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Documentary Production and Distribution News

"How To Make Money Selling Drugs" Hits Theaters Nationwide, Captures National Acclaim For Filmmaker Matthew Cooke

posted Jul 11, 2013, 11:58

“The biggest movie of the summer isn't Man of Steel, or The Lone Ranger, or Fast & Furious 6. It's a new documentary called How to Make Money Selling Drugs.” That’s Huffington Post editor-in-chief, Arianna Huffington’s reaction to the newest documentary from filmmaker Matthew Cooke.

Released in theaters nationwide on June 26th, How to Make Money Selling Drugs is a provocative expose on the decades-long U.S. war on drugs and its negative effects from an economic, socioeconomic, political and racial standpoint. In his signature style – Cooke gives us unprecedented access inside the drug trade from the dealer’s perspective, literally following them on day-to-day operations. The film features a candid perspective from infamous drug kingpin “Freeway” Rick Ross. To gain a real life perspective from the enforcement side and to provide a tangible experience for his viewers, Cooke spent days crammed in the back of a DEA van searching the eastern seaboard for 200 kilos of cocaine. That is the authentic journey he takes audiences on.

On the heels of an enormously successful festival run, Robert De Niro’s TriBeCa Film acquired theatrical rights to the documentary. It was so impactful that it nabbed the Audience Award at Paris’ Champs-Élysées Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival and is officially the number one downloaded documentary feature on iTunes.

Cooke, who gained fame for his 2006 Oscar-nominated documentary Deliver Us from Evil, served as writer and director with actor Adrian Grenier in the producer chair. He spent ten years producing Drugs; taking it from a “Cliff Notes” treatment to one of the most-talked about documentaries on the circuit, featuring interviews with Susan Sarandon, Eminem, Woody Harrelson, 50 Cent and more. If you ask Cooke, he’ll tell you Drugs was truly a passion project for him and a labor of love– taking the lead or playing a hand in every aspect of production. In addition to writing and directing the film, he also narrated it, was the cinematographer, editor, and designed the bulk of the motion graphics and sound effects. He even hand painted the interview backdrops and snuck some original compositions into the score.

His goal -- challenge audiences to rethink the mainstream criminalization view of the drug war. “The reality is that the war on drugs prosecutes minorities and people of color at much higher rates than whites. And it’s also classist. It affects poor people…and they’re the ones that we are holding the hammer of justice over,” said Cooke during a recent interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

It is this mind frame and passion for social justice that not only shines through in How to Make Money Selling Drugs but is also the inspiration for Cooke’s new production company, Saturday Entertainment, launched with Emmy Award-winning producer Steve DeVore and business expert Nick James. Saturday Entertainment has much-anticipated projects in the works that illuminate important issues through a critical but deeply realistic lens. “Saturday Entertainment will produce more than just your typical, topical-based documentaries. Our goal is to start a conversation, provide a platform for important subject matter and inspire a different thought process. Oftentimes topics are only as deep as they are presented in the press. We want to make sure we are absorbing these subjects from all angles and getting the real story,” says Cooke.

"He’s very passionate about the topics and he’s extremely educated, but more importantly he had such an entertaining vision for how to tell the story. As important as documentaries may be you still need to get the audiences in the seats." said Adrian Grenier about Cooke to Inquistr. Grenier’s Reckless Productions helped produce Drugs.

Praise for Cooke is pouring in. “The reason the film truly feels like a blockbuster is that you can’t leave the theater without being shocked and outraged by what you’ve seen,” said Huffington in her article on How to Make Money Selling Drugs. That’s a testament to Cooke and exactly his intention for Saturday Entertainment. “I want to offer a raw examination of issues Americans face today. They can then form their opinion. That’s not our job. But providing them a compelling way to experience the truth is.”



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