Under the Influence: A Documentary

Under the Influence: Artist Statement
            Being a fine arts photography major, I was a little unsure about having to make a documentary.  I was trying to think of something that would be visually appealing because that is how my brain works when photographing.  I realized though, that pretty pictures isn’t what a documentary is for.  A documentary is for exploring truths and answering questions.  So I tried to think of a question that I often ask myself.  I struggled for a little while, but one question that I do consider a lot is why and how American culture got so saturated by drug use.  It might sound like a ridiculous question coming from someone my age (my generation are seen as a little crazy) but considering the fact that I have never tried, or even really been interested in trying drugs, I was curious.  I never really saw the appeal that my peers throughout high school and college so far have found in drugs.  On top of that, following this year’s election, Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana at the State Government level.  The even better question that I was wondering was if all of these people I knew who were using drugs were going end up crazy, broke drug addicts, living in their parents basements, and what that meant for my future self and family.   So I set out to find (hopefully) and document those around me who are or were using drugs and are successful.  The definition of successful for my purposes was similar to that of society in general; someone who held a regular job, who maybe went to school or paid rent, someone who had a family or a potential dream, who didn’t spend all of their time doing drugs and sleeping.  I did in fact find these people.  The majority of the people I found mainly smoked pot, but they also did occasionally use other drugs, and I was able to, through some lucky connections, find a grown adult who was willing to tell his story – in which he supports and even accredits his success in the realm of theater sound design to his past use of coke.  My roommates and I laughed listening back to his interview the first time – this man’s interview sold cocaine like it was an infomercial, and we were nearly convinced that coke was a good idea by the end. (No, we weren’t actually planning on going out and buying drugs, he just spoke so highly of the drug that it was funny.) Immersing myself in this world in itself was an experience.   It’s something completely foreign to me, (I know, what kind of 20 year old are you, most people my age are probably thinking,) but in all seriousness it was fascinating to me.  I ended up with tons of audio interview that I had to cut about 40+ minutes from.  I had to shoot some extra footage to complete the documentary the way I wanted it to.  I feel that in the end, I succeeded in what I wanted to do and I am very happy with it.  I personally don’t think that I will ever need drugs to get me through, but it was a good learning experience to try and understand these people and their stories and why the do what they do.  Though unfortunately not all drug users are like the ones I interviewed, I think that my future may not be AS screwed as I had previously thought it because of my generations rampant drug use.  And in the end, if you think about it, the generation from the 60’s that raised most of us did the same things in the past – and I think most of us turned out okay.

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