I got into documentary making because I was inspired by reading my uncles book called 'Grow Jamaica'. The book is about using ganja for food, fuel, fibre and medicine in Jamaica. My uncle (Reverend Leeroy Campbell who died in January 2009 aged 78) was a ganja activist and scientist and under the banner of 'Friends International' they incorporated Cannabis Hemp Research Institute of Science & Technology. He had worked in this field for 20 years with his wife Janice who co-wrote the book.
The documentary and the book both provide a comprehensive look at the economic, social, spiritual and environmental impact of a cannabis industry in Jamaica. Basically on returning from my annual holiday to Jamaica I rounded up my friends who were studying film at university, gave them an outline of what I wanted them to do and paid them to go to JA and make this documentary for me in 2004.
I started a publishing company called Classic Black Press and a website currently being redeveloped and we agreed a fee that they would produce the dvd for me and I would own the rights to the film. They have kept some footage for their library and gone on to other things. As luck would have it I was able to attract some names to the doc (Stephen Marley & Oliver Samuels are probably the most well known people in doc) and a short 10 minute version was credited at the British Film Festival (see utube trailer 'Grow Jamaica').
I then got call to say they wanted to show the whole film at the Caribbean Film Festival. My uncle, his wife and I went to the festival where it was the only film that everyone was talking about. The press came and done interviews etc (which were not aired, as far as I know), an impromptu heated debate began at end of film, and I was approached by David Coy from Palm Pictures, a distributer from Apple and some finance people.
However, some of the music used had not been cleared and although Apple said they could possibly work around this I was new to this business and decided to try and get clearances first and then go back to distributers (probably a big mistake!) or perhaps even self distribute! That was 3 years ago and clearances has been a 'bit of a headache' so I ended up having to do cover versions of the songs that were not cleared (about 10 songs each running for approx. 10 seconds) and edit the movie to accommodate the changes.
Fortunately the musicians and editor (Penelope Andrews brother and his friend) were extremely good and the doc has been enhanced considerably since it was originally made. I have just begun the process of applying for synch rights to enable me play the cover songs in the movie legally in the larger festivals and possibly small theatrical run. It has been a long but enjoyable journey and I have never lost faith in the documentary which deals with a very important issue from a different perspective.
I hope I haven't dragged my intro on for too long but once I started to write it was difficult to condense into a few paragraphs.