Extraterrestrial marijuana fighters! What? You may be thinking, this s insane. But it is actually very true and makes a lot of sense. Director and writer, Richard Cranor grew up in Alabama originally and he seen some “things that people would consider to be pretty crazy.” He wrote and directed one of the most original films released in a long time. It may seem like a quirky stoner film but if you watch it and pay attention you may learn something. STAR LEAF (2015) stars: Richard Cranor as Ranger Dave, Julian Gavilanes, Russell Hodgkinson (whom Richard truly gave him freedom to play a great character), Svetlana Soutirina and Kiki Yeung. Mr. Cranor was worried about the consequences of having real marijuana growing while filming but he stuck to his guns and on the very day the government decided they would not prosecute anyone who was growing or providing medical marijuana!
He was saved as well as his girlfriend who is a lawyer so the movie business can be a tad insane. Richard is lively, incredibly smart to talk to and seeking the truth in a world where most of us are wearing blinders. He took some time to speak with Horrornews.net and share a little truth.
Where did you come up with the concept for STAR LEAF?
Mr. Cranor- Doesn’t hurt that I am insane! I have been introduced to a lot of strange things. I learned that over the years there is a lot of truth to strange paradoxical things! I am from Alabama originally and there are some people down there that did not get past the third grade and you think what are they going to know? You go down there and listen to them sometimes and you are almost dismissive and then they say something so profound it just blows you away and that is where truth comes from. You find truth that is hidden. For me to put the marijuana and the aliens together and creating this situation was to understand consciousness.
Was it a challenge to shoot the film and what challenges did you face because this is such an original film without an ax wielding killer?
Mr. Cranor- When we first pushed this film, we pretty much just told everyone this would be another stoner genre. But really the whole time I had big plans to make something a lot more involved and leveled and layered. We were just trying to hide under the umbrella of the typical dumb sort of Hollywood take on stoners and meanwhile do what we were going to do.
What was the process when you delivered the film to distributors and the movie industry?
Mr. Cranor- It may not have been what they expected but even better. It is very difficult to make because of the scope of what we were trying to do.
How did the cast react?
Mr. Cranor- everyone was really thrilled because when they read the script they realized that it was going to be something a lot more in depth. You kind of have to look at it the way a chef prepares a buffet, you learn to juggle a lot of different things at once.
Russell Hodgkinson was used in such an amazing, powerful way. How did you bring such a great character out of him?
Mr. Cranor- Absolutely, Russell was the very first actor I cast because I wrote that part just for him. I never had to cast anyone because Russell introduced me to all the other actors in the film. I spotted that in Russell when I first met him. He has this all American, biker kind of guy with a back story. I didn’t really know what it was but I knew he was being under-used. [Side note: Russell is amazing in this film] Russell could kill it in comedy and drama. He is probably the first person to sign up for the sequel.
Will there be a Sequel?
Mr. Cranor- We are getting to the point now where we are getting so much positive press and we are getting so much interest in the back story of the aliens and stuff. I have been wanting to do a sequel anyway. So we are just waiting to see how things are going and if they keep going this well, we could get some more money to explore the alien backstory cause I do have an entire back story about everything.
What about the GMO back story for the sequel?
Mr. Cranor- I also want to tackle the GMO story. I would like to have a bad GMO company come in there and try to steal. The whole film is about nature and it is about life and how you cannot control it.
What do you think will happen to marijuana in the future?
Mr. Cranor- There will be corporate weed. They will try and take over.
Do you feel big corporate companies want films like this released?
Mr. Cranor- Life can never be owned, unless you allow it to be. That is a stupid, stupid idea. A company like that is not going to put your interest first. Nature gives you all kinds of stuff for free unless you get it from the store but you could always grow it yourself. That is a freedom, growing an orange tree. That is a freedom.
As a director, what director have inspired you throughout your career?
Mr. Cranor- I have always loved Spielberg and Lucas! I am also a huge Ridley Scott fan and I am a huge John Hughes fan too, he made a lot of great eighties comedies that were existential comedies that were not just stupid, typical sophomore humor that we have today. He found a way to elevate humor and drama the way that no way has ever matched. The top of my list right now is David Lynch and Richard Kelly who did DONNIE DARKO (2001) I think DONNIE DARKO is probably the one of the best American film in modern history. Audiences really responded to it after it was released straight to DVD.
How do you think David Lynch and Richard Kelly make audiences react?
Mr. Cranor- They both have a way of capturing the mystery of life and the deeper roots of life. I think you get immersed in their movies. There is also a deep spirituality to their movies.
Were you trying to tell more than just a story with STAR LEAF?
Mr. Cranor- You do not want to preach but it’s not preaching it is sort of like the whole responsibility that a film-maker has is to get the audience and their cultures back in touch with a bigger reality. You are the bridge between the known and the unknown. It is about understanding some of the deepest things in life are. In STAR LEAF we have this whole epidemic now of people we ship out to war and we have no system to take care of them where as other cultures fought and have war but they have some kind of systems culturally that is more spiritually based. Now what is happening is we are cranking these guys out and they are coming home broken and then we find some new guys and there is no real understanding of what the cost really is!
How can we all be involved to help and learn to understand the troops?
Mr. Cranor- It is up to the person on the journey and as a society we should all be actively investigating on how to help our troops.
What would you really like people to walk away with after watching STAR LEAF?
Mr. Cranor- I want people to have a fun film, a fun ride but instead think of why things are happening and how they can change them!?
What advice do you have for filmmakers, writers and actors?
Mr. Cranor- I would say that there has never been a better time and a worse time to be in the film business. The distribution end of it has totally been changed. It is really good to make a film because the technology has gotten so good but it’s also never been harder with money unless you have gotten some novel new way with distribution and marketing which is kind of what we are doing with STAR LEAF. We are actually going to be selling the movie and accessories and also creating STAR LEAF products and we created STAR LEAF Media right which is a marijuana project and tee-shirts to offer to veterans. We have created our own universe and I think writers and directors will have to start thinking about that. Create your own niche that you feel really passionate about. Create your own universe. Don’t worry about Hollywood if you cannot break in right away. In the end, you just have to do it and have some faith that it will work it and so far things are really working out.
Why do you think the Art is not as celebrated as it should be?
Mr. Cranor- In our culture, in the old days my job would have been the guy who tells the stories around the campfire, that is what I would have been a thousand years ago but today I am the guy who makes the film and you are the person that writes. It is not celebrated like it should be because the people in the Western culture really get the significance of being artist. We tend to blow off Artist and we do not really have a lot of programs to support the arts and that reflects in our culture.
Why you think PTSD is so ignored by Hollywood?
Mr. Cranor- I am horrified by the fact that there are not any movies out there about soldiers with PTSD except occasionally Hollywood will try to make something but it does not really scratch the surface. This is my opportunity to dive a little deeper and connect on different levels.
How do you think social media affects the films? Helpful or hindering?
Mr. Craner- Totally for Indie, it is the only way to go because you are competing with this huge machine that is Hollywood. It has helped us get the word out and positive press. I do not know what we would do without it! I love it!
Any final words?
Mr. Cranor – The usual, please follow us and we are just getting the party started! We want to start doing outreach programs.
“The industry really needs original voices” RICHARD CRANOR
FACEBOOK – www.facebook.com/richard.cranor
The highly-anticipated science-fiction/horror film is now available from Leomark Studios, available to order from www.starleafmovie.com/
Synopsis : A group of friends set off to find a secret forest of marijuana hidden deep in the Olympic Mountains. Legend has it the plants are of extra-terrestrial origin, and two ex-Marines among the group hope it will cure their PTSD born from hard combat in Afghanistan.
Starring Richard Cranor (THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE), Russell Hodgkinson (Z NATION, BIG FISH), Julian Gavilanes (GRINDER, Z NATION), and Kiki Yeung (GODMACHINE).[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSRCNROi3Pk[/youtube]