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Director Craig Pryce and Stars Brittany Bristow and Luke Bilyk

TALK MARIJUANA CHRONICLES

BASED ON A TRUE STORY

A PRODUCTION SHOT IN TORONTO

Interview by Caryan Parchment With Director Craig Pryce

and Stars Brittany Bristow and Luke Bilyk

“The Marijuana Chronicles” is based on a true story that took place in 1972 over 98 days. It studies the scientific, social and physical effects of Marijuana use during an all-female group study. Pryce optioned this story from investigative reporter Diana Zlomislic, who acts as story consultant.  


As this a period piece, reconstructing the costumes and the locations for the time to film takes place has been a challenge. There are not a lot of locations left in Toronto from that era, so you have to be imaginative with how you frame shots.

Director Craig Pryce of MARIJUANA CHRONICLES


“The Marijuana Chronicles” features an all Canadian female leading cast!


You have never done a True Story before, so what made you want to take on this project?


I actually read the article about 4 years ago, and then 2 years ago I got really serious about filming it. What made it really interesting is that it is a true story, and a story that many don’t know about. To think that 30 years ago there weren’t any regulations on marijuana and what the girls went through is really compelling.

I also wanted to take on a challenge that I had never done before. As I was a teenager in the mid-70’s I could put myself into the film. Staying faithful to the narrative of the story was the biggest challenge I faced, and finding that balance between the adapted screenplay and the truth.


You went to York University, so what’s it like filming and directing a piece in your hometown of Toronto?


We didn’t shoot at York, however I decided to use the Toronto Star building as it was the most relevant to the film.


How do you think this film relates to the marijuana culture now?


It’s interesting as it’s quite topical. What most don’t realize is that in 1972, there was a real interest in legalizing marijuana that started with Justin Trudeau’s father ironically. There was more paranoia back then about marijuana really was, and that’s why they did the study on these women. Back then if you were caught possessing marijuana you would get 6 years jail time, first offence. If you sold/gave it to another individual you faced life in prison. Therefore, there was really harsh sentencing at the time in 1968. People fought hard for it to be legalized in 1972 so that people wouldn’t go to jail over it.

Not to give away the movie, but we kind of “bookend” it by paralleling what happened in 1972 to what’s happening now. The provincial government was so against legalizing it then, because they thought it would end the economy. What makes the story so interesting is that you get to see the ulterior motives play out in the film, and what the girls had to go through.

Director Craig Pryce of MARIJUANA CHRONICLES


What will your next project be?


I actually plan to spend a lot of time editing, sound mixing, and finalizing this film as this is a passion project for me. I actually passed on other projects to pursue this film. Once this film is done, I’ll focus on what’s next. I plan on going to the Festival circuit first. The latest it will come out for wide release is late this year or latest early next year.

Director Craig Pryce of MARIJUANA CHRONICLES


What Makes The Film Special ?


We have a really exciting young cast, mixed of some new to the acting scene, and some experienced actors. They really bring the story and the characters to life. It’s not just a docu drama, there’s a bit of humor, and even a bit of horror which gives it a very interesting tone. Its also layered plot that takes a lot of twists and turns.


February 26th principal Photography has officially commenced in Toronto for “The Marijuana Chronicles,” written and directed by Craig Pryce  (The Good Witch Franchise, PSI Factor, Goosebumps, HBO’s The Dark, Zack Files, Life with Derek). Pryce received four Directors Guild nominations and two Gemini nominations and directed episodes of “Dark Oracle”, a series that won an International Emmy. This is Pryce's third feature film.  

Director and writer Craig Pryce says, "After discovering Diana’s fascinating research on the bizarre and unethical experiments studying the effects of marijuana on females in Toronto 1972, I knew it would make for a fascinating movie. I'm very excited to tell this true story that focuses on five young women and how they used their unique strengths, resilience and friendship to overcome adversity despite several agendas imposed on them during their days in virtual captivity.”


Craig Pryce

Within two years of graduating from the York University film program, Craig produced and directed the campy cult classic "Revenge, of the Radioactive Reporter" which was picked up for international distribution by MCA/Universal. Craig went on to direct the horror flick, "The Dark" starring Stephen McHattie, Brion James and Neve Campbell which sold to HBO and Polygram Filmed Entertainment.

Craig then began directing several television series including "Psi Factor" for CBS/Eyemark, "Goosebumps" for the Fox Network, "Zack Files" for YTV, and "Life with Derek" for the Disney Channel, which was broadcast in 125 countries. With over sixty episodic credits, Mr. Pryce has received four Director Guild nominations and two Gemini nominations.

Mr. Pryce has recently directed several television movies including the romantic comedies "I Me Wed" and "Double Wedding". He also directed six "The Good Witch" movies, the longest running and highest rated television movie series for Hallmark starring Catherine Bell (Jag, Army Wives) and Chris Potter (Heartland).

Craig recently wrapped the romantic comedy "Fir Crazy" starring Sarah Lancaster (Chuck), as well as seventh installment of "The Good Witch" and has several television projects in development.


By: David Wiechorek


Star Brittany Bristow photos courtesy of Taro PR


How is Filming the Marijuana Chronicles for You?

Filming has been so wonderful and exciting journey.


How does your Character in the Marijuana Chronicles differ from your previous roles?

It’s a very different film, as it’s a period piece and a true story. This story is based on a group of women that were brought together to undergo a medical experiment in 1972 in Toronto, and it follows those women’s ups and downs being stuck in the medical facility and how they will get through this time.

I play a character that is very caring and free-spirited, but has a more maternal instinct as she also watches out for the girls with her in the facility. At the end of the day, all the women are there to actually better their lives and find a way to live the dreams and lives that they want to live.


What is Your Take on the Ladies Being “High” in the Movie?

As part of the experiment, the ladies had to smoke marijuana twice a night, 15 mins a part from one another, and were heavily induced throughout the experimentation process.

The experimentation was interesting to me as part of the story. What actually hit me was not so much the marijuana use it was the connection that these women showed, and the strength that they built through the process. For example, my character has a moment of defiance against men and she speaks her mind and that is what actually drew me to the story and to do the film.

It’s a new found experience for me having to stand up for myself. I have had moments in my life where I had to stand up for what I believe in. However, what was really new to me was the marijuana use. As an actor, I was able to step in and understand the way that individuals would behave under the influence. How I was able to embody the role was through a lot of research. I worked more to discover how the drug use would affect the character that I was playing. So in that sense it wasn’t anymore difficult than the other roles I have played. I’m really proud that I took on this challenge, and got to be a part of this film, and play the role that I played.


Has this movie changed your outlook on marijuana in life life?

I think that the views on marijuana are very different for each individual. I don’t think I know enough to have a particular view. At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for you, and honor on how you feel. Myself in particular only enjoy a glass of wine at the end of day. I am very understanding of people who use it for medical reasons and fully support them using it to aid in their wellness and recovery. In that sense it’s worth exploring to medical benefits behind it.


What’s the 70’s Fashion Costuming Like?

I’m a huge fan of 70’s fashion. So I walked into my fitting my two of my own pairs of bell bottoms. The giant blouses, and full length dresses, and a pair of bell bottoms covered in butterflies that I get to wear are all so amazing to me. And don’t even get me started on the fringe, there is just so much fringe! I love it so much. We have all enjoyed our costumes so much that we wanted to take them home with us, as most of the wardrobe was actually from the 70’s.


What is Your Favorite Part of Marijuana Chronicles?

Working with the girls in the group. The 5 of us have really bonded over the course of this film. The day we wrapped we are all really sad that it wrapped and are always looking for ways to come together and spend time with one another.


What does it feel like coming back to Toronto to film?

It was really cool, as it’s been while since I’ve had the opportunity to film in Toronto. I’ve really enjoyed being here and picture my city in a different light. For example, we filmed in front of the Toronto Star Building, and there are people walking around with afros and bell bottoms, not like Toronto today… it really takes you back in time in your own city.


What is the #1 Reason People Should See the Marijuana Chronicles?

This is a brilliant film for a lot of reasons. It is a Canadian Story and it has 5 female leads that are Canadian. That alone should take people to the movie.

This movie is also in line with all the social experiments that are slowly being unveiled that were happening in the 1970’s. It’s just baffling that all of these things were happened, and this happened in plain sight is shocking because no one really knew what was going on at the time.


Did You Get to Meet the Real-Life Jane?

The Director based all of the characters around these women who experienced it, and to protect their anonymity the characters names were different. However, in a way yes, I did get to meet the real Jane, as the women came to visit us on set, and we got to hear their stories first-hand of what truly happened as they are excited that their story is being told. I’m not anyone in particular; I am a culmination of the women and their stories.


“The Marijuana Chronicles” features an all Canadian female leading cast including Julia Stone (Weirdos, Wet Bum, The Killing, Everything will be Fine), Morgan Kohan (Ransom, Star Trek Discovery, Kim's Convenience), Tymika Tafari (Murdoch Mysteries), Brittany Bristow (Royal Matchmaker, Wildlife Quest, Shadowtown), and Kyla Young (Alias Grace). Luke Bilyk (Degrassi, Kiss & Cry) and Greg Calderone (Heroes Reborn, Saving Hope) will also play in the film.

Luke Bilyk at Hellions premiere, photo by Araya Diaz - © 2015 Araya Diaz


Interview with Luke Bilyk by Caryan Parchment



What is the #1 Reason People Should See the Marijuana Chronicles?

It’s a lot of fun, a journey, and a bit of a history lesson to show what the rules were in Toronto, and in

Canada itself at the time. It’s always a great thing to learn more about the country that you live in.

The laws have changed this past year, with marijuana being legalized. Therefore, in a way, it’s like

Toronto coming full circle in the story behind marijuana being legalized.


Luke the Marijuana Chronicles, How has it been so far?

It has been absolutely brilliant, and exactly what I expected after reading the script, and checking out the Director. I actually have worked previously with several of the actors. Everyone is putting forward their 100% from the costumes, to the team, I think its going to be a great project.


How does your Character in the Marijuana Chronicles differ from your previous roles?

Well for one, I’m not turning into a Giant Panther (Lost Girl), and Mark was a byproduct with his life practically laid out for him before he was born. In the Marijuana Chronicles, Adam is really choosing the path that he wants his life to follow, and looking to make his mark in the world that can really impact and help society.


As you work with Free the Children, were there any parts of you that you took into your character Adam?

One of the things I experience with Free the Children is empathy, and I think that Adam too has a lot of empathy for what’s going on in the compound with Project Venus. With watching what all the women went through during those 90 days really triggered the empathy in Adam.


Do you have any favorite parts or moments of Marijuana Chronicles so far?

One of my favorite parts of the script is that there are 5-6 women and that you get to follow their journey through the film, and experience what they went through from their vantage point. It’s a really interesting aspect, and I think that a lot of people will resonate with that and not just one character to draw from.

I loved doing the group scenes, and watch all the women be high as it’s really funny. We filmed one scene where the girls were really stoned and I had to control myself from laughing in the background, cause I wasn’t supposed to be.

My Co-Star Morgan who plays Marissa has been a pleasure to work with. As well as the whole cast has been a pleasure to work with, because everyone is bringing their A-Game. Coming to set has been a joy for me each and every day.


What does it feel like coming back to Toronto to film?

I love it. One of my favorite parts about coming back is that you get to work with people that I’ve worked with before. I worked with Brittany Bristol (Kiss and Cry), and it’s always great to reconnect with someone that you’ve worked with before.


The major thing I missed was the crew. You don’t get to see the same people all the time when you work on projects in Vancouver or LA. In Toronto, for example, I got to work with people that I worked with for six years on Degrassi, and it was like a homecoming and in a way working with your family.


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Interview by

Caryn Parchment | Fashion Blogger & CEO

Fashionable Foodie Toronto / I'm Here With www.fashionablefoodietoronto.wordpress.com

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