The Making Of The Film

KQED Forum on environmental costs of pot growing

Hi everyone, I’m on the road at the moment, but wanted to give a brief update. I got a few on-air comments on KQED’s Forum discussion a few days ago. The subject was the environmental costs of pot growing, spurred by the L.A. Times piece I critiqued in recent posts. Luckily, all of us, other than the guy from Fish and Game, were what you might call pro-pot environmentalists. That is to say, we understand the community, culture and economics of pot production and know it can be grown in a manner that is organic, fish-friendly, land-friendly and community-friendly. (And as shameless self-promotion, that is part of what my film shows.) We are also long-time environmental activists who are very concerned about the negative impacts that some growers are having.

This is an important distinction to make. Most people who rail against the negative impacts of pot growing are also anti-growing and anti-marijuana, which makes it hard to bridge the divide between enviros and growers. Those of us who can have one foot in each world are in the best position to find solutions.

The KQED podcast can be heard here:

Happy new years!

ONE GOOD YEAR covered by local weekly

ONE GOOD YEAR covered by local weekly

The southern Humboldt Independent weekly newspaper has a great cover story on the film and my fundraising campaign today, with some nice photos. The author, Keith Easthouse, did a great job on it and even included a link at the end to this site. Unfortunately, since they’re not online, I can’t post a link so you can read the story. The best I can do is this snapshot of the pages.



“Clip a bale of ganja!” In one-and-a-half minutes.

In the final documentary, you’ll see people carefully harvesting their plants one branch at a time, selecting each branch when the flowers are at their peak potency and cutting in such a way as to make post-harvest processing efficient. Typically, the tops are harvested first then, days or even weeks later, there is a second cut after the smaller flowers have matured fully. After that, the third harvest is usually the tiny “larfy” flower clusters that become tinctures, oils or concentrates.

One Plant Harvest from Downtown Dailies on Vimeo.


“Truce On Drugs”

An insightful article by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine, titled The Truce On Drugs. He did an extensive phone interview with me, after we were connected by Kristin from Emerald Growers Association, whom he’d contacted looking for sources.

I’m busy putting the finishing touches on my Kickstarter campaign. Once things slow down a bit, I’ll reread the story and see if I can add anything to the Humboldt perspective.

A brief progress update

Gretta Wing Miller, the film’s editor, has sent me a rough cut of the trailer and it’s coming together nicely. We’re hoping to have it done soon and will announce it here and on my @onegoodyear Twitter feed. I’m excited to (almost) finally be able to show you all a teaser of what I’ve been working on for so long.

And, speaking of documentary trailers, I was interviewed last fall by a couple of filmmakers working on a doc about dam removal. They wanted to talk to me because back in 1987 I painted a 100′ long crack on the face of Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River—a dam that is being jackhammered and blasted into little itty bitty pieces as you read this. The trailer for their film is now online at Yours truly has the last word in the trailer, saying that dam removal is no longer crazy.

Letting the picture do the talking.

Something I learned during 2010’s grueling shooting season was that my job as director is as much about getting people to not talk on camera as it is eliciting information. All four of the main participants are interesting, funny, heartfelt and very opinionated. Three of the four live alone, but everyone loves to talk when they’ve got company. It was late into the season before I realized how little footage I had of everyone just doing what they do and being themselves without explaining it, interesting as that explanation is. Watching the footage for the first time Gretta, the editor, has been wishing for more silence, footage of people doing, not saying. As an editor/artist working in a primarily visual medium, the silent scenes leave more possibilities open for creative flow. The best audio footage and the best picture don’t always coincide in the same shoot.

I want the world to know and understand and love the true story of this community as much as the film’s participants, so it’s hard for any of us to remember that sometimes the picture is the best way to tell the story and then create the space to let it do so.

Many stories, two narratives, one film.

Today I was reminded of the enormous value in discussing the creative aspects of the project with other film and story professionals. Walking through the story and watching the footage today with Gretta (the film’s editor; see previous post), we had an important revelation about the story’s basic structure. Keep reading

Film progress update

I’m currently in Madison, Wisconsin for another day beginning work with the film’s editor, Gretta Wing Miller. We’ve spent most of two days looking through footage, sharing ideas on the film’s structure and making notes. I fly back tomorrow afternoon, leaving a duplicate hard drive with her so she can continue working away. We’ve only watched a series of “selects” clips that I put together. This is maybe 10% of the total footage available, so there’s lots more to watch.
Read More

Google me silly. Funny search keywords that led to this film blog.

Google me silly. Funny search keywords that led to this film blog.

A key element of a social media outreach strategy for an independent documentary is knowing who your readers, fans and supporters are and how they’re finding your blog. To that end, I usually monitor my Google Analytics data for this site pretty closely. That way, for example, if I see a spike in views after another blog mentions the film, I can go there and participate in any conversations going on and make some new friends. Or new enemies as the case may be.

With the busy summer, I’ve been neglecting my Analytics data, but decided on a whim to check in there this evening. Nothing exciting, really, till I took a look at the keywords that people had typed into Google that had led them to my site. Some are pretty funny and were good for a giggle after a very long day. I’ve posted a screenshot of the top sixteen, but there are pages-worth of keywords/keyphrases that eventually led people here.

Each of the keywords in the screenshot sent between two and nine visitors to the site. Below that, the list contains hundreds of keywords that each sent one visitor. Many of these visits were “bounces,” where someone clicked a link in a search result, opened the page and then closed it without spending time on it, most likely because it obviously wasn’t what they were looking for.

Below are the most amusing search terms that led at least one person here. The numbers in parentheses indicate how ranked in the Google search results for that term. Some are rather surprising.

* how to buy weed from a stranger (#8)

* turkey bag drug dog (#5)

* the biggest weed plant in the world (an image I borrowed from the article I quoted)

* smoking botrytis on marijuana (#6)

* prices for west coast cannabis (#3)

* sequoia living off grid (#8)

* powdery mildew marijuana plant (original image)

* postage due return to sender (original image)

* oldest marijuana found (#4)

* moldy bud brown (original image)

* marijuana stash found (#3)

* life as a pot grower (#3)

* i have my marijuana seeds five days and they don’t crack (#2)

* how much is a pound of weed in humboldt (#4)

* helicopter shot down in humboldt county (UTL)*

* cannabis peace (UTL)*

* biggest cannabis plants glow in humboldt (sic)(UTL)*

(UTL = emergency responder language for “unable to locate.”)

The award goes to:

* what is humboldt (#4, #5)

When Google can answer that, I want to be the first to know.

Volunteering At Sundance Film Festival

With holiday travel, bad weather, work-for-money and work around the homestead, I’ve been shirking blog duty for the last month or so. Here’s a quick update on where the film is at. All the footage has been processed, organized and copied onto hard drives in preparation to start editing. The next step is to cut a nice promotional trailer, start fundraising and hire a top-notch editor. This part is not so exciting and glamorous as being out in the field all summer shooting, but it’s actually where most of the real work of bringing a film to the screen gets done. I’ll have more detailed updates soon.

In the meantime, I’m currently at Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah working as a volunteer. This will be my sixth year at the Festival and so far it’s turning out to be another excellent year. I’ll be Tweeting regularly from my @OneGoodYear account. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me from there, or keep checking in here and you can read the Tweets in the column on the right. Since most of these films are premiers, my comments might not make sense. But if you want, you can go to and read the synopses of the films. I’ll also be posting my usual style of observations on the fly during the Festival.

(You know that you don’t need a smartphone, right? You can sign up for Twitter and get Tweets as texts. See for instructions.)

Load More