THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!
Friends, I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude and excited to say we surpassed our $50K goal!! The community has spoken and let us know there is a desire to get this film make and out into the world. We will keep forging ahead to finish this film!
Since we have TWO hours left of our campaign, we are pushing towards a stretch goal of an extra $12,000 that will help us get an editor hired immediately to start the process of editing the 300+ hours of footage we have from filming in the field. Yes, I know, we’re pushing for more, but we have to. Help us hire an editor ASAP!!!!
Meanwhile, enjoy this amazing in-the-moment video of us realizing we reached our goal!
Please join us in making this historic, groundbreaking film about the incredible women revolutionizing the cannabis industry!
While the documentary itself has more of a serious tone, we thought we'd have some fun with our personal appeal video to show you what a day in the life of making "Lady Buds" has been like.
About the film.
Lady Buds is a documentary feature that follows six courageous women as they transition from the illicit market to the newly regulated commercial market in the California cannabis industry. As farmers, entrepreneurs, medicine makers and activists, our Lady Buds are modern-day superheroes battling corporate interests and risking financial ruin to fight for the industry they helped create, and for the survival of their community.
We are still filming through the end of 2018 and fundraising at the same time. Our Kickstarter goal covers the costs of finishing production, while our stretch goal allows us to hire an editor and begin post-production. With your help, we’ll be able to move forward with filming and push this urgent and timely project closer to completion.
Why this film matters.
After legalization rolled out in California, many marijuana consumers celebrated. But for those who shaped the cannabis industry in the shadows for decades, the new legislation left many legacy small farmers, medicinal patients, and marginalized communities unprotected and unacknowledged. In making Lady Buds, it's become apparent to me that the mission of compassion that birthed the medical marijuana movement over 20 years ago, is in jeopardy and being threatened by corporate greed. Lady Buds focuses on the community who passionately believe in promoting the healing benefits of cannabis and those who are working to de-stigmatize cannabis so people all over the world can benefit from its medicinal properties. Lady Buds has been filming this radical change unfold in real-time, capturing the social and political side of legalization most people do not know about, through a female lens, something rare and a perspective often overlooked.
Why I'm making this film.
Last year, when I learned about the unusually high percentage of women in leadership roles in the cannabis industry — more than any other industry in the US — I had to investigate. I packed up my camera gear and drove to the famed Emerald Triangle where I was invited to visit several women’s cannabis farms. For someone who's had a relationship with cannabis most of her life, this was an invitation I just couldn't turn down. From there, I interviewed more than 100 women and began filming their stories. I became a trusted insider and was welcomed into a cautious community. I soon realized I was capturing something very special and very personal. I was witnessing first-hand the hidden struggles of several brave women coming out of the shadows, and this was something mainstream media wasn’t covering. I wanted to represent women in cannabis in a fresh and authentic way — different from pop culture's focus on stereotypes, stoner films and “bro-culture.” Hence, Lady Buds was born.
Looking back over the past 19 months of filming, I can’t believe the amount of adventures this project has brought me on and the amazing people I've met in the cannabis community. I am honored to be collecting an archive of a community in transition in this historic moment. From filming behind the scenes at the legendary Emerald Cup to filming the fires in Mendocino, to filming the determination each woman exhibits as they tenaciously press forward despite all the challenges, to having an opportunity to meet one of cannabis' greatest OG connoisseurs and promoters, Snoop Dogg, Lady Buds has documented the twists and turns of legalization like no other film or TV show ever has. With a journalistic and cinematic eye, Lady Buds uncovers the truth of cannabis legalization through the character-driven and personal stories of six incredibly brave and determined women.
The amazing women of LADY BUDS.
Karyn Wagner is a former New Yorker and serial entrepreneur who put her roots in Humboldt 21 years ago. Bringing city and business smarts to small farmers, her goal is to help cultivators survive legalization by marketing the biggest brand in cannabis: Humboldt weed.
Felicia Carbajal is a California native, a longtime Los Angeles resident and an activist in both the Latinx and LGBT communities. She is dedicated to ensuring all minorities have equal access to cannabis and determined to help bring social and restorative justice to minorities affected by the War on Drugs, while holding new industry players accountable.
As a second generation cannabis farmer, Chiah Rodriques co-founded a Mendocino farm alliance that fights to maintain the community and values she grew up with. With the price of weed dropping and a leap of faith into the unknown, Chiah must find balance between working on the farm and parenting her two sons amidst the harsh financial pressures of legalization.
Sue Taylor is a 70-year-old retired Catholic school principal whose mission is to open the first cannabis dispensary for seniors that would offer alternatives to pharmaceuticals. As an African-American businesswoman in a white and male-dominated industry, Sue pushes forward despite the city’s attempt to hold up the construction of her Berkeley dispensary.
As "OG" cannabis farmers, Emerald Cup Judges and best friends, the Bud Sisters have seen it all. With a Humboldt fatty being perpetually passed between them, Pearl and Dr. Joyce offer both colorful anecdotes about the wild black market days and sobering, present-day accounts of longtime farmers who have lived in the Humboldt hills for decades, struggling to survive legalization.
Why I need your support.
I have been working on this documentary for close to two years, and it has been mostly self-funded on sweat and credit cards. It's been a true labor of love, and I feel honored to be making it. But Lady Buds is not just my film — it's OUR film. And we can change hearts and minds around cannabis healing through the power of film. I have reached a point where I can't bring this film to completion on my own, which is why I'm turning to you and the community at large for support on Kickstarter.
How you can participate.
- You can make a contribution to Kickstarter, no donation is too big or small! Do you happen to work for a company that provides a company match? That would really be awesome!
- You can spread the word! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and while you’re at it, share a link to this Kickstarter Campaign on your own social media streams!
- You can share your cannabis story and contribution by making a “Pass the Virtual Joint” video and come out of the cannabis closet to show your activism and help de-stigmatize cannabis!
LADY BUDS accolades and recent media.
Lady Buds is featured in the current publication WOMEN & WEED, on newsstands now!
Listen to LADY BUDS Karyn Wagner, Chiah Rodriques, Dr. Joyce and Director Russo on THE CANNABIS CONNECTION from the 9/14/18 show where they discuss making the film and the challenges legalization has place on NorCal cultivators.
Director Chris J. Russo was on KMUD Community Radio on Sept 7th talking about the making of Lady Buds and focusing on the women of Humboldt County.
The Eureka Times-Standard also interviewed Director Russo, Karyn Wagner and The Bud Sisters for their article, "OGs of Mary Jane: Women of Cannabis Highlighted in Film," and to Mendocino Generations for their blog, "Upcoming Film LADY BUDS Highlights Plight of Cannabis Farmers."
Lady Buds has been invited to attend IFP's Spotlight on Documentaries Week in September. We are one of 60 documentary feature film projects selected, and the only one focusing on the topic of cannabis!
Lady Buds was honored to receive a 2018 Summer Grant Award from the Rogovy Foundation, one of six documentary projects chosen!
Lady Buds was recently recognized by the Roy W. Dean Foundation as one of the 2018 Hot Films In the Making.
This past April, Lady Buds was invited to the Sundance Institute / Women In Film Financing Intensive in Los Angeles, one of 25 projects accepted. This special program was designed to tackle barriers women filmmakers face accessing financing and included training, feedback, and valuable connections toward getting our film made.
Lady Buds is proud to have Film Independent, a non-profit arts organization that champions the independent filmmaker, on board as our fiscal sponsor.
In December 2017, Director Chris J. Russo produced and directed an Op-Ed Video for the Washington Post, featuring Lady Buds Chiah Rodriques commenting on how California's proposed cannabis regulations would affect the small farms of Northern California.
The documentary film team.
Our crew is made up of passionate and professional filmmakers!
- Chris J. Russo - Director / Producer / Cinematographer
- Christian Bruno - Cinematographer, Co-Producer
- Michael Katz - Producer
- Stephen Israel - Consulting Producer
- Steak House - Consulting Producer
- Sarah Olson - Consulting Producer
- Sophia Wang - Associate Producer / Assistant Editor
- Alberto Guadarrama - Associate Producer / Assistant Editor
- Meghan McDonald - Associate Producer
What will the funds be used for, and what if we raise more than our goal?
We are needing to raise $50,000 in order to get us through production. This pays for travel costs to film in both Northern and Southern California through the end of the year (gas, food, lodging, sometimes airfare and rental cars, etc.). Filming the harvest this fall in Humboldt and Mendocino are an integral part of the story, and only happen once a year in September and October. The funds will also be used for camera and sound equipment rentals, film crew salaries, hard drives, an assistant editor, and other expenses that always surprise us.
If we reach our goal during the campaign, we also have a stretch goal of $100,000 that not only gets us through production, it pays for some post-production costs that include: an editors salary for 3 months, interview transcription costs, more hard drives to set up the editorial suite, a small budget for archival footage and the hiring of a motion graphics designer.
Can I get a tax-deduction for my contribution?
Donations on Kickstarter are not tax-deductible, and you can't make a donation larger than $10,000. However, you can choose to make a tax-deductible donation through our 501(c)(3) fiscal agent, Film Independent, and it could be larger than $10,000. Please contact email@example.com to find out how.
These Brands Support Lady Buds!
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk and challenge in completing the project is coming up with the money needed that will allow us to finish it. We can not keep the cameras rolling or begin post-production without the funds to pay for the costs of making this film.
Because we are a tiny documentary team, the director must balance filming with fundraising. Unless we are able to raise enough to fund the budget of the film, production will have to stop. The filmmakers are concurrently applying to grants, pitching industry professionals and actively fundraising in order to get this film out to the world as soon as possible, with the goal of a LADY BUDS Premiere at a top-tier film festival in late 2019/early 2020. They aim to secure distribution on a platform that will get the film out to the masses.
The other challenge in making this film is proving to distributors there's an audience for a film made by and about women. Let's prove to Hollywood that women want to see stories of other women by spreading the word! The more backers we can get for the LADY BUDS Kickstarter, the bigger our audience, which means the more likely we are to shoring up a successful distribution deal on a major platform.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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