THE SUNSHINE MAKERS (2016, doc)


sunshine-makers Greetings again from the darkness. “Turn on. Tune in. Drop out.” For those of us born a bit too late to subscribe to Dr. Timothy Leary’s call to action in the 1960’s, our knowledge of the psychedelic era’s drug culture is limited to what we’ve read, what we’ve been told and the alarming cautions blasted over the PA system in the Woodstock movie. Director Cosmo Feilding Mellen and writer Connie Littlefield tell the fascinating story of two of the biggest drug dealers you’ve never heard of, and the story will have you believing they could have been the inspiration behind TV’s “Breaking Bad”.

You would be hard-pressed to find two less similar business partners than Nicholas Sand and Tim Scully. Mr. Sand is the type who embraced the free-love and free-your-mind approach of the 60’s, and we are subjected to his preference for nude yoga … something that bothers us much more than him. Mr. Scully was a science genius with a touch of Asperger’s. What the two agreed on was their mission of using LSD to create a more peaceful and loving society. They considered themselves “American Patriots”.

The two drug dealers receive kid glove treatment from the filmmaker, and along with some video clips of the era, at times it feels a bit like “we’re getting the band back together”. There is a steady stream of those who were part of the operation, which was based at Billy Hitchcock’s New York estate. Watching these 70-somethings reunite and discuss the good old days has a surreal feel at times, but what’s clear is that they all have fond memories of each other.

Avoiding the authorities was obviously a key for these folks, and director Mellen even interviews the two agents who devoted the most time to tracking down Sand and Scully. We learn that the Brotherhood of Eternal Love (aka “the hippie mafia”) was key to the distribution channel, and that the “Orange Sunshine” even made it to the soldiers on the frontline in Vietnam.

The interesting story doesn’t end when Sand and Scully are arrested and inexplicably end up as cell mates at McNeil Island Penitentiary in Washington. Scully researches a loophole that allows the two to be released on bail. This leads to Sand becoming a 20 year fugitive from the law in Canada, while Scully ends up serving his sentence. Catching up with the two men fifty years after their first meeting still makes us wonder how they worked together so long … and it leads to Sand explaining they were LSD evangelists, and did “a better job than Jesus”. Now back to more nude yoga.

watch the trailer:

 

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