When you think about it, nothing is static. There's always something changing. Evolving. Mutating.
A few years back, I became aware of a highly trained, courageous California Fish and Wildlife team that goes toe-to-toe with illegal marijuana growers on public lands. Sometimes that means gunfights, and avoiding Vietnam-War-era trip-lines and crazy-traps, like - rattlesnakes tied to the base of plants just to keep the "good guys" out.
My son, Blaise, filmed training activities of this elite force. The team was apparently interested in the invisibility afforded by gear made by the hunting company, KUIU, where Blaise works as an in-house video producer. I found myself glued to the footage he came back with. And now, two years later, after California's passing of Prop 64 legalizing recreational marijuana use, and creating a regulated path for growers to at least try and make good on the environment, while making good weed, I'm thick in the process of unearthing an untold story.
California will never be the same. Cliche' and shallow, perhaps but that simple sentence is the heartbeat beneath Altered State. At first, the idea was to follow the law enforcement thread of this story. As I looked more deeply, I discovered that environmental activism comes from more than one direction. In fact, growers that used to stand in handcuffs next to law enforcement are now helping remediate lands that have been destroyed by the terraformers and their toxic chemicals. The story is now, "The rise of marijuana and the fight to protect California's natural resources."
So that's the plan. I started shooting this past summer, and have made inroads with several groups on seemingly opposite ends of a wide spectrum.
Up to now, I've self-funded this project, which is another way of saying I'm not producing nearly the way I want, with a crew, research focus, and a nicely compressed schedule. Soon, there will be a way for sponsors to come on board, and even better - backers with micro-transactions through a crowd funding campaign.
Watch here for your chance to help make this film. In a future post, I'll describe the aspirations for distribution and making sure the Altered State of California prioritizes our naturally pristine wild public lands.