Kim’s Story: How Aeroplan Miles Helped a First-time Filmmaker

Kim Laureen has been an Aeroplan Member for over a decade, racking up miles from everyday purchases as she worked and raised a family. She didn’t have a plan for using those miles – until Kim and her daughter, Megan Dirksen, had an idea for a documentary film and their passion project was born.

How long have you been collecting miles and what finally made you want to use them?

I have been an Aeroplan member for more than 10 years. We have a large family, and I used my card to collect miles for household purchases like groceries and for outings to the cinema, sporting events and restaurants – they really added up. I never really thought about what I would use the miles for. I was simply busy with life and raising my kids.

One day, my daughter Megan and I started to notice that, everywhere we went, everyone always had their heads down and weren’t engaging with each other. People – young people, especially – now spend so much time each day on the internet and social media. With depression and anxiety on the rise, we began to wonder how things might change if we could achieve more balance with our use of technology. This is where the idea for a documentary began.

How did your miles help you get your project started?

We connected with a family who lives off the grid in Devon, UK. They invited us to spend some time with them and see what it’s like to live a simpler life. So we cashed in the first of our Aeroplan Miles and away we went. As our story grew, we traveled to New York, Los Angeles, Texas, San Francisco and back to England again – earning and redeeming more miles along the way.

Our greatest obstacle as first-time filmmakers was that we had no funding. No one wanted to take a chance on us, but we believed in our ability to tell this story. We were grateful to have some Aeroplan Miles saved up because they allowed us to get to each filming location – something we couldn’t have done otherwise.

What did this journey mean to you on a personal level?

Each step along the way offered a new challenge – we were constantly learning and growing. I can confidently say that we are different filmmakers today than when we started. We like to tell anyone that the mistakes we made along the way are a part of our story and our film is “imperfectly perfect”, much like life itself.

We learned a lot from the people we met along the way, especially the Warburton family, who live off the grid. They have technology but they don’t rely on it, and they look to each other for meaningful interactions and happiness.

Kim and Megan are currently touring their documentary, Selfless (selflessmovie.com), Canada, US, Germany and the UK this Fall. They’re also working on a follow-up film addressing body image and beauty standards in today’s media-driven world.