These Pot-Smoking Filmmakers Are Now Getting High on HBO

Table of contents

The husband-wife filmmakers behind the new HBO series hardly fit the sterotype of the buttoned-down, driven entrepreneur. For starters, they’re kind of laid back about their creative process. And then there’s the fact that they openly A lot of weed.

Related: 

But, regardless of that lifestyle choice, Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld have still pulled off an impressive feat: the creation of a successful cable TV series about a pot dealer in Brooklyn. Theirs was an entrepreneurial coup, considering that back in 2012, the couple started out posting “no-budget” web videos they made with their friends.

Those first, free episodes aired on the video-sharing site Vimeo before attracting micro-funding funding from the site in 2014. Then, the big time: an invite from HBO.

What High Maintenance also attracted en route was considerable buzz (not the drug kind), making its pre-HBO 19 episodes a hit (again, not the drug kind). Last year, the premium cable giant ordered six longer, more luxuriously filmed episodes, which debuted Sept. 16.

What’s important here is that High Maintenance isn’t so much about drugs — the main character, the dealer, known only as The Guy, is played by Sinclair — as it is about New York’s wacky, eccentric, sometimes mean, sometimes pathetic, denizens. In last week’s debut episode, The Guy delivers to a Vin Diesel wannabe who terrifies him with a samurai sword and refuses to pay, except in pennies. The Guy, feeling threatened, beats a hasty retreat. “Vin Diesel” and his silent, scary partner then reveal themselves to be harmless British method actors trying out new roles.

During a Q&A session Monday at the , Sinclair and Blichfeld described their affinity for trying out just such interesting characters. “We’ve only scratched the surface,” Sinclair told about 70 hopeful young filmmakers. “There’s an infinite number of stories out there and character types. … We feel we’ve hit the jackpot with this concept.”

Blichfeld agreed. “The city is so full of inspiration,” she said. “Just go to T.J. Maxx and stand in the home goods section! You begin to realize, ‘Every person I’m looking at has a story!’ Every f—ing person!'”

Related: 

Not that growth isn’t on the horizon. The couple spoke of bringing in creative collaborators to “get some other points of view” and to ease the burden of the many creative decisions they have to make, as they shoot scenes on the streets of Brooklyn, weave 11 stories across their six HBO episodes and create recurring characters, sometimes with big-name actors (Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens; Orange Is The New Black‘s Yael Stone; Bird Man‘s Amy Ryan). 

Blichfeld, an Emmy Award-winning former casting director for TV’s 30 Rock, and Sinclair, a film editor and self-described “pathetic” bit-part actor, are also talking to creatives outside the United States about licensing and launching High Maintenance series overseas. But there’ll be no such licensing here at home, Sinclair assured the audience. “We’re not going to set up a High Maintenance-Seattle,” he said, “it’s not like the Hard Rock Cafe.” Big laugh.

Another decision the filmmakers have held firmly to is — given the freedom HBO’s money offers — is to not lose the qualities that drew people to the show in the first place. “We realized we couldn’t leave the intimacy because that’s what people were responding to, the small quiet moments,” Sinclair said. HBO proved a big help in that regard. “The ground rules were extraordinariy favorable for us,” Sinclair said of their negotiations. “They were like, ‘Just keep doing it the way you were doing it.'” 

To a large extent, the High Maintenance set under HBO’s aegis has also remained the same, the couple said: a de-emphasis on star perks, the use of people’s real apartments as sets (“It’s a real pain in the ass to get everyone in there,” Sinclair quipped), the casting of people the filmmakers find interesting — and no pot on set (). “We try to find a place where we can plug them in because we want to hang out with them,” Blichfeld said. 

What’s different from the Vimeo days is that the crew is much bigger — and unionized, with strict rules. The filmmakers can’t just pop into a local cafe to film spontaneously, as they once did. “Everything is planned out, a lot more controlled,” Sinclair said. 

Again, comparing “then” with “now,” he and Blichfeld offered several comments relevant to young filmmakers and other startup entrepreneurs:

Even successful people have failed.

“We have a bunch of failed entrepreneurial projects,” Blichfeld cheerfully acknowledged. They’re on the web for all to see, she said, adding: “You have to try and fail a bunch of times.” 

Remember who has done you favors.

In the early days, friends of Sinclair and Blichfeld were their crew, their go-fers, their editors. Recently, using their HBO nest egg, Sinclair says, “We’ve actually gone back and paid everybody for their services on the web series … I was so glad to do that.”

Keep only the work you like.

“I think liking your own stuff is very important,” Blichfeld said. “A lot of people are so excited that they made something, they forget to ask whether they like it or not.”

In her and Sinclair’s case, “We weren’t trying to get something specific: a script deal! I don’t think we even fancied ourselves writers, or feel the urgency some people feel.” That lack of urgency and stress, she said, is what fueled the creativity on High Maintenance. 

Do other things.

“Do other things that you find useful as well [as your entrepreneurial work],” Blichfeld counseled. “That thing that you’re making on the weekend with your friends may never amount to anything. It may just be ‘that cool thing’ you did. And you have to be cool with that.” 

If possible, have a trial run with your business/product.

“Working with Vimeo on six episodes [that Vimeo paid for, vs. the couple’s earlier free web videos] was invaluable,” Sinclair said. “Where else do you get that, except with minor league baseball?” Their trial run also assured HBO trust that the couple knew what they were doing.

Related: 

Finally, there was the inevitable question Sinclair said they get all the time: What happens to High Maintenance when marijuana legalization becomes widespread? And here Sinclair was as laid-back as apparently he and Blichfeld have always been: “We’re not going to worry about it because it’s such a slow-going process,” he explained. “Additionally, there are people who don’t want to be on the books as ‘a weed consumer,’ so there will still be black market.”

As to what the couple are personally going to do should legalization arrive in New York: “First,” Sinclair said jokingly, “we’re going to buy some weed.”

Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
$0.00
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with MyStudyWriters
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
Testimonials
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
BUSINESS LAW
excellent job made a 93
Customer 452773, March 22nd, 2023
English 101
great summery in terms of the time given. it lacks a bit of clarity but otherwise perfect.
Customer 452747, June 9th, 2021
Business and administrative studies
excellent job!
Customer 452773, May 25th, 2023
Human Resources Management (HRM)
excellent, great job
Customer 452773, June 19th, 2023
fin571
EXCELLEN T
Customer 452773, March 21st, 2024
FIN571
excellent work
Customer 452773, March 1st, 2024
LEADERSHIP
excellent job
Customer 452773, August 12th, 2023
Leadership Studies
excellent job
Customer 452773, July 28th, 2023
business
Thank you for your hard work and help.
Customer 452773, February 13th, 2023
History
Don't really see any of sources I provided, but elsewise its great, thank you!
Customer 452697, May 8th, 2021
Human Resources Management (HRM)
excellent work
Customer 452773, July 3rd, 2023
Business and administrative studies
excellent, got a 100
Customer 452773, May 17th, 2023
11,595
Customer reviews in total
96%
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
37%
Customers referred by a friend
OUR GIFT TO YOU
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat
Close

Sometimes it is hard to do all the work on your own

Let us help you get a good grade on your paper. Get professional help and free up your time for more important courses. Let us handle your;

  • Dissertations and Thesis
  • Essays
  • All Assignments

  • Research papers
  • Terms Papers
  • Online Classes
Live ChatWhatsApp