Forever Flowers Gets Fresh with the Cannabis Community
Forever Flowers is a film project created and directed by Erin Granat, a Nor Cal transplant living in Los Angeles. The movie portrays pot and the public in a realistic light, a standalone from the token stoner comedies or hard hitting crime dramas. Blending elements of Virtual Reality (VR) and old-school storytelling, Forever Flowers offers a look into family, community, and dealing with legal weed, with the tag line, “When a wild west is tamed, what happens to the outlaws?”
Between a packed schedule of production and VR edits, Granat made time to sit down and talk about the project, her process, and what it’s like to be surrounded by the cinematic diva, Mary Jane, in true plant form.
Emerald: What brought you to movie-making in LA?
Erin Granat: When I was 24, I wrote a novel which picked up some attention and a manager, who brought me down to L.A. from Northern California. The book deal ended up falling through, and I was really bummed about it. Not sure what to do next, I signed up for a screenwriting class at the UCLA Extension program… and fell in love with screenwriting. Writing scripts was like writing candy.
Emerald: How did you transition from writing to making movies?
EG: I had the opportunity to intern at Rolling Stone magazine, and started writing about music and travel, a dream job really. To feed the screenwriter in me, I made productions with friends: Short films, scenes, playing with characters. [I] eventually started submitting to festivals. Some shorts made it into the festivals, and I optioned my first feature in the process. Unfortunately, that deal fell apart too. This was in 2012. I was not sure what to do next. After pouring so much time, creative energy, and resources into these projects, then watching them get picked up then dropped, I needed to regroup.
Emerald: Where did that take you?
EG:Well, I heard about trimmers. A friend of a friend had connections to a trim circle in the area, so I went. And, I felt like I had won a golden ticket. This was my ticket into a secret community, a world I did not even know I was looking for. [I] started working with the plant all day and I was barely even a [cannabis] smoker. I was in my mid twenties and was not coming from a stoney background, but I stumbled into this secret world and eight months later I was still trimming. There was a paradigm shift of everything I thought I knew. I was working full-time with the plant during harvest season, and traveling in the off season. Eventually I started writing again. The effect of working with cannabis on my life has been profound. I still work with the plant in some way or another.
Emerald: You left L.A. for cannabis and your life changed. After finding that golden ticket, why go back to L.A. and make
EG: I’m the type of person that when I start something, I have to see it through to completion. I’d started knocking on the entertainment industry’s door, and I couldn’t walk away now. In 2013-2014, I wrote and starred in a pilot, which was pure fun, a creative high, and reminded me why I was trying to do this in the first place. My friends and I filmed all of it in my Koreatown apartment on a $1,400 budget. We submitted [it] to the festival circuit, and it was picked up by a production company! But once again, the project fell through. That is the nature of show business, as I have come to know very well. I kept writing, always writing: features, shorts, scenes, etc. Even when I had other jobs, I kept writing. Then I started kickin’ around the idea of writing about cannabis, my experiences as a trimmer and working with growers and dispensaries. Since so much of the culture is [underground], I spent months checking in with leaders and mentors in the cannabis community. I told them about my idea and asked, “If I wrote an accurate portrayal of the lifestyle, would that be OK?”
Emerald: How did they respond?
EG: The response I’ve been getting thus far is so encouraging, I think our community is eager to see our culture represented in an authentic way, and Forever Flowers will do that. The world as we know it is shifting. I want to capture this as a moment in time, to represent the community’s extensive knowledge about the plant, as well as the risks to personal freedom and safety people have sacrificed for years for something that’s now — wave magic wand — legal.
Emerald: How is the Hollywood industry responding?
EG: There is a lot of interest because pot is happening right now. Usually the “notes” go like this: they liked the idea, but needed to see it more amped up, more gun violence, more turf wars, basically more like “Breaking Bad” for weed. This clashed with my concept. Forever Flowers depicts the life and beautiful culture of cannabis. In 2016, Forever Flowers was a finalist in the Austin Screenplay Competition. People liked this project without me changing the concept. On a very long train ride to Arizona, I considered this new vote of confidence and my past experience with projects falling through. I had an epiphany; I’ll make the movie myself.
Emerald: Why did you want to make a film about cannabis?
EG: I started researching CBD medicine, [CBD is cannabidiol – a non-psychoactive element found in marijuana]. More people are successfully using CBD to treat things like sports injuries and epilepsy. That is the heart of this project, to show the medical aspects of marijuana. Cannabis culture is about more than just freedom of the people; it’s also about the power of the plant.
Emerald: What has the research process been like?
EG: I come from a journalism background, so research has been heavy on this project. There’s also so much information to get straight: the science behind the medicine, the history of legislation and cannabis [itself].
Emerald: How did the VR aspect get
EG: When I first experienced a friend’s VR setup about a year ago, I was blown away. There’s just no experience like it. I immediately saw the potential for entertainment and for isolation. I knew I wanted to incorporate the technology into my next project, [so] the first step was figuring out how to incorporate VR footage into a 2D narrative. I’m collaborating with Special Place Productions, […] they’ve had their VR rig at all the Forever Flowers shoots thus far. So as we’re filming in the traditional way, we’re also capturing most scenes in virtual reality, to be stitched together and dropped into the film.
Emerald: Lastly, what was it like to be on set with pot plants everywhere?
EG: It was the best smelling set of all time. And it was like she was a character.