Local Lists: Mitch Dickman


Mitch Dickman of Listen Productions

It was New Year’s Day 2014 and it was like no other. OK, maybe it was. There were still people doing the walk of shame, realizing how much they had actually paid for that Uber, and/or desperately trying to figure out how they ended up with only one shoe.

But that year, there was also a palatable buzz happening throughout the city. Throngs of people were wide awake and enduring severely long lines to be the first in the country to buy legal weed from a dispensary…and Colorado hasn’t been the same since.

A new documentary, Rolling Papers, highlights how The Denver Post was at the forefront of pot journalism, with the country’s first-ever “pot section”, offering the latest and greatest on policy news, strain reviews, parenting advice, and edible recipes. In a ballsy effort to resurrect a dying medium, this film follows the effects of legalization and the stories it inspires.

This locally produced film opens this weekend at the Sie FilmCenter and Boulder Theater, with exclusive Q&As from The Cannabist’s Ricardo Baca, Brittany Driver and Ry Prichard, as well as Director/Producer, Mitch Dickman. Mitch is the founder of Listen Productions and has directed Being Evel, Hanna Ranch, and DNC Mediamockracy, along with several other projects. Continue reading to learn more about Mitch’s Colorado roots, his very topical documentary, and what’s next for this local filmmaker.

Name: Mitch Dickman

Occupation: Producer/Director

A little about yourself: Tough question. I’m really a family guy. Married for 12 years to my beautiful wife, Karen Slack, and we have a 5-year-old girl and live in Northwest Denver.

When did you realize you wanted to make movies for a living? I got in this through the idea of trying to make a positive impact somehow. Originally it was journalism…then creative writing and photography…then film.

How did you get started in the movie industry? In finding my way during college at CU. I was pouring concrete one day, decided I couldn’t keep doing that, made a bunch of resumes, got the phonebook out, and one person took a chance on me helping with his movie…that was over 13 years ago.

Why have you chosen to remain in Colorado instead of relocating to a city like LA or New York? I really like New York, but couldn’t live there. There is more to life than work and I’m proud to be from Colorado and proud of our artistic community.

What has been your most memorable filmmaking moment thus far? Premiering Hanna Ranch at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and the response from the Frost/Hanna family.

Who inspires you in the filmmaking world? Sounds cheesy, but my colleagues.

Tell me a little bit about Rolling Papers; how did it get started? A few producers were exploring the subject of marijuana. Then when Ricardo [Baca] got appointed to the position of marijuana editor, a couple of them reached out to us to see if we could develop it as a feature…that was like Christmas and we started shooting January 1.

What surprised you most when making this film? From the marijuana side, the richness of the culture and the issue of THC-levels for edibles. From the newspaper side, the fact that it’s a struggling industry, but most, or if not all of them, are still going day in and day out and continuing to provide good journalism to our community.

If you could describe Denver like any strain of weed, what would it be? Bubblegum.

What would you say to people who think Colorado is just full of stoners? It’s like saying the other 49 states are a bunch of alcoholics.

Any ideas on your next project? Yeah, almost too many to count, but trying to focus on one at a time. Currently co-producing a project shooting here with a director from Australia and a producer from New York. A TV series called Hoods in the Woods, two education documentaries, a feature based on Walden, a bigfoot movie called Hoax, and the White Rose. Oh, and then I quit.

Fair enough. Catch a sneak peek of Rolling Papers tonight at the Sie FilmCenter with Mitch, Brittany Driver, and Ricardo Baca in-person, or this weekend with screenings that also include special guests and Q&As. Go Denver!

Written by Monica Arevalo, Dear Denver guest contributor. Monica is a Phoenix native but has called Denver home for the past four years. When Monica isn’t at home watching Netflix or reading a book, she’s at a concert losing her voice and dodging elbows to get to the front of the stage.