. So I kind of felt from an early age that tiny houses made a lot of sense.”

After church on Sundays, Diedricksen and his family would take a drive to Dud’s Village in Connecticut.

“Which is this seasonal summer house community with these tiny little huts, Quonset huts, mini-houses, and I was just enamored with that at an early age,” he said. “When you’re a kid, you love stuff like forts, treehouses, and this is like the adult version of it. It’s a microcosm of our ‘real’ houses.”

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Tiny Houses Have Yet to Take Hold in Massachusetts

While tiny houses technically aren’t illegal in Massachusetts, it’s up to each municipality 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 kind of illegal,” Diedricksen said. “It’s been an uphill battle, but as some pioneers pave the way, it’s getting easier for people to live tiny.”

Eaves said part of the problem is that people are “nervous with their mega mansions that these tiny houses are going to deplete the value of their houses.”

“I would think with the current housing crisis, we would want to take any opportunity we can, whether it’s a truck or a shipping container or an old factory building. There are so many houses out there, and that’s one of the things I alway talk about is to think outside the housing box,” he said. “There are so many opportunities, there doesn’t have to be a housing crisis, we just have to look beyond.”

Courtesy The Box Truck Film
Courtesy The Box Truck Film

One thing to keep in mind when reusing is that, as Diedricksen teaches in his workshop, “don’t be afraid to let the materials dictate the build.”

“You have to be flexible when building with reused materials,” he said. “That’s half the fun of it. That’s why when you see people building with salvage, it’s completely unique. It’s not this carbon copy, interchangeable parts, Eli Whitney house that’s stamped out by a machine. These tiny houses have character, and are indicative of one’s character, too.”

Brockton Is the Perfect City to Host The Box Truck Film Premiere

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 along with other people that are in the film. Included with the ticket price is admission into the Fuller Craft Museum.

Diedricksen called the museum a “hidden gem.”

“A lot of people who live in Brockton don’t even know about it, which is criminal. It’s beautiful inside architecturally, and it ties in to the movie in many ways,” he said. “We took some wood from their actual 1969 auditorium, the cedar they had left over and wanted gone, and we implemented it, built it into the box truck, among other things.”

Courtesy The Box Truck Film
Courtesy The Box Truck Film

“They were so helpful in helping us build this, in providing some of the used materials for it, that we figured, why not do the premiere there?” he said. “It’s like a perfect fit, because some of the stuff that composes the box truck is from the Fuller Museum itself.”

Listen to the interview with Eaves and Diedricksen beginning at the 13:35 mark below:

Tiny House, Big Savings

Eaves said there are only four new materials that were used in the build of the truck, because there are a few things, such as caulking, that can’t be repurposed and must be purchased new.

“(But) the money-saving on this box truck is ridiculous, too,” Eaves said. “It’s not only that we 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 materials people have in their attics, their basements, garages – it’s uncanny."

Courtesy The Box Truck Film
Courtesy The Box Truck Film

The two hope the film will inspire others to reuse materials themselves.

“When you re-harvest those materials and reuse them into projects, you’re infusing character, history, saving money, beating the system – there are so many levels by which you are triumphing over that junk,” Diedricksen said.

Courtesy The Box Truck Film
Courtesy The Box Truck Film

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