Local filmmaker scores in Parliament
Jun 12, 2012 / 12:00 pm
Five years after putting the finishing touches on marijuana documentary The Union: The Business Behind Getting High, Kelowna filmmaker Adam Scorgie didn’t expect the film’s greatest impact would be made in the summer of 2012. Scorgie recently returned from a very successful journey to somewhere he never dreamed his film would take him: Parliament Hill.
Scorgie, along with The Union director Brett Harvey, were invited to speak in front of members of parliament about the pervasive issue of marijuana legalization. The official summons to Parliament Hill was initiated by the former Attorney General of Canada, Irwin Cotler, who wanted Scorgie and Harvey to help educate parliamentarians about the issue of violence and organized crime of smuggling in Canada.
After receiving the initial email, Scorgie wasn’t sure it was for real. “I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I had to call them to make sure it wasn’t a joke,” he says. “And they’re like, ‘No we’ll set up a big room for you and projectors and we’ll get a whole bunch of great speakers to come out.’”
Upon arrival at 1 Wellington Street in Ottawa last week, the two filmmakers stopped before heading in. “Me and Brett were looking at each other and were saying, ‘Really? Us?’ We didn’t think it was going to happen.”
As luck would have it, the invitation from Ottawa came not long after the pair began work on the sequel to the Union, titled The Culture High. “This couldn’t be more timely,” Scrogie says. “I still can’t believe it happened, and how seriously politicians are taking the film. It’s hard to believe that my film may be used as an education piece.”
After spending time in discussion with members of parliament, Scorgie is thrilled with the impact his film has made on Canadian lawmakers. “To see Irwin Cotler run in and appreciate it so much was amazing,” he says.
Scorgie explains that because the topic won’t go away, politicians have no choice but to become educated. “A lot of them, the politicians, don’t really know what’s going on with the subject, and now so many are forced to have good answers, but most haven’t taken then time to research.”
Asked why the film has become such a hit in Ottawa, Scorgie is convinced he has an answer. “Simplicity was the key to the film’s success. And, the politicians liked the humour in the film. Man, after seeing the film and having talked to us, they wanted a whole box of DVDs. They want this to be seen as bipartisan; they want it to be looked at as sensible policy, regardless of what party you stand for,” he says. “Plus, all the MPs want to show it to their constituents!”
It’s not just the people in Ottawa taking notice these days, either. LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), an international organization of criminal justice professionals “who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of current drug policies,” is also a large supporter of the film. “It’s crazy, Scorgie says. “I’ve had former drug czars, DEA, RCMP… they’re all coming up to me after seeing the film.”
Along with the support he’s getting in the political arena, the endorsements being thrown his way by prominent entertainment industry types aren’t hurting. “My Twitter following actually went from 2,000 to about 12,000 in the last month, thanks to a few retweets from Joe Rogan,” Scorgie explains. Without even being finished, the film has already generated major interest from the Canadian networks, with Superchannel having already purchased rights to the film, with deals from other networks currently being worked out.
The thrill of success from his Ottawa visit is almost overwhelming, but Scorgie is using this elation to kick things into gear for The Culture High. “Our Kickstarter video will be done June 20th, and we need the audiences help to get the documentary in theatres. By contributing, not only do you get a copy of the film, but you get a film credit, and you get to say you helped get it the theatres,” he says, and has huge aspirations for the Kickstarter campaign, for which he hopes to raise $190,000. “If we reach our goal, it would be the highest Kickstarter campaign in Canadian history.”
When the new film is finished, Scorgie hopes to have it entered in the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Although they documented their visit to Ottawa, he’s not guaranteeing they will use the footage for the new film.
Look for the Kickstarter video for The Culture High right here on Castanet.
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