Investigator! Producer! Victim!
These are all terms that can be truly applied to veteran tabloid television producer/director/writer Wayne Darwen. I had the high honor of working with Wayne on the TV programs,Strange Universe and Extra, where he always exhibited the highest levels of professionalism.
Recently, he embarked on a project to document the recreational marijuana culture in Hawaii. Accompanying him as a cameraman was director Henry Goren.
They flew from Los Angeles to the islands, winding up in the rural town of Pahoa, an ideal site to investigate illegal drugs. Indeed, they arrived at a time when the federal DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) was conducting raids. Because of that coincidental timing, locals initially suspected the pair of being undercover agents.
However, over time, they were able to convince the residents that they were indeed legitimate documentarians and gained entree into the local drug business. Wayne was actually shown where local cannabists grow their own illegal marijuana. And, he met a gentleman with connections to the organized marijuana trade who stressed that local authorities are loath to enforce drug laws.
But, pursuing his investigation, Wayne found himself falling in deeper and deeper with the community of junkies and hippies, participating in drug parties night after night, even one listing 48 hours. He fell to an all-time low, becoming a victim of the very drugs he set out to expose.
However, a documentary was still produced, covering these sordid outcomes, with Wayne adopting the pseudonym "Dave High" while Henry, who filmed the interviews, assumed the moniker of "Roland Joints." The production is appropriately entitled "High There," and will be entered in film festivals, beginning on Monday night, August 25, at a theater in Monrovia,CA.
It has been described as a Hunter S.Thompson-like escapade with some elements of dark, very dark, humor.
Wayne, who made the transmogrification from reporter to drug victim, has reportedly retreated to his native Australia. Hopefully, the film's success will reinvigorate his career.
Ruehl Factoid: With the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado, pot sales for the first six months of 2014 soared to an astounding $202 million, and are continuing to grow, with producers barely able to keep up with the demand. Tourism there is flourishing, as a consequence.
The link to a preview of "High There" is: