An Entourage in Manhattan
Adrian Grenier talks about drugs, visiting his alma mater (La Guardia High School), and the environment
By Angela Barbuti
How to Make Money Selling Drugs may seem like an unlikely title for a documentary. Producer Adrian Grenier took on the challenge of making a movie on a topic that is "taboo" in our society. The film, which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, opened in theaters in Manhattan last week. Filled with personal stories about why people turn to selling and using drugs, it features interviews with celebrities like 50 Cent, Russell Simmons, and Eminem. The documentary, which Grenier produced with Bert Marcus, gives faces to the seemingly faceless world of drugs. It educates viewers on the misinformation we are given about the 400-billion dollar industry and exposes the stark realities that people who are involved with drugs must encounter. Besides working to promote this film, the 36-year-old NYC resident is waiting for the script of the Entourage movie, maintaining his sustainable lifestyle website, and welcoming indie bands into his basement.(http://nypress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Celeb.jpg)
You were raised in the city and went to La Guardia High School. Do you ever go back to speak to the students there?
Yeah, I do, actually. I was there two weeks ago. My good friend took a teaching position back at La Guardia so I went with a couple of our friends who all went there. We went back and talked to the kids.
I read that your involvement with How to Make Money Selling Drugs came about because you were at the director's house and saw something he had written down.
Yeah. I'm friends with Matthew [Cooke] for a long time. I saw this card tacked up to his wall. It said, "How to Make Money Selling Drugs." And of course that spiked my interest. [Laughs]
You explain that documentaries don't get the attention they deserve because people think they're a chore to watch.
I think that's the general perception. Although that perception is changing and we're helping with this film, for sure. Documentaries are often dismissed as being boring or tedious and we've certainly disproved that with How to Make Money Selling Drugs. This is a fun summer blockbuster - I'd say even more cinematic than most films out there right now. Big, sweeping helicopter shots. It's very visual, very exciting.
Celebrities like 50 Cent, Russell Simmons, and Emimen are in the film. How did you choose them to participate?
We reached out to people who we thought had an interesting story and a unique point of view, who would be qualified to speak on a certain topic. Certainly 50 Cent has quite a history and experience and the same with all of our subjects.
I don't think people would expect Susan Sarandon to be in your film.
Well she's been very outspoken, particularly against the Rockefeller Drugs Laws, which are so damaging to communities in New York. She does live in New York, so it's close to her heart and affects her. She's not alone. There's a growing collation of people who are outraged about these backwards laws that don't make our community safer, but, in fact, do the opposite.(http://nypress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Celeb-2.jpg)
What were the challenges you faced producing a movie about drugs?
Drugs are a taboo subject. That's because we've had a 40-year drug war that has used violence and intimidation to make people afraid of reasonable and real communication about drugs. It's not an intelligent approach to put all drugs in the same category as being bad. It's just not the truth. And especially when you couple that with militarized tactics - it's just a recipe for disaster.
You believe strongly in giving back to society. Explain your website, SHFT.com.
It's a sustainable lifestyle company. We tell stories of people, businesses, and communities that are doing what they can to become more sustainable. We provide a store of options with products that have a sustainable story.
I see you have wine on your website.
Our wine is all sourced from organic and biodynamic grapes, including the packing, which has been sourced to be as sustainable as possible.
Were you always interested in the environment?
I'm a city guy. I like concrete. [Laughs] But I think it's important to have a connection to the cycle of nature and make sure that we respect it because we want to have it for our own self-preservation. I'm more interested in making sure that the environment is non-polluted and thriving for me and my kids and my kids' kids.
You wrote in the Huffington Post about the recording studio you started in your basement. How can you explain it?
Wreckroom is a music incubator. We support upcoming, independent bands by giving them an opportunity to record in a professional studio and make a video. We support them as best we can until they find a record-label deal or can grow independently and take charge of their own careers.
Many people know you as the lead in Entourage. Did you start working on the movie adaptation yet?
Not yet, but I hear there's a script that's coming my way.
Do people stop you on the street to talk about the show?
I just always get a lot of, "What's up Vince?" A lot of hellos.
Do you still hangout with your Entourage costars?
Yeah, I mean, as much as possible. Although I do live in New York, and they're all in LA. I was just texting with Jerry [Ferrera] about 20 minutes ago.
What are your future plans?
Future? The future's now. The future's here. [Laughs] I'm doing it right now. How to Make Money Selling Drugs has gotten a lot of steam, a lot of momentum. I'm going to be supporting the film, making sure as many people come out and see it.
How To Make Money Selling Drugs opened last week at IFC Center and MIST Cinema.
To learn more about the film, visit http://tribecafilm.com/tribecafilm/filmguide/how-to-make-money-selling
Follow Adrian on Twitter @adriangrenier
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