Monday, 27 June 2011

02 In Helsinki, Finland

In SpaceWhale, Eki's studio that he shares with his geek pals, doing  the post on "marihuanaland". It's a full-blaze sunny day and we would rather be outdoors but want to finish this project. It was great timing for us that the Global Commission on Drug Policy has just issued a report that states we should declare an end to our disastrous war on drugs.

In our documentary we try to figure out whether medical marihuana should be legalized as a legitimate alternative to other drugs.  And if recreational pot should at least be considered as an alternative to alcohol.

Eki just came back from a smoke (yuck - that's a drug I hate) and I want to have some lunch. We're going to my favorite restaurant in Helsinki. Ann-Mari, the owner-cook, makes the best meatballs (and bread) in the whole world. She usually gives me extras and I eat them all, even though I'm practically a vegetarian. She said some people call it the Trashcan, because it's hidden behind the trash cans in the backside of an obscure industrial building. And you would never find it unless an in-the-know local took you there because there are no signs on the door. Off we go. I'm starving.

01 littlemargiedoc-blog

"If it´s Monday it must be Maggy."  That´s what Eki (Halkka) says when I check in at the beginning of the week from where ever I am. He´s my long-time photographer/editor/co-director, co-scriptwriter, co-conspirator. little margie production is our small film company located in Helsinki, Finland. For the last 17 years we´ve made cultural documentaries, mostly for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), with some international distribution. We´re a mom and pop operation but have managed to sell most of the ideas we´ve pitched. And have got financing from various sources, including EU Media Programme Development and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Marihuanaland" our latest project, which is in post-production, is a big switch. It was like going back to the beginning because so far we have financed it ourselves.  We got the idea in August 2010 after reading an article in the Economist about Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California, the trade school that teaches you everything you want or need to know about cannabis. And proposition 19 was on the November 2010 ballot that, if it had passed, would have made possession of small amounts of pot legal for anyone over 21.  We thought we had to be there when the votes came in. So we took the plunge and booked tickets for me, Eki and Antti (Hacklin), our steadicam operator/sound-man/photographer.

I went to Oakland in advance to check on locations and knock on doors to get interviews. Before the guys came, the last week in October, I took the two day course at Oaksterdam University.  Practically the minute Eki and Antti got off the plane we started working and running.  It was a week chockablock with everything we could find, or anyone we could talk to, related to the marihuana business. We interviewed 14 people including Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam, Dale Sky Jones, the chancellor, Steve DeAngelo, managing director of Harborside Health Clinic, the Rolls-Royce of medical marijuana dispensaries and Terance Hallinan, former district attorney from San Francisco and advocate of legalizing cannabis for recreational use. We plan to finish the project in August.  Today I told Eki it felt a bit sad that we were coming toward the end. Now the tough task of distribution is in front of us.