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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Producer Parisa Dunn: Motivated by Stories, Inspired by the 'Dream'

by Cyrus Webb

Sometimes when you don’t find the kind of content or stories being told that you want to see you have to create them yourself. That is what individuals like producer Parisa Dunn have been able to do, and for her the result is the upcoming documentary called The Green Dream. In it she is able to tackle the discussion around the war on drugs and the role that race seems to play in it.

Parisa and I met each other this year in Los Angeles. The conversation was all about storytelling and what she wants to convey through projects like the Green Dream.

Parisa, you’ve been able to use the platform of film to tell stories. What has it been like for you to be able to have something that you are passionate about and then being able to share it with us?
I think it's a privilege really. I mean not many people get that chance, but also you have to create that chance. It doesn't just fall in your lap. You have to work for it. You build experience and you build contacts, and then you find something that you really care about and then you try and bring it to everybody else if anyone cares about it, too.

The two of us talked about motivation and you told me about the support of your family. Do you think that is one of the reasons you have had the courage to pursue your dream of filmmaking?
We are influenced by who brings us up and people around us, Like I said my parents are both strong characters with strong wills. They are vocal people. I think you take that as an example and say that's how you can present yourself in the world. And I suppose it gives you courage to know that there are people around as well who will give support when you are taking those steps.

Ultimately, it's you taking the steps and the risk and the challenges. It's like an insatiable fire to do something that's going to help other people. Maybe you do something that then brings public awareness and then helps to shift the dial somehow, or at least start the conversation that people should be having, which is kind of how I feel about my project. It's like the conversation needs to be a bigger conversation among people.

The Green Dream has to do with the Cannabis industry and the effects of its being legalized around the country in the United States. Tell us what made you want to tell this story and explore this topic.
California legalized cannabis in January 2018. I am from London. It is still illegal where I am from, and I was just blown away that it was even legalized in parts of the States. California is a very well-known place on planet Earth, so it's a big deal to legalize what essentially is a high-level illegal federal drug in a state where there is that many people.
That first triggered my brain to go what's going on here.  How is this happening? And then as I looked around for a story that I care about or something that I know would be really compelling, I kept coming up against this conversation because it was only happening in a very small corner that was about essentially people most affected by the decades of the war on drugs in the US.

Minorities were the ones having a really hard time getting involved in the Cannabis industry, even though it has been going for a while in the US, and not only medically but like recreational around 10 years. And those communities were really not involved in the legal side of it, although it's been very criminalized in the illegal side of it for a long time.

So I looked at that and I said look at that picture and then you look at the opposite picture. Why are some able to make a business out of it while lots of people are incarcerated for the exact same plant. I mean it goes back to this one plant. It just quite literally didn't add up. And I kept digging and digging, and I am like this is the only important issue about cannabis, everything else is just a bit of fun and this and that but this is the real thing that is happening with people in their lives.

Is your hope that you can not only address the history of the cannabis industry but be a part of the conversation around it?
Yes. The interesting thing is that since I came up on this issue and started this film, which was actually a year ago, this topic has suddenly become more talked about. There are several Presidential candidates especially on the Democratic side who are taking this issue as one of their core talking points. So suddenly the public is getting to know a little bit about this, and there are certain issues within the legalization and the issue of inequality that is getting attention. 

Look for updates coming soon about The Green Dream.  Conversations will be doing an update when information is available. 

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