In anticipation of the Illinois premiere of Frenchy Dreams of Hashish, which is scheduled for September 23, Illinois News Joint interviewed the director of the documentary, Jake Remington, for more insight into directing the film, spending time with famed hashmaker Frenchy Cannoli, and smoking some of the best cannabis on the planet.
ChiTown Movies, located at 2343 South Throop Street in the Pilsen Neighborhood, will host Illinois premiere. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m., and the movie will start after sunset. Twenty percent of proceeds from all screenings of the film in theaters and online will be donated to the Origins Council, a nonprofit advocacy association that serves 900 licensed small and independent cannabis businesses in six legacy-producing counties throughout California. Produced by collabo!, an international creative agency founded by partners Jake Remington and Lance Steagall, the documentary is currently on tour throughout North America.
A few days ago, @medsforheads conducted the following interview with Frenchy Dreams of Hashish director Jake Remington.
Did you have an interest in hash before working on FDOH?
Yeah, definitely. To be honest, I didn’t know much about it even though I’ve used cannabis since I was fifteen. I didn’t live in states where it was legal so it wasn’t as easy to get or as prevalent as it is here in Europe [Remington currently lives in Rome] so it was cool to dive into this world and experience the level that Frenchy and these farmers took it to as we were shooting. Learning so much about hash and about the plant was really eye opening. Frenchy would always talk about The Secret Life of Plants and the fact that plants are conscious beings that communicate with one another. There was this question of, “did humans invent agriculture or did plants invent agriculture and adapt to convince humans to be their pollinators?” Getting into the layers of gardening down to the soil itself was part of why I loved being out there on the farms with Frenchy because it wasn’t just about cannabis, it was about sustainability and being in touch with the true nature of things.
How long did it take to make the film? Has the stigma around cannabis presented any challenges in publicizing it?
Lance and I met Frenchy in Barcelona during Spannabis in March 2017. We got to hang out with him for a couple of weeks and get to know each other; he actually liked what we had done in Thailand since he had traveled there and felt that we had really captured the vibe. Then, after shooting one of his workshops in May, we filmed that whole summer, like three or four trips to the Emerald Triangle and then two or three more in 2018. After post-production, we had some complications trying to secure distribution since some platforms have advertisers that don’t want to be associated with cannabis. Even uploading YouTube clips, we might get flagged for sensitive content if it contains cannabis or hash. But being ‘DIY’ people with independent spirits, we figured out a way to distribute it ourselves. We hope to eventually make it to Netflix and serve as a counterpoint to shows like Murder Mountain that have a more sensationalist tone when it comes to cannabis cultivation in that area.
What was it like spending time with Frenchy?
He was like a saint of cannabis. He would walk around festivals, cannabis cups, wherever, and have his hookah that he’d set up in the middle of it and draw a huge crowd. People would gather to try his coveted hash, seeing it as a rare luxury product, and he would just throw twenty grams in and get everybody high. He had his standards but there was never a snobby attitude. If someone handed him something, he would take a puff and decide if it was for him or not. If he liked it, he could be just as excited about someone else’s stuff as about his own.
One of Frenchy’s missions was to garner attention and support for smaller farming operations in the Emerald Triangle, was that a goal of the film as well?
For sure. These people have dedicated their lives to a righteous way of farming with soil and techniques that provide the best expression of the plant. When we were filming, I’d go home to New York for a month and a half, come back to California and find that laws had changed in that short time. The changes were happening so fast that the farmers’ heads were spinning, so it made for an organic real-time document of what was going on up there. At the same time, Frenchy was very vocal about going to bat for these farmers, saying, “my hash is nothing without them.” Some farms we went to were Bon Vivant, Mean Gene’s Freeborn Selections, Swami Select, and Leo Stone’s Aficionado.
When visiting these farms and trying the crops, was the difference in quality immediately noticeable?
Yeah, it was insane. They would roll these big, fat, farmer-sized joints and we’d all smoke together. Growing up, I would sometimes get anxious after smoking. Now I know it was either the specific strain or possibly a pesticide that caused it. But with the farmers, it was always the best experience. We were smoking constantly and I never felt uncomfortable; it was clearly some of the best weed in the world. I still reflect on those days with gratitude for how blessed I was.
What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?
It’s all about quality, doing whatever it takes to preserve that by supporting the farmers who have integrity in their product. That’s Frenchy’s legacy and his ethos that I hope people will take to heart. It’s also kind of a “what not to do” as far as state government and big corporations are concerned when it comes to legalizing cannabis. When we were shooting, we saw how people were hurting, how their livelihoods got taken away because of this legislation. One thing Frenchy stressed was that legalization is a precious moment that has to be handled correctly or it will fuck everything else up.
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