Weed and Me: a very short documentary

You can think of this as an introduction or just additional reading. The short documentary I made about myself touches on topics but doesn't get into any details; to me, it felt like anything deeper would only be desired by anyone interested by the documentary itself.

I should say why I wanted to make this film first; a film (kinda) about weed that doesn't feature any political aspects or agenda. But I know you've heard that all before and seen it a thousand different ways; I really just wanted to provide insight into the life and mind of a stoner, though I may not be the archetype of one.

The subtext is to defeat the idea that a stoner is lazy, forgetful, and absent minded but also, the film provided a way for me to share a few weed inspired aspects about myself that I may have been too reserved to show otherwise.

My films have always been about myself, trying to relay who I am and how I feel in a narrative way; but I've always hidden myself behind a character, letting him be the beacon for my thoughts. I've always used films to talk about myself in ways that I cannot or would not.

This documentary was my first attempt at an open display of myself.

I've talked before about myself; being a shy kid, a rule follower. Things weren't particularly difficult; I wasn't made fun of and I had a few friends. I just wasn't very exposed to things; no one I knew was 'experimenting' with pot, most of my friends at the time barely even desired to drink. So I grew up rather conservatively, it took me awhile before I ever started to break away.

It was probably my second year in junior college when I first tried marijuana; it was after we wrapped up a friend's film set. I didn't get high that night which can be quite common the first time. But, of course, that didn't give me a very high opinion of the drug at the time.

It wasn't until a few months later that I tried it once more and had quite the experience. I got loopy.

I was always such a serious guy and always thinking negatively; weed melted that all away and I had fun, I was actually enjoying myself in a way I'd never really experienced. It was truly a trip. And that lasted many more times, I was stoned out of my mind on just a few puffs; I don't know exactly why, if it was just my body chemistry or if it was because I'd never really tried anything before that.

But, back then, I still treated pot like an occasional affair. I smoked with my friends and listened to music when we hung out; that was more or less it. We got high and talked about film ideas, most would probably never come to fruition or would at least be a few years off. But we inspired each other and pot always made it a little easier to go along with and even enjoy the absurd.

When I transferred to CSUN, I started smoking pot regularly. There's a few reasons:

1) I really disliked the how the CSUN film program worked; it was a dog-eat-dog experience that's probably reminiscent of Hollywood but it wasn't something I liked or appreciated. I've never been very competitive and I really don't like the animosity and trash-talk competition breeds. Truly, I'm a child of the hippy-era; love everyone and give everyone an equal shot. That's why I liked COC so much, we all got to make OUR film; not some overly processed group script that loses its original message in hopes of being marketable and relatable to a wider audience. Weed, I hoped, would help me get over the problems I had with CSUN but likely it just made it worse; I had less tolerance for the practices I did not appreciate, not more.

2) I still really didn't know how to talk to people; how to make friends. Friends always 'made me' rather than the reverse. I thought pot would open me up, make my personality shine through but it didn't; it couldn't. It shouldn't be a surprise, though some people think it is, that pot doesn't change you; you don't become more lazy or more talkative. The person you are will remain unaffected by weed; for me, that was both good and bad. It was good in the sense that the hardworking, serious, focused person I am was going to remain but I was expecting the drug's help in opening my mouth to speak but it just didn't. Pot doesn't really break down the inhibitions as alcohol is thought to do.

I took pictures for many years; my parents gave me a camera at a very young age and I continually snapped away, shot after shot, for about 14 years. At current count, my photos, from then to now, is about 52,000. Thats a lot of photos and probably a good 80% of them are crappy. Now, that said, most are good little snapshots, family photos, or might be usable as some sort of indie band album cover but, are any particularly artistic? No.

With years of taking bad pictures, I started to learn what not to do; and I eventually took photography classes to learn the rules and how to better use a camera and its features. But mostly I just tried things; I was the photographer for my family so while pictures of me are few (good ones, even fewer), I got to learn what I liked in a picture, be it a landscape or a portrait, and how the technique might differ for each.

While visiting San Francisco, I stayed with a friend who always shoots photography on film. One technique she often liked to employ was rolling back the film to do multiple exposures on a single frame; she got it down to an art, at least from my perspective. When I went over there, she had picked up a Colorsplash Flash for Lomo cameras; it's a cool little, single battery device that holds four different colored flashes on a rotating wheel.

But digital cameras can't roll a shot back to double expose it; anything double exposure in the digital world is presumed to be photoshopped. One tool the digital photographer does have is long exposures, which combined with multiple colored flashes gave birth to a modern psychedelic style of photography. I can't claim it as original, though I've not seen anything much like it before. And, as exhibited in the photo to the right, it's even cooler when done on film.

Which brings us to the delightful, the absurd; the Butter Beard.

First, the name; the meaning behind the name 'Butter Beard' is simple and is best defined at Urban Dictionary:
The sensation of a greasy beard, felt typically after eating buttery food. 
The feeling of a greasy, or buttery beard is quite the nagging sensation for anyone who's experienced it. Butter Beard, as a rapper, provides a sensation equally as or more nagging; so the name fit. Plus, I knew the terrible condition of a Butter Beard all too well; until I shaved.

I liked really crappy music before I smoked weed; Smooth Jazz probably being the most blatant of my crimes. My first time even hearing Pink Floyd's Speak to Me/Breathe was on a plane coming back from New York in 2009. I just didn't know things; such blasphemy was not intentional.

The idea for Butter Beard was born out of stoned hangouts with my friends. My friends showed me a lot of great music; I mean, basically they kick started a whole desire and joy in music that I just never had before. And from that beginning, I started to develop my own REAL musical tastes. But most importantly, my friends brought me into their world of freestyling. We'd put on tunes like the magnificent hip-hop instrumentalist Nujabes and went silly.

But, as most of my stories go, I wasn't very bold with my choices freestyling with the group, often resigning myself to the background. As always, I wasn't very confident in my abilities. So, one night, I did a freestyle on my own. It's stupid, it's sad, it's poorly sung but it started this interest in me to do more songs; some funny, some serious.

It's a project that I've, so far, only executed privately and almost always in my car; I think the multitasking of singing and driving allow a certain mind freedom to the experience rather than if I tried to sit down somewhere and try to record one. Trying it live is another beast entirely that I don't know if I will tackle; part of me worries it will become an observational, perhaps insulting song about whoever I see just as I often work in [fuck up with] lyrics about driving.

And that's everything the film touched on. Pot continues to exist in a legal gray area and the stigma against stoners is often as strong as ever. I hope this film has helped you find a more positive image of pot smokers just as you likely don't have a negative view of your friends that drink moderately. We are no different from them, except with how we choose to kick back, relax, and/or escape.