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SxSW 2015 Interview: ROLLING PAPERS director Mitch Dickman

by Jason Whyte

"It is a surprising ground floor look at year one look at cannabis legalization through the eyes and pen of the world's first marijuana editor at a major media outlet, the Denver Post, and his team of reporters and freelancers. Oh and I think people will laugh." Director Mitch Dickman on ROLLING PAPERS which will be screening at the 2015 South By Southwest Film Festival.

Is this your first SxSW/Austin experience and are you going to attend your screenings?

It's my first SxSW experience but not my first Austin visit! We did a docs in progress screening through the Austin Film Society in 2012). The feedback we received and the personal attention from the test screening was on point and valuable! I look forward to attending all my screenings at SxSW.

Your favorite barbecue/food in the city? Favorite beer?

I do love me some FRANKLINS! And definitely Lone Star.

Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker.

I am from a small town in Missouri. I then moved to Colorado as a ski bum, met my wife on the first movie I ever worked on where she played the lead twelve years ago and I am still hooked on making movies. I have worked on about 25 features; four of which I directed, and everything form low budget karate movies to shoot em up thrillers in New Orleans to line producing on BEING EVEL which is also playing SXSW this year.

How did ROLLING PAPERS all come together?

By sheer perseverance. We had no idea if it would be worth pursuing or where the story would go, but collectively we made something pretty special that has never been seen before.

What was your process in getting the film together?

Some of the producers had been making a film on medical marijuana and it got put on the back burner, but when recreational marijuana was set to take affect they approached me about directing, which was an amazing opportunity. Producer Britta Erickson mentioned Ricardo Baca as the world's first marijuana editor as a vehicle to tell the story, and the journey began.

What was your biggest challenge with this movie, and how did you over-come it?

Patience and just sticking it out. There were a lot of opportunities to jump ship; things like lack of funding, not sure where the story was going and other obstacles, but we stayed with it.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be? The moment where you thought "I had something"?

When the idea of Uruguay, South America as a potential trip and series of stories came together and how that could tie in the whole state by state versus federal legalization angle.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

Because I enjoy the challenge, the progression as an artist in my career, and trusting/leaning on collaborators, and not feeling like I have to do it myself. Sounds cliche, but my family is definitely my rock and I know I always go home to that. I drink way too much coffee and I also smoke.

For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and any tech related background.

Great question! I have worked with my director of photography Zack Armstrong for 10 years now. We met in film school, which was the best thing I got out of it. We don't really even have to talk as we have pretty great communication even though we disagree on a lot and spend too much time together. For the tech aspects, I always feel that is tertiary to what is on screen and who is behind the camera. But we shot with a Canon C300 with Lseries lenses. We went for a very observational rough look instead of something super clean and still.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW and in Austin?

Seeing an audience from be entertained and that collective energy in the room!

After the film screens at South By Southwest, where is the film going to show next?

We are screening at some upcoming festivals but it's not announced yet. Everyone can check our website and Twitter for updates.

Alamo Drafthouse and Paramount theaters in Austin aside, if you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?

I look forward to screening it in the small hometown theater in Missouri that I was kicked out of as a kid.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being generally disruptive during a screening of your film?

Come on Man! Just be respectful of others around you.

There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. What would you want to tell them if they are aspiring to become a filmmaker?

I am no different than any of them and keep at it. As cliche as it sounds a lot of people will say you can't and its up to you whether you listen to that or not.

And finally, what is the single, greatest movie that you have ever seen?

Hearts and Minds.

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview in our 35+ filmmaker interview series. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2015 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 13-21. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 03/11/15 17:01:35
last updated: 03/12/15 05:56:21
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