WASHINGTON - It has been just over a year since D.C. voters approved Initiative 71, which made it legal to possess and cultivate marijuana with some limitations. Now, it is not particularly surprising someone has decided this would make a great subject for a television show.
What do you get when you mix a woman with a film and media background and a man who has worked for years as a consultant for medical marijuana cultivation centers? One young duo hopes the answer is a smoking hot new fictional comedy series.
Washington D.C. has been the focus of plenty of hit shows, but one local couple said it is high time for a new kind of series -- one focused on D.C.'s marijuana industry.
“There are a lot of TV shows made about D.C., but they aren’t being made about the part of D.C. that most local residents are experiencing and they are not being made by people who live here,” said writer, director and co-creator Amy Tasillo.
Tasillo and Matt Doherty, who are both District residents, are the creators of “East Coast Grow,” a fictional comedic web series now shooting now in the nation's capital.
They have been working on the pilot at the Mess Hall in Northeast D.C. They have turned a commercial kitchen space into a fictional marijuana cultivation center.
“We want to be able to destigmatize cannabis,” said Doherty, the executive producer of the show. “Not only cannabis, but users and also everything behind it.”
The pair cast five main actors for the pilot of their scripted dark comedy.
“I think the interest has been nothing short of amazing,” said Doherty. “Four-hundred people submitted. That really blew my mind.”
They chose five leads -- four of them, including David Johnson and Devin Nikki Thomas, are locals.
“It resonated with me, the subject matter, because I’ve seen a lot of what they are trying to bring to forefront,” said Johnson. “A lot of the injustices that have happened, and just, for lack for a better word, the foolishness around this plant that has everybody in such an uproar.”
“It's very well written,” said Thomas. “There are a lot of funny aspects to it. It’s a lot of darker humor and that’s what I really appreciate because it’s not slapstick or over the top. It’s very subtly written.”
The filmmakers admit there is an advocacy quality to this project.
“I do smoke a lot,” Doherty told us. “It's true.”
But they said they are not doing that on the job. They said this is serious business. They have spent $20,000 of their own money to make this show and they are disappointed one group – D.C’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development -- has declined to take part and won't allow its logo to be included at the end of the show.
“It was a little disheartening,” said Doherty. “It was a bummer. It kind of felt it marginalized us a little bit, but it's okay because we have had other support.”
A spokesperson for Office of Motion Picture and Television Development said they support the filmmakers and their right to film in D.C. But they said as an office, they did not want to be seen as endorsing what is a sensitive and still somewhat controversial subject matter, especially since they have not been able to review the final content.
As for that final content, the creators said they are aiming for a release in early spring around April 20, otherwise known as 4/20.
They are hoping to get picked up by a major distributor. If not, they will put the pilot on their website.