Bakers Original Series follows a college student who attempts to create an effective, cannabis-based treatment for a rare progressive neurological disease called ALS.

The series was written and directed by Nathan Hochstetler whose passion for exploring real-world issues is demonstrated through his creative work.

What inspired your web series?
Marijuana is getting legalized across the US and yet there’s still so much regulation on how people use it. CBD oil (which Eliot makes in the series) is still illegal, even if you obtain the medical marijuana legally. It’s insane. Other countries have tons of cannabis-based treatments and a wealth of research in the works, but in the US it’s stifled. People are out there suffering from all kinds of ailments and they’re forced to make these cannabis-based medicines all on their own, often with bootleg methods. You can go on message boards and see people trading recipes on how to help their parent deal with the pain of chemotherapy with CBD oil. Why do people have to make their own medicine and break the law doing so? It’s not right.

Why did you choose web series as your format?
Marijuana laws are changing so fast, it’s nice to work in a format that favors speed and adaptability. We can upload a new episode the day we finish it, and I can write a new episode the same day a new marijuana law is passed. There’s no waiting around for anyone else to press the button that says, “Go.”

What is unique about your series?
There aren’t many web series dramas that account for current events and politics. I see a lot of series that are focused on a very small slice of life, or are genre-based. This series is very tied to political changes we can’t always predict, which is exciting and feels unique.

The emotions that are depicted in your work felt very raw and visceral. How did you work with your actors to bring those emotions to the screen?
I tend to support risk-taking over capturing the same performance from different angles. I see myself as a cheerleader for the actors in their exploration of a scene. My hope is that they bring something to set that is greater than anything I ever imagined when I wrote the thing.

The issues that are explored in Bakers Original affect many people in different ways. What reaction did you get from people when they saw your work?
People my age tend to view the legalization of marijuana and the use of medical marijuana the same way Eliot does. Older generations tend to see it as a drug. Younger people have said, “It’s obviously medicine, there are real pharmaceutical drugs already out there. What’s the big deal.” Older people have said, “See, it’s a drug. She overdoses.” Both sides have truth because the current law prevents CBD oil and cannabis derivatives from becoming pharmaceutical drugs. Mistakes will happen.

What did you learn from making this series? What would you do differently?
The thing I learned most from this series was a greater sense of how to produce—bringing an entire crew together from start to finish, managing SAG paperwork to pitching the finished concept. Producing is a complex job because it’s multi-faceted and never really ends. Looking back, I would’ve liked to shoot for more days, but that always seems to be the case.

What do you want your audience to take away from this series?
I would love for more people to question the way they look at marijuana. It’s not all about Wiz Khalifa smoking a blunt and throwing money at girls. There is real innovation happening in medicine and the US is suffering because of the current laws preventing researchers from doing the work that could treat people with illnesses like ALS. I hope the characters feel like an accurate depiction of that dichotomy.

Do you have any plans for this series?
We’re currently pitching the series to various networks and have plans to make more content for the show in the coming months.

What advice would you give to emerging creators?
Learn about filmmaking by making films on your iPhone for no money. Upload, reflect, repeat.

Bakers is yet to be released online but you can watch the first two episodes at Melbourne WebFest on Thursday 29 June.