Produced by Adam Scorgie and his Canadian-based production company Score G Productions, and distributed by Canada’s Phase 4 Films, the new documentary The Culture High examines the longstanding question of marijuana legalization and its many implications in an involving 118-minute presentation of the issue from as many sides as one can conjure.
An advocate of legalization, Scorgie undertook the project as a follow-up to his other marijuana project The Union. “It was a four-year process from concept to delivery,” he said. “Everyone in the doc did their interview for free. When you are dealing with free schedules and free interviews, like Richard Branson or Snoop Dog, it was very tough to pin them down. What Brett Harvey tries to do with this film as director, is he adds lots of humor in there. If we do two hours of miserable serious facts, it would get mundane and boring. You have to lighten the mood a little bit.”
One stunning segment includes a father who tells the story of his seizure-riddled son who found relief with medicinal marijuana usage. “The boy took 25,000 pills by eight-years-old,” Scorgie said. “He’s still battling with insurance over using marijuana.” He noted a line by interviewee Ed Burns who said, “You don’t think it matters until it happens to your brother, your father, your daughter, yourself.”
Featuring such illuminating interviews, animations, stock and news footage, photos and unique recreations, The Culture High is a mesmerizing experience for virtually any audience regardless of one’s opinions about the issue of legalized marijuana. Many secondary and tertiary effects of marijuana are examined, including the privatization of prisons to house criminals whose sole crime was possession of marijuana, the politically divisive positions on the drug, and marijuana’s comparison to other affecting substances such as alcohol.
As the filmmakers had gained a cult following for their equally controversial film The Union, The Culture High was budgeted with funds raised from multiple sources. In addition to going to their production companies from The Union, the producers of The Culture High created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds, reaching out to people on social media who were avid fans of The Union. “We raised $240,000 in 42 days from 3,500 people all over the world,” said Scorgie.
Ultimately, Scorgie noted that three people were crucial in getting the film made. “Brett also was the cinematographer, and the writer,” said Scorgie. “There were three of us putting it together: Myself as producer, Stephen Green, the editor and Brett. Stephen’s the glue, the calm, the mellow. He calms the whole scenario down.”
Scorgie explained their secret in amassing the hundreds of individual items which comprise the film, making for an experientially fulfilling project. “The one thing that we’d have as an advantage is that through our social media site, we have been sent stuff for the last four years,” he said of the accumulation of photos, news footage, and other visuals. “The internet was such an important part of the film. The Union was discovered by the Internet. All of these great people to interview were people we discovered through our social media sites. Normally, it would take years and a team of 10 people to put together.”
The Culture High opens on Oct. 17 via distributor Phase 4 Films in a limited theatrical release after the film played for a one-week theatrical run in New York and L.A. “We didn’t want to make the whole world wait,” Scorgie said. Thus, the filmmakers hatched a web-friendly plan. “We think because it’s a film of importance, we can do this as a special on Vimeo. We just went to Vimeo HD who have a new On Demand platform. It’s considered a theatrical – so it’s $12.99. It will go down to $9.99 to buy and $5.00 to rent in the future. We’ll have a separate page on Vimeo with both The Union and The Culture High and DVD extras for one bundle.”
“We wanted to make it available worldwide at the same time as our theatrical release,” said Scorgie on the eve of his film’s public debut. “If you can get content to people at a fair price, a lot of people are willing to pay.”