Halloween has recently passed and director Justin Kreutzmann has just trick-or-treated with his children. It’s the kind of father/kid bonding time that most children long for and enjoy. In the case of Kreutzmann, he’s simply passing along the gift of showing up as a father to his kids in the way his father provided fatherhood to him: By having fun.
When we connect by phone, the Long Strange Trip producer is ecstatic at the release of his latest film, Let There Be Drums!, which explores the history of drummers in famous bands and the drummers’ relationships with their children.
Over the course of our conversation, Kreutzmann dives into the origins of his filmmaking aspirations, the influence of the Grateful Dead lifestyle on pursuing his passions, the art of storytelling, and his firsthand look at the normalization of cannabis culture within the 70s Deadhead psychedelic movement.
High Times: Coming from such a prolific music family, how did filmmaking become your path?
Justin Kreutzmann: It became my path the minute I watched Apocalypse Now.
If you’ve seen the film, Mickey Hart tells the story of Francis Ford Coppola coming to Winterland and being blown away by the drum section. Coppola was in the middle of putting together Apocalypse Now and figuring out the score, and as anyone who has seen the film knows, it was a massive undertaking. So Coppola was really inspired by the drums and asked Mickey if he and dad [BIll Kreutzmann] could contribute to the percussion. Of course I was seven at the time and didn’t know any of this—I just knew we were going to Mickey Hart’s studio in Nevada and we were going to watch this movie.
We sit down and it’s the Grateful Dead and all of …
Author: Stephen Laddin / High Times