Dear Huffington Post Readers:
Let us introduce ourselves. We are Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs, best friends and filmmaking collaborators since the ripe old age of six who hail from St. Louis, MO. If you've never been to St. Louis, try the toasted ravioli. It'll melt your soul with deliciousness. Our first feature, Humboldt County, premiered Friday, March 7th, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, Texas and we'd be lying if we said that we weren't excited about that.
We've been working on this film for five years. That's longer than a presidential term for Pete's sake. How could two, relatively intelligent people choose to devote that much time to one project, you ask? Good question. I have no idea. Actually, I think I do...
This was simply a story we had to tell. For those who have never been to Humboldt, it is one of the northernmost counties in California and boasts one of the largest undeveloped swaths of coastal property in the United States. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places you have ever seen - sandwiched between the humbling redwood forests and the vast Pacific Ocean. It also happens to be the marijuana capital of the United States. It is there, hidden in the woods of Southern Humboldt that the last vestiges of the once broad hippie subculture still remain. In the late seventies, many in the movement had become convinced that the "free love" and "peace unto the world" ideals had died a murky death amid Watergate break-ins and increasing deaths in a faraway place called Vietnam. In that environment, most of the young people who had marched and protested became part of the money-making culture of the 80s. A stubborn few, however, retreated from the world, moved to the middle of the Northern California wilderness and started growing pot as their cash crop.
These people were not un-educated, un-cultured low-lifes mind you. They were people like Darren's uncle, who was a UCLA physics professor until 1980 when he couldn't take the state of the world any longer and moved his family to Humboldt, where he remained for the rest of his life. That choice is both a courageous act of boldness and a monumental display of cowardice all rolled into one.
Darren and I have always wondered what our generation's role in the world is supposed to be. After all, our parents came from the hippie generation, arguably one of the most passionate and idealistic in the modern age. Plus, they were rebels. That's supposed to be our job! How does the son rebel against the father when the father is, himself, a rebel? In Humboldt County, we found our answer. There, tucked away from the world, are the biggest rebels there are. And we were excited to tell their story, and in doing so, tell a part of our story.
With an amazing cast consisting of Fairuza Balk, Frances Conroy, Brad Dourif and Peter Bogdanovich, we were able make a film that captured the essence of the American films of the 70s that we love so dearly; films like Five Easy Pieces, Harold and Maude, and The Last Picture Show.
Humboldt County is a film we had to make because we felt a deep compunction to understand our place in the world. And what better way to explore that than alongside pot growing physics professors in the middle of the woods? Now that's worth five years.
If you find yourself in Austin for the festival, come by our screenings and say hello. Here's when we're playing:
Friday, March 7th at 6 PM at the Alamo Drafthouse, downtown
Tuesday, March 11th at 9:30 PM at the Alamo Lamar
Thursday, March 13th at 1:30 PM at the Alamo Lamar
Or check out our website for more information: www.humboldtcountymovie.com