The marijuana counter-culture has many layers to it from artist, lawyers, and activist, we’re all part of a bigger thing but there’s one that gets neglected and is sometimes under rated – the grower or as I like to call them, farmers.
Proponents against the legalization of marijuana cry foul and say that gardens will spring up across the nation making it easier for youths to get pot, I say nay! Growing marijuana is a science and a skill set just like any other agriculture field.
Have you ever tried growing anything? Every time I placed seed into soil the farthest they’ve made it is a green sprout and than they died. Even if the plant grew I still wouldn’t know what to look for male vs. female, molding, mites, and when is it time to harvest. All this takes time and experience. If growing anything was easy Wal-Mart would be out of business and we’d all have our own endless supply of salad.
Let’s say everyone was able to grow their own, they still wouldn’t be able to grow enough to have a continuous supply of their own. To grow an amount of this nature would result it in being a full-time and believe it or not most smokers already have a full-time job.
Besides the matter of it being difficult to grow you’ve got the issue of quality vs. quantity. Personally I would rather smoke something organically grown than mass produced and sprayed with insecticides. I would rather smoke something that requires scissors to cut than the Mexican brick weed that is cheap (even though the brick weed in Arizona is a hell of lot better than California). The point is to get a quality product, you need a quality grower. Even chefs are picky about the fruits and vegetables the put in their dishes.
Quality growing has become refined in states like California, Oregon, and Washington. Simply because these guys got a head start. The legalization of marijuana will not put growers out of business. Micro-breweries have not killed big name beer and vice-versa. So as we come closer to this upcoming election in California keep in mind there’s somebody out there growing with love and passion, that’s the bud you really want to smoke.
Right now, there’s a movie out there entitled The Green Rush. If you liked The Union than you’ll love The Green Rush: they follow a couple of medical growers in Northern California that are still on the edge of the law. It goes through their trials and tribulations, victories and defeats. This film is 100 percent real and shows what somebody has to go through just to make a buck. The film is available free on Hulu or at their website (www.greenrushmovie.com), so check it out. The following is an interview with producer Casey Casseday.
TWB: So as producer are you also involved in the film in any other way i.e director, the voice guy, or even the guy that made the negotiations to meet the growers?
CC: Our team of 4 consists of: Director/Producer/Shooter – Jason S. Edwards, Writer/Producer/Shooter – Geoff Bunch, Producer/Writer/DP – Casey Casseday, and Executive Producer Jay Allen. It was a combined effort in which everyone involved picked up a camera, did individual interviews and segments, sat in the edit bay and worked hard to promote it. While Jason and I were working on his first documentary “Blood, Sweat & Gears,” we met Jay Allen in Sturgis, SD. Jay basically loved the way we were covering the biker lifestyle and had seen us shooting at many outdoor bike rallies all over America. He approached us at his biker bar (The Broken Spoke Saloon) and said, “I got another lifestyle you guys might be interested in..” That was back in 2005 and we immediately fell in love with the fresh air and freedom of Northern California. The growers we chose for the film were initially a hard nut to crack, but they “grew” to trust us and we developed a friendly relationship with all of them that spanned the two plus years of shooting.
TWB: How long did it take to make the film from conception to final product?
CC: We did the initial introductions in Fall (harvest) of 2005, but Jay had shot stuff two summers prior to that, so it really all started in 2003. We followed the growers in the film from April to October in 2006, then did our interviews with doctors, lawyers, judges, DA’s and patients for about six months after that to get all the facts. We hit the edit bay hard in the Spring of 2007, and set up test-screenings in an attempt to gain the eyes and ears of the programmers at The Sundance Institute. We of course did not get into Sundance ’08, but were happy to get our first film festival premier right here on the west side at “The Other Venice Film Festival.” Since then, we were an official entrant in the Sacramento Int’l Film Festival, and WON both 2009 Las Vegas Int’l Film Festival AND 2009 Ava Gardner Film Fest in Raleigh, NC. Our distributor, IndieFlix.com (in Seattle) noticed the recognition and got us up on HULU.com just last May. So all said and done independently, from Jay’s idea to this interview, almost 7 years.
TWB: What inspired you guys to make a film about growers? and are all of you patients?
CC: Well, as I stated, Jay Allen believed in exposing this lifestyle for the greater good. He had more or less a “Huell Howser” approach to it originally. Jay took a camera crew up North and started doing man-on-the-street style interviews around these private little towns. There were a couple of interviews early-on where the growers (to protect their identities) wore Presidential Halloween masks (i.e. Reagan, Nixon, Carter & Schwarzenegger) and we felt it made too big of a jokey political statement. We ended up with the bandanas and think it makes a less-offensive statement, but still kinda portrays them as the quasi-outlaws that they all are. The fact is, when all the dispensaries started popping-up in Los Angeles there were no laws for vendors or distributors to safely get the weed to them. So we wondered, “where’s the weed come from, AND who are these people? really, who are they?” The patient question is an extremely personal issue. Though I’m not ashamed to speak out in any way, shape or form, I prefer to leave this one a mystery.
TWB: When you made the film did you think each story was going to end the way it did?
CC: We really had no idea it was all gonna turn out the way it did. Every time we came back up to shoot with the characters, we’d have to sit down and regain their trust. Sometimes that entailed smoking a joint, doing lunch WAY away from their property, and even being left-in-the-dark (blindfolded) as to their actual farm’s location. When we learned of the theft(s) that took place near harvest time, the growers had their suspicions, but we obviously had nothing to do with it. We were rooting for them and having seen their crops mature from seed-starts and clones to full-blow ten foot trees, it was a big let-down for us too. This movie shows that even with decades of experience in the trade, you don’t know what’s gonna happen at the end.
TWB: My favorite grower was Yellow bandanna and his wife Pink bandanna. Do you have a personal favorite?
CC: All of our featured growers bring their own outlook and style to what they do. Yellow and Pink’s love (for weed and each other) shines through and makes them very watchable for sure. If I had to choose, I mean had to . . the funny guy deep-down inside me loves the comic relief provided by Mr. Green. His kind of “fuck-it” attitude and consistent F-bomb vocabulary allows the audience a good laugh here and there on an otherwise serious subject. That’s what it’s all about for me, seeing the caring family growers, matched-up with the younger generation stoners and the fact that they all see eye-to-eye on the importance of growing this plant even if it means risking everything to get it done.
Thanks to the guys that did this awesome film. Again if you or anybody is doing their thing as a smoker feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a Q&A.