I want people to see Bernie’s story and what he went through, how he was able to reinvent himself as a blueberry farmer, and show that you can go on no matter what life throws at you.
Bernie’s connection to the land is a huge part of this story. Without a clear understanding of the importance of that in his life, the understanding of the threat of its loss might have been missed. It is intertwined with who he is. It is a living being in itself. Today it is (and has been) the backdrop for the past 50 years of his life.
Many people have come forward to support Bernie over the years and in the making of this movie. It is clear he has touched many people.
I have been very fortunate in this endeavor to have a very strong team. Everyone involved has so much talent and focus.
Liz Ficalora has been a friend for many years. We met when I was performing and I needed a drummer in my band. When I first had the idea for this film, it was Liz that I went to. She is my creative sounding board and she immediately said, “Let’s do this!” We high five’d each other and never looked back.
Liz introduced me to Mike Green. He not only took on this project but became a solid part of the team, sharing the vision and putting his own unique touch on the footage.
Jill Sissel is a prolific songwriter and her song The Tennessee Farmer tells Bernie’s story in her own way, truly memorable. I teared up when I first heard it. She performed it live with Liz Ficalora at a fundraising event for the film and Bernie teared up too.
Alexia Anastasio and her savvy marketing skills and previous successful Kickstarter campaigns helped us raise the funds needed to produce this film. It was fun. It was nerve-racking. It was wild and crazy but it worked! I am thankful to her and to all our supporters who opened their wallets and checkbooks to say yes to this film. I am honored and humbled to see so many people investing in me to see this project through to its completion.
Angie Schleicher's graphics for the campaign were great and I loved looking in my email every morning to see what she had come up with for all the social media posts.
I hope we honor Bernie by telling his story in a true and entertaining way. Bernie Ellis was referred in the local press as “everyone’s favorite felon.” It is my hope that by telling his story, it inspires viewers to speak out in support of legislation to legalize cannabis and end prohibition of a plant in the natural world.