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“In Humboldt County, everyone has sticky stuff on their fingers…Every business in this county relies on the marijuana business,” proclaims a subject in One Good Year, a new documentary nearing completion that is based on the cannabis growers of this area. To outsiders and, even to some who live here, the scope of the marijuana business in this community is unimaginable. Local documentary maker, Mikal Jakubal, examines that world by moving intimately through the lives of four local marijuana farmers (see the trailer above.)

Jakubal, who in addition to film-making owns a nursery, is a volunteer firefighter, and writes a blog in Humboldt County, began production on One Good Year in February of 2010—just in time for Prop. 19 which attempted to legalize marijuana in California.  He followed his subjects through their growing season and through the political upheavals that Prop. 19 brought.  In the process he tells the story of many in Humboldt County.

He explains,

Humboldt pot farmers maintain one of the last remaining small farming economies in the country, the last of a tradition where people working the land with their hands could still sustain themselves and their families. This is why we have to show the world the real face of pot farming. Otherwise, when the inevitable regulation or legalization happens, we’ll be excluded by laws based in the paranoid public perception of pot farming as a dangerous, gangster activity. As the marijuana economy moves mainstream, we need to keep it democratic and accessible to farmers at any scale. I think my film will go a long way toward that end by influencing public perception in a positive way.

According to Jakubal, the filming is long done. He is now working with an editor. However, he needs money for the next stage.  He’s put his project on the innovative Kickstarter funding platform which helps creative people gather support for their work.  The creators, in this case Jakubal, set a funding goal and a deadline.  Then people pledge to support at various levels and in return are promised rewards for different levels of funding.  (Here’s more details of how Kickstarter works.)

Jakubal says, “I like to think of crowdfunding as “fan funding,” since it directly connects viewers and supporters with producers and directors, eliminating the traditional funding gatekeepers. If there’s an audience for a film, it can be made and distributed. Everyone with a few bucks to spare becomes a film (micro-)producer.” Jakubal has set the goal of $31,000 in three weeks.

The movie incorporates music from the area. “We’ve also got an awesome soundtrack,” says Jakubal. “Humboldt is full of home-grown and very talented musicians, many of whom are excited to let us use their songs in ONE GOOD YEAR. “Family Felony” by the Camo Cowboys was a perfect fit for the trailer and Cash Johnson graciously let us use it.”

The goal for this movie, say Jakubal is more than just telling the local story though.  He says that he hopes to “grow a community interested in both the film and the discussion about legalization and medical use, pro or con.”

Those who help fund One Good Year at the $30 or above level should expect to see their copy of the movie in July of 2013. Others will have to wait til it comes to a theater or festival near you.


Full disclosure: I’ve donated photos and am a supporter of the film on Kickstarter.