Legalization: a controversy
Assistant Managing Editor
For one group of Communication students, the question of the summer was “To Be or Not to Be?”
The students enrolled in the “Producing the Documentary” summer course asked this question about marijuana legalization in Oklahoma in their film “To Be or Not To Be: Marijuana in Oklahoma,” which premiered at 7 p.m. on July 22 in the Cameron Theatre.
Dr. Matt Jenkins, Professor of Communication and Executive Producer for the film, said that the theatre was filled to capacity with a number of people from both sides of the issue.
“For me,” Jenkins said, “one of the greatest things was it got people in the same room that probably wouldn’t even look at each other on the street because they were so polar opposites on the subject.
“To have them sit in the same room and listen to each other was a huge accomplishment for the students in this class.”
Producer Komantcia Jones, a Communication major, expressed her elation for the night, saying that the feeling of senators and other important people in attendance congratulating them all was “so surreal.”
But the best feeling for her came right before the movie filmed; Jenkins disappeared unexpectedly, leaving Jones flustered until he made a pre-show announcement with Anthony Foreman of the Trail Dance Film Festival, who presented the class with a submission fee waiver.
“It was a total surprise to all of us,” Jones said. “None of us knew. It was a great feeling. It’s cool to hear everyone say, ‘Good job.’ But to get a submission fee waiver from Anthony Foreman—that was a good feeling.”
For Director and Communication major Adrian Alexander, the best part of the night was the chance to finally bear witness to the product he and his colleagues made.
“Just to see it on screen and the feeling of either people watching the work – that was definitely the best,” he said.
For Alexander, Jones and the rest of the class, there was a lot of work that went into the making of the movie. Though the premiere was successful, there were still roadblocks along the way.
“You’re going to have people that don’t return your phone calls or don’t answer your phone calls when trying to set up interviews once they found out the topic,” Jones said. “But, as we went through, we noticed some people were much more receptive than what we were expecting them to be.”
Even with these obstacles and more under their belt, Alexander said there were many lessons learned in the process of making this documentary.
“Everyone has to do their assignment correctly, and people need to know that moving into the next project,” he said. “This is real hands-on experience – more so than anything I’ve done at Cameron.”
Both Alexander and Jones said that this experience left them prepared and eager to do more moviemaking in the future.
“I’ve had so much fun doing this,” Jones said. “All the stress of every single day, waking up and dealing with it – I would do it for the rest of my life to be able to go to premieres like that.”
For now, the crew’s next step involves polishing the film and submitting it to festivals.
“Now that the premiere is over, it’s crunch time,” Jones said. “What’s next will be entering and applications. That’s going to be really nerve-wracking. But we’ll do what we can.”
“Our documentary is like a gem in the dirt right now,” Alexander said. “Once we get it polished and take all the dust off it, people will be able to see it and it will shine the way it’s supposed to shine.”
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