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I traveled to Gunnison County, Colo., to make this video about two towns that had taken different paths since medicinal marijuana was legalized in 2000 and recreational marijuana sales began this year. One, Crested Butte, has embraced the sale of retail and medicinal marijuana; the other, Gunnison, has so far rejected it. (While anyone in the state over 21 is free to use the drug on private property, it’s up to local governments to decide whether it can be sold.)
I spoke with a wide cross section of people – including politicians, educators, store owners, police officers and two guys who hope to strike it rich in the legal marijuana trade. Yet I found it surprisingly challenging to find someone to speak for the oppositional side. Many told me this was because marijuana was not a new recreational drug to the state; Colorado and weed have a long history, they said. Others said, “It’s just not that big of a deal.” I called an individual who was deep-rooted in the ranching community who said that finding ranchers to talk about it would be nearly impossible. They were “not in favor” of the new laws but weren’t comfortable talking about this to journalists.
Yet I did find a sense of caution: concerns about access for youth, proper labeling and fair taxation. And one thing everybody agrees on is that this new legislation is a huge experiment.
Over the next couple months I will be adding to a series of microshort films (1-2 minutes) that focus on observing life in Appalachia. The footage from the series was shot in 2012 while I was filming for Hollow, an interactive documentary about the residents of McDowell County, West Virginia. From May to September, I filmed seven terabytes of footage in the coalfields.
Many of the interesting moments and awesome people I met did not make it into the interactive doc so I'm happy to find a new home for these people and places in this series. You can expect to observe church services, front-porch haircuts, residents wandering through abandoned buildings, riding on golf carts with the elderly, tent revivals and moments at home. I am very excited to share some of these slices of life with you.
You can view the first five shorts and read my artist statement here. Enjoy and stay tuned.
The five short films commissioned (including our film, "For Seamus") by the NYT magazine for "The Lives They Lived" issue are featured in the most recent issue and online at nytimes.com/magazine.