Having returned from the Edmonton International Film Festival, indie producer Adam Scorgie talks to Jack Walsh about boxing, going to Parliament Hill and the changing nature of cannabis legalisation
“His life plays like a Shakespearean tragedy,” is how documentary film producer Adam Scorgie describes the subject of his recently released The Good Son: The Life of Ray Boom Boom Mancini, detailing the tragic story of Ray Mancini, a former WBC Lightweight Boxing World Champion.
Mancini’s father was drafted into the Second World War prior to fighting for the belt, as Scorgie explains, “Ray made a promise at twelve that I will win the world title for you. At twenty-one, he won the world title and gave it to his father.
“His reason to get into boxing was for moral and righteous reasons. In his third title defence, he fights a fighter named Duk Koo Kim, and in the fourteenth round drops Kim, and Kim dies of injuries sustained in the fight. Kim had found out three months earlier that he had a baby on the way. Ray gets into boxing for righteous reasons to win a world title for his father, and takes the life of one in the process.”
This is the type of film Scorgie thought he would be making following the release of his 2006 documentary The Union: The Business Behind Getting High. Documenting the British Columbia marijuana trade, the film explored the many views of those in the know of the drug war, from the players to the play makers.
“The Union did so well because we went in blind and we were three guys in a basement suite wanting to make an entertaining film on the subject matter because it seems to be in the news every other day. Then we looked at the macro and micro economics and how policies change and how this business has grown up around current policies and grew into something else.”
Having made the festival circuit in Canada and the U.S., the film was leaked online, receiving millions of views. The film gained a cult following, and Scorgie would eventually be invited to present the film to Parliament Hill, to further educate Canadian ministers on drug legislation.
“There was a really healthy discussion afterwards and policies in Canada that they were looking to put through were rethought after watching The Union and seeing it from that perspective, even though it’s six years old.”
Scorgie never thought of making a follow up, but his decisions were not based around his needs, moreso of the community built out of The Union’s success. “The internet created a demand and that demand spoke to us. We raised a quarter million dollars in 40 days from Kickstarter.”
Titled The Culture High, the film follows as a sequel to The Union seven years on, exploring the new arguments, the new heroes and villains, and the many reactions to the changing nature of cannabis legalisation. “We’re looking at what’s changed since we left off.
“We’re also looking at the global shift in the way that people are viewing drug laws, particularly the cannabis laws. Cannabis laws always seem to be the citadel for all the drug laws because it is the most widely used illegal substance bar none. There is no other illegal substance that comes close to it, so it remains a focal point of the argument.”
Interviews have ranged from Richard Branson to Snoop Dogg, Howard Marks to Lester Grinspoon. All seem to be relaying back the same message. “We’ve interviewed a former drug czar, people in parliament, ex-DEA, police officers, five of the most recognised medical professionals in the world.
“They have studied its effects on the brain, on addiction, and all of them will tell you that behind closed doors even the biggest people think there needs to be a major change, but none of them will go out and admit it. One of the reasons is that politicians don’t like to admit they made a mistake. That’s the biggest thing. Not for anything else.”
Regarding the ultimate aims of The Culture High, Scorgie related it as wanting “to inspire people to make their own research. The best kind of movies keeps your mind spinning. What separates us from our competition is that we don’t go out and say were going to establish this or try and get this in before the next vote. We want to make something great, and something entertaining too.”
Scorgie always will consider himself a filmmaker and a journalist. He is not pushing one particular side, merely providing a way for those sides to meet. He believes that he’s merely relaying the information, for no other reason than pure understanding, “We set out to do a true journalistic look at the situation and that’s why The Union has that line at the end: ‘the only thing that makes sense is that none of this makes any sense.’”