HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS is a documentary featuring comedic tripping stories from A-list actors, comedians, and musicians. Star-studded reenactments and trippy animations bring their surreal hallucinations to life. Mixing comedy with a thorough investigation of psychedelics. HAVE A GOOD TRIP explores the pros, cons, science, history, future, pop cultural impact, and cosmic possibilities of hallucinogens.
The film tackles the big questions: Can psychedelics have a powerful role in treating depression, addiction, and helping us confront our own mortality? Are we all made of the same stuff? Is love really all we need? Can trees talk? Cast members include Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Sarah Silverman, Ad-Rock, Rosie Perez, A$AP Rocky, Paul Scheer, Nick Kroll, and Rob Corddry to name a few. Written and directed by Donick Cary. Produced by Mike Rosenstein, Sunset Rose Pictures, and Sugarshack 2000.
The film was originally planned for a premiere at the SXSW film festival, but unfortunately when the event was canceled so was the big premiere launch. The documentary will be available on Netflix.
Green Market Report was able to speak with director Donick Cary about the movie recently and this is that interview:
Green Market Report Editor Debra Borchardt:
What prompted you to have the idea to do this movie?
It’s really interesting, or at least it’s really interesting for me, obviously, I started this 11 years ago out of sort of this idea that big celebrities sharing what at the time was a really taboo subject, that you’d only have at lunch or something. I was with Ben Stiller and Fisher Stevens and people were sharing psychedelic stories and I was like, “Oh, what a cool thing. Maybe there’s a version of that movie The Aristocrats, where we just get a whole bunch of people to share stories. And for the viewer that would be like having this extended lunch where you just go around the table and let a hundred people tell us what they learned.” You know I come from a comedy producing and writing background and in general, those stories have some funny elements and I thought like, “oh what a funny taboo place for us to get the stories and then I could animate them or do reenactments and that would be a great thing.”
Now what happened was over those 11 years it took to make this thing and pull out those stories, two things happened. One, the conversation in the world changed, things like Michael Pollan’s book, testing and different reports coming out and more conferences and groups starting up to talk about real, actual beneficial benefits and science that was going on in this day. But also the stories as I was putting them together started to tell a different story than just these are all funny. I started to have a huge variety of experiences. Some of the people were saying like, “this is not good for my brain. I’ll never do it again.” And some of them saying, “Psychedelics helped me organize everything in my life. Keep my ego in check. Be a better human. Be in touch with a spiritual side I didn’t know I had. Not be afraid of death.”
These were sort of like anecdotal things that were just coming out from a very interesting variety of people. And often the most unexpected person would say the thing that you’re like, “oh wow, that changed your trajectory in life” or whatever. But those things sort of came to a head as we were in the edit room is the conversation changed in the world and we realized we actually have this bigger story to tell from real people and real stories.
I could tell there was, I guess, some kind of time warp on there because when I saw Carrie Fisher. Which kind of made it really special to see her sitting there and of course she’s so honest and generous with what she’s sharing and so self-effacing. It was just lovely to see her as a part of that.
Yeah, both she and Anthony Bourdain have passed. But we also interviewed Tommy Ramone before he passed away and it was like this other very sweet story about 1970s punk rock New York and these punkers at CBGBs but also LSD and like how it was in all these different communities was such an interesting thing.
I would say about Carrie, and Anthony too to some extent, but all the interviews are the people who agreed to be in this were really like, whether they knew it or not, we’re kind of opening their brains for an interview. And these interviews are so intimate that way. And then you have another level of Carrie brought us into her home and was like, “Look, I’m an open book. Just look around. This is how I see the world. And psychedelics were a big part of that.” It was very intimate, close setting wise but also just from their heart and from their brain. And that Carrie interview was a really big version of that, an example of that.
And was it difficult to convince people? I mean, as you said, the narrative around psychedelics has changed so much with decriminalization and such, but I’m sure going back a couple of years or so, was it difficult to get people to agree to this because there is still some stigma there?
Yeah. In general, people who have an overall deal at Disney or whatever were like, “Nope, can’t. Nope. Not going to give a story.” But there are a lot of people too who are like raising kids and just don’t want to talk about drugs or maybe got addicted to some other drug and were like, “I just don’t want to talk about drugs at all. Just because it’s not my thing. I don’t want to be the face of anything.”
So it was a little bit of like, I would say, we asked everybody we could get close to, and I have very funny and famous people who I know have great stories but we’re like, “Nah. Nah, I can’t do that.” So we just put the word out. This was meant to be fun and interesting and come from a place of not a document interview at all.
Yeah, non-judgemental. It was whoever said yes, I was like, “great, let’s talk and see where it leads.” Even Susan Sarandon was really interested in doing this and I got on the phone with her two or three times, talked through her story. She knew Timothy Leary. She had really interesting things, but she just wasn’t sure they were good for a movie. We tried and tried and it just didn’t quite happen.
I felt like there is an important distinction to make with these drugs. They’re there in general, science has shown us they’re not addictive, that alcohol causes way more death and destruction than psychedelics. And it’s part of this thing that I’ve been saying like I’m not an advocate that everyone should do these drugs or that they should be out everywhere and just legalize, I hate the word willy-nilly, but willy-nilly. But that I’m an advocate for a rational conversation about these. That there’s a powerful tool there that we have, in a time where humanity is looking for fixes for mental health and connection to each other and the planet, that these might provide some help in those areas that we’re really lacking in. And we should have a rational conversation about that.
Who do you see as your audience for this movie?
I always felt like the low hanging fruit was first the stoner community. We were like, “let’s just get stoner comedy. That’s great. That’s no problem.” You know people who go to Burning Man and an Electric Daisy Carnival should love this.
But I think there’s a bigger conversation here where there’s a little bit of the New Yorker community that loved Michael Pollan’s book should also find an in here and enjoy it because it brings up some big ideas. But also, like I always think of my father-in-law, who lives in the Atlanta suburbs and stuff, and he’s going to love this. There are people in that he loves, like Sting, who he’s going to go like, “whoa, Sting.” And he’ll be skeptical about a lot of it, but I think he’ll enjoy the ride and it’ll bring up some topics that are worth talking about for him or thinking about with him.
I thought what was interesting about the movie was seeing, like you said, that you had different viewpoints because you had like a Ben Stiller saying, “I was one and done. Like this is not meant for me.” And A$AP Rocky was also very like, “I do not think this is for everyone.” And so you definitely have a little bit of everything. And to the people that were very intimate like, “this really changed my life and this really made a difference.” And then you had the other people that were just kind of like, “yeah, this was a good party.”
Right. Right. And I think we tried to put in all viewpoints and just make sure, too, these are the interviewee’s opinion and try to give people… This is almost like a guide book. Read it, do what you need to do with it. Take the information you need from it. If you’re more of Sting kind of person, maybe some of his stuff makes more sense to you. If you’re more of a Ben Stiller kind of person… These are tolerable drugs that can be dangerous when used in the wrong setting and situation. So like Carrie Fisher said, “they’re not to be used cavalierly. They might not be for you. You have to know yourself.”
Two things that tied it for me was like, I’m not a religious person, but I feel like religion is a powerful drug. You should understand it and then figure out if it’s something you need. That the personal choice. This is very similar to these, but they’re not for everybody. And the other thing that really guided me was my kids are both in the movie because they were around while we were shooting it. And I was like, “Otis, will you put on a white top hat and do this?”
That was a funny thing. This little kid in the white suit.” And then it kind of, as the movie goes along, it’s like, “oh yeah, now that works.”
Right. I do think that there are little nods like that come from the psychedelic or cosmic thinking, which is this thing of like, “yeah, you have little guys that pop up in different places that you weren’t expecting.” So that was kind of the goal there, was let’s have sort of a little somebody who’s got some extra advice and is like almost sitting on your shoulder and reminding you this or that. But it could be a little bit of a prankster, who knows?
But that was the other thing, it’s like, well my kids are in it. I love. Like we were doing this in a fun way and wanted to involve them because they were having fun and a part of it. But also they were growing up as I was editing and making this and I really want them to have tools to make informed decisions. Like I would not tell you that then they should be doing psychedelics, obviously. And I think all of that information is in this movie, it is like people are saying like, “wait, know yourself, it’s not for kids. There’s so much to do before you just ingest stuff.”
It looked like you were planning on premiering this at South by Southwest?
I go to the Nantucket Film Festival every year and Janet Pearson who did a lot of the booking for South by, comes there two or three years ago, I met her on Nantucket and was telling her about this and she was like, “oh my God, like can we get it at South by? It would be so fun to bring it there.” I was like, “oh my God, yes. Please.” And that was sort of like this three year plan that was finally coming into the place and we have so much talent in the movie, including the rock band, Yo La Tengo did the soundtrack for it and they were going to come to South by and do a show for us. Comedians like Reggie Watts were up for intro-ing it, doing comedy, and we were like we were finally going to be the big be in party tent experience that we’ve always dreamed of, alas-
Yeah, so we’re on Netflix, it’ll debut May 11th, coming up in a little while. I think May 1st we’re going to release some assets. I’m getting way too technical, but like a trailer and some bits from the film, so can start to get a sense. And then May 11th, it will be on Netflix and hopefully, as we come out of lockdown, at some point we can maybe travel with a little bit and put together some comedians and music and even some of our scientists and stuff and go out and talk about… Keep the conversation going.