Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What is Humboldt anyway?

Hello e-universe! Some of the blog readers have been requesting a little bit more information on the history of this project and our relationship to Humboldt County. If anything, Darren and I are slaves to the public whimsy, so I thought I'd kowtow as quickly as possible to the demands of the 1 (or 2) of you who are currently reading this. Also, I kinda really wanted to use the word "kowtow" in a sentence. And I did. Twice, now. So there.

Neither Darren or I grew up in Humboldt, but the roots go deep. Darren's aunt and uncle moved into the beautiful redwood forests of Humboldt County over twenty-five years ago and Darren has been visiting them since he was a precocious, suburban, midwestern youngster. He had regaled me with stories of the place for many years but it wasn't until about five years ago that I went for the first time. Darren and I headed up to HC to get away from LA, isolate ourselves and work on a script we had been writing. But once we got there, and I was introduced to many people in the community, we knew that we had a new story to tell. HC, to me, was (and remains) a fascinating place. It is, of course, absolutely gorgeous but the community of people that reside there are truly unique - both in incredibly positive and deeply
unfortunate ways. How's that for vague? (see the movie and you'll know what I mean!)

It should be noted that though our film is called "Humboldt County" we do not, for a minute, pretend as if we've made a film that represents the entire county. There are too many different communities and cultures to do that in one story. Instead, we set out to make a film that represents one little sliver of life in the county, as seen through our distinctly outsider eyes. Our aim, though was to represent that sliver as accurately as we could.

That's it for today! Hopefully, by the end of this week, Darren and I will be joining our esteemed cinematographer Ernest Holzman at Technicolor to view the 35mm print of the movie for the first time. I'm getting blue balls just thinking about it....



Brennan said...

Hi there,
I was in your movie when you were shooting at Moonstone Beach. My name is Brennan Burke-Martin (I don't know if you remember me, but I blew smoke in the face of Peter Bogdanovich's character) and I would like to know what is going on with "Humboldt County." Is there a trailer? Anything. Contact me at brenno1616@yahoo.com. Thanks a lot.


Anonymous said...

Whoa, dude! Those are some pretty illuminating words about your film "Humboldt County". I hope the script writers are not contributors to this info blog.

Anonymous said...

I am curious how you will all depict our home. I grew up here, went away for college and grad school, returned and have had a great life in what I consider to be the most beautiful place on earth. I am saddened by the depressed look Eureka has and by the rampant drug use. Now Arcata's homes (many, many) are being used to grow pot, which (and nothing really against the whacky weed) it ruining neighborhoods- truly an awful problem. For more info on this, contact Kevin Hoover, editor of the Arcata Eye.

We look forward to seeing your film. Is it a documentary or more of a fun movie?

Signed- a "local" who loves it here.

mresquan said...

can't access the trailer on the homepage,what gives?

Danny, writer/director said...

Hey Anonymous! Thanks for taking an interest in the film! And posting your comments. Darren and I are actually the writer/directors of the film so the "script writers" are indeed contributors to this blog.

As for your curiosity about how we will depict HC - let me say that you are correct that the place is absolutely beautiful. And I'm proud that we've captured that on film. In regards to the pot-growing aspect of the county, a film about HC wouldn't be accurate if it didn't include that aspect of life there. But in the end, our film is not about pot, it's about family. The pot is just a backdrop for a story about a unique group of people and the ways they affect one another.

Danny, writer/director said...

Also, Brennan! Hello! Of course I remember you! Can't wait for you to see your work in action. Keep checking the site for details about the premier and when you'll be able to check it out.

Anonymous said...

OK...as a Humboldt County resident, let me say that while you say the story isn't about the pot culture here (and I don't deny there is one...there is one in thousands of towns across the country), to depict a joint on the poster/ad only serves to stereotype our beautiful county. Yes, we have soooo much more.

Danny, writer/director said...

Mr. Anonymous,

You are right, I do say that our film is not about pot. In the same way that "The Godfather" is not really about mob violence. It's about family. The mafia is merely an interesting backdrop for a discussion of that particular family. There is, of course, a great deal of mob violence in "The Godfather" but that, again, is not it's focus. The violence is merely a narrative device through which the filmmakers explore issues of family.

In the same way, our film uses pot as a device to explore family, generational gaps, and coming of age in a disconnected culture.

I do not deny that there are a thousand different stories and a million different communities within Humboldt. We've decided to tell one. Pot does play a role in the film (that's why it's on the poster) but when I say it's not "about" that, I mean it. The pot is merely a backdrop to explore a host of interesting characters. As I said, we do not pretend to have made a movie that depicts everything that Humboldt County is. Only a tiny, little part of it.

I disagree that a depiction of pot in regards to Humboldt is in any way stereotyping the area. Much of our story focuses around Southern Humboldt - not the area around Eureka. And in our many visits, thousands of hours of research and interviews, and great deal of time spent in the specific area we depict in the county, pot plays a role - whether you like it or not. Again, I understand your concern and only hope that when you see the movie you feel that we have approached the subject matter in a fair and entertaining way.

Anonymous said...


Your point is well taken, but all that having been said, the point about stereotyping represents a valid concern. To a great many people who know little or nothing about our area, Humboldt = Pot. Regardless of your storyline, putting that giant joint on the movie poster cements in the minds of those who already make that association that it is a valid one. Perhaps worse, it creates that association in the minds of people who know nothing about us at all.

It's kind of ironic that this poster appears right on the heels of the creation of our new Film and Digital Media Commission, whose objective is to bring more film industry presence to our county. Could the first major film project in this new era actually end up working against that purpose by perpetuating a stigma we've been working so hard to overcome?

Danny, writer/director said...

Mr. Annonymous,

First of all, thanks for contributing to this lively online discussion.

Second, while I understand your point, frankly the purpose of a fiction narrative film is not to provide a postcard or brochure or list of talking points that sell the public on a particular city or region. The point of a fiction narrative film is to tell a good story and entertain.

Third, again, I understand your concern and just ask you to give the film a chance before disparaging it. I have the feeling you are going to be pleasantly surprised.

As we prepared and shot the film in Humboldt we had enormous cooperation from both the Humboldt film commission, as well as a plethora of residents and officials. Many of them had an opportunity to read early drafts of the script and were very supportive of the image of Humboldt as represented in the film.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the response. I guess it wasn't clear that the point I was making isn't about the content of the film. I understand the issues and and am well aware of the role the film commission played, understanding that they were not kept in the dark regarding the content either. I should have mentioned that I was an extra in a minor scene myself, a great experience that changed forever the way I look at movies.

The only thing I'm getting hung up on is that big honkin' joint in the poster. You may be giving the public a bit too much credit by assuming they'll see much of anything beyond that image. You have to keep in mind that not everybody sees every movie they see advertising for. I suspect that in fact most people never see most movies, even highly successful ones. I hope I'm wrong about this one and it sweeps the Oscars, but the far greater likelihood is that many many more people will see the poster than will ever see the movie. It's the people who see the poster but will never see the movie I'm worried about. A lot of those people will get from it one thing. Humboldt = Pot. That tagline, "It was a little further out than he thought," could even be construed to mean that pot is an even bigger deal than people already believe it to be, what with him standing on a 60 pound joint and all. Wow, look at that thing literally creating clouds in the sky; no wonder they get so much rain up there!

I just wish there were a way to convey what the movie is about without leaving the casual observer with that image.

I'm very excited about this movie. I can't wait to see it, and have been checking IMDB regularly for news, but I was just a bit bummed when I saw that poster. I suspect I'm not the only one.

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Humboldt County I am quite curious about how you will depict this miserable cultural wasteland. I hope that you tear it to shreds.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like marijuana than don't smoke it . Horray for Danny . He's done an excellent job . To those who don't like the joint on the poster ..........sounds to me as though you've had one too many to drink ! I'm proud to be living in the Weed capitol of the world . I'm employed , responsible & professional .Keep up the good work guys .