Marijuana and Cannabis News
Exclusive Interview: Adam Scorgie, Writer, The Union
By Anthony Martinelli
Special to Toke of the Town
The Union: The Business Behind Getting High is a groundbreaking documentary released in 2007, seen by millions, that focuses on the logistics of the illegal cannabis industry, as well as the history and harms of prohibition. Now the writer of that film is preparing to make the long-awaited follow-up, provided financial backing falls into place.
With interviews and quotes ranging from Harvard psychiatry professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon, to Fear Factor host Joe Rogan ("I didn't start smoking pot till about five years ago; I thought pot made you stupid. Then I realized when I was like, 30 years old that I was tricked. I was like, you gotta be fucking kidding me!"), The Union has played a vital role in opening up the public conversation on cannabis law reform.
Now, five years later, a sequel is in the works, and as with most films independent of big studio dollars, "in the works" implies very boldly that a lot of work needs to be done. In this case, the makers of The Union are calling upon supporters to pre-purchase copies of its sequel, which would be titled The Culture High, in order to assure that it even gets made.
You can make a donation, and find out more information including a video explaining the project here. Anyone who donates $25 or more will be thanked in the film's credit, and if you make a $35 donation you will be pre-ordering a copy that will be mailed to you upon its finish. An added bonus to those who want to make sure their money counts: if the full goal of $190,000 isn't reached by August 3, you won't be charged a dime.
|Filmmaker Adam Scorgie in "The Union"|
According to The Union writer Adam Scorgie, whom Toke of the Town recently spoke with, this sequel wasn't initially planned: "After finishing The Union we always said that we'd never do another drug law documentary... we didn't want people to think as filmmakers that we got lucky and that it's all we can do."
But according to Adam, the outcry from fans to do a followup has been loud and consistent, and the film has reached a wider base than they ever imagined, "there's so many people requesting we do a followup film. There's so much going on in the media. I often get recognized with my daughter from people wanting autographs and to take photos. I just never thought that would happen. It's amazing."
This call from fans, along with the impact the film has had, pushed them towards a sequel, "me and my crew love to make movies that are thought provoking and inspiring, and we want to impact the world in a positive way. After seeing the impact The Union had, we just had to do it."
To put an explanation point on this impact, Adam explained how he and Brett Harvey, the director of The Union, were recently summoned to Canada's Parliament Hill by the country's Liberal Party, where they were able to screen the entirety of the movie in front of Parliament.
"At first I thought it was a joke, that we were going to get arrested!" Scorgie told Toke of the Town. "I was like, this can't be real! But it was, and we had multiple Parliament members come up to us afterward to tell us that they're totally rethinking how they look at cannabis policies after watching our movie. They are actually drafting a bill they want to be bi-partisan, and they plan to use information from The Union to draft this bill."
It's been more than 5 years since the film's release, which was inspired by Adam's own consideration of joining the cannabis industry.
"Where i grew up growing dope was commonplace," Scorgie told us. "When i was in high school one in every five guys were growing."
This tempted him into wanting to join in on the illegal, yet lucrative industry, before he changed his mind.
"My conscience kicked in because my father passed away, and I had never done anything illegal like that, but I learned so much by almost getting into it that I thought man, this would make a great documentary; everything from the realtors to the guys who would hook it up for you," Scorgie said. "From there. I wanted to do an expose on the culture, and then we did The Union, and then it grew into something so much bigger than what we ever expected."
For The Culture High, Adam tells us that they didn't want to make the film if they didn't feel they could make it fresh and interesting.
"We wanted to do something very different," Scorgie said. "Brett [The Union's director] found something he thought was just as thought provoking and groundbreaking as The Union, and something that has never been seen in another cannabis documentary."
This potential hasn't gone unnoticed: Adam tells us that they already have confirmed deals with several production companies, including Phase4Films (best known for Kevin Smith's Red State). The holdup is in the fact that for these deals to take place, the movie must be made.
This is where the necessity of the $190,000 comes in.
"We thought we'd do something different for a documentary, to call for people to not only help the film get made, but to allow them the opportunity to have their names in the film's credit."
There's another bonus to this as well.
"When we go to HBO or Starz or whoever we go to, we can say look, we raised $190,000 from community support, so clearly there's a demand," Scorgie explained.
And so far, signs point to the fact that there is. In just 11 days more than $62,000 has been raised from over 900 donors. The potential of this film to educate, and to reach mainstream audiences, should certainly hold weight among those who support cannabis law reform.
If this film getting made is important to you, consider making a donation. If the goal is made, we can expect to see the movie hit film festivals and theaters towards the end of next year.
If you haven't had a chance to watch The Union: The Business Behind Getting High, you can do so for free here, through Netflix, or through purchasing the DVD.