Billy Ray Cyrus has found new life as an ass-kicking nug of weed in his latest video, “Angel in My Pocket.”
The one-time mullet king’s newest single and accompanying music video for the song is an ode to something every cannabis aficionado can recognize: an emergency joint.
The video brings Cyrus, aka Doobie Ray, to life as an animated cannabis bud, complete with the artists signature cowboy hat, boots, and beard. Cyrus voices the character who works at The Nug Nation gas station and breaks into jokes and street fights throughout the blues and country-based song.
The single comes off Cyrus’ latest album, The Snakedoctor Circus, out May 24. “Angel in My Pocket” is written by Don Von Tress, also responsible for the country star’s first chart-topping 1992 hit, “Achy Breaky Heart.”
The music video was co-directed by Potsy Ponciroli of Hideout Pictures and Mikey Peterson of The Nug Nation.
We spoke to Peterson about the process of creating the animation for the music video, and some of his favorite moments from it.
Peterson explained that “Angel in My Pocket” took two straight weeks to complete.
“The team got the green light to create the video on Easter Sunday and delivered it just four days before it premiered on Youtube on May 9,” said Peterson.
The process required “all hands on deck,” said Peterson, adding that The Nug Nation’s team of eight worked every day and night — sometimes for 40 hours straight hours — to create the animated enlivened nugs and storyline.
The hardest scenes to shot were the rocket landing, and the car jumping scenes. Peterson explained that maneuvering the smoke, and the weight and positioning of the car, made it a difficult undertaking.
One of Peterson’s favorites scene is the car’s landing in the hemp field, he explained, “there’s an abrupt stop to the song [and an ensuing joke] which makes it impactful.”
Animation projects like these — and the ones found on The Nug Nation’s website — are shot frame-by-frame, Peterson explained. One second of animated footages takes an average of 24 frames.“A lot of those images are then doubled depending on the scene and if any rigging is needed,” he said. “Rigging is the process of deleting stands and supports that hold up characters or props within a scene.”
The process took around than 10,000 still frames in total to complete the video, which is just over four minutes long.
“Animation is the most tedious form of production you can possibly do,” Peterson said. “Everything is done frame-by-frame.” All materials are hand-built, including the set and characters. After design and filming are done, it goes into post-production, where it’s turned into video and edited, “so the process is more extensive than anyone could ever imagine for one second of video,” he added.
All of the nugs in “Angel in My Pocket” and other Nug Nation creations are made from real cannabis. The cannabis is provided by Whole Meds Dispensary in Denver, Colorado, who select each for its photogenic color and texture.
Not to worry, though, no top-shelf buds were harmed in the making of the video.
“It’s not top-shelf, it’s only used for visuals. No need to waste the good stuff,” he laughed.
The Nug Nation’s collaboration with Billy Ray Cyrus was rather serendipitous.
The company produces a series of stop-motion animated comedy clips. The Nug Nation is part of BurnTV’s original programming lineup. BurnTV is a lifestyle and entertainment network set to launch this summer1.
Each episode of The Nug Nation series takes place in Nugville, a fictional Colorado town. One of its main characters Diesel (named after the famous strain Sour Diesel) works at The Nug Nation Gas Station, which also appears at the beginning of “Angel in My Pocket.”
When asked if Cyrus’ song — whose lyrics include “I lost my job at the station” — was in homage to the comedy series, Peterson said it was a coincidence, one that started a conversation and a collaboration between the video’s co-directors and Cyrus’ management team.
Part of the enjoyment of this project, and animation in general, said Peterson, is the ability to go off script, and “throw in some funny gags.” One example of this is in the video’s fight scene.
“Our lead animator, Jamey Jorgensen, thought it would be funny if the joint just pops up in someone’s mouth [during the fight],” Peterson said. “It’s fun to add little surprises or scenes within a scene that were not originally written. Animators are actors themselves in the sense that they become these characters during the animation process and are given the freedom of improving when they feel the need to.”
Keep an eye out for more Nug Nation collaborations in the near future. While Peterson remains tight-lipped about details, he hinted at an upcoming project which will feature an Instagram series and a well-known artist.
5 Tips for Owning and Operating Successful Cannabis Dispensaries
The cannabis retail landscape has changed. Once regarded as somewhat of a novelty, legalization has allowed cannabis dispensaries to evolve into modern and innovative retail storefronts more akin to an Apple Store than the dark, secretive spaces they used to be. Some, like Shiny Bud, are proving to be leaders in the space, setting an exemplary standard of a contemporary cannabis retail experience.
Shiny Bud is one of Canada’s most successful dispensary chains. They pride themselves on offering customers a premium experience from the moment they enter, from a contemporary and inviting store design to highly trained staff, and of course, premium products.
Co-founder Alex Ledesma joined the cannabis industry when the Canadian government passed the Cannabis Act in 2018. She comes from a forward-thinking family of entrepreneurs, so the move to cannabis was an obvious next step.
“I saw an opportunity to be part of something big in Canada’s history, so we started following the industry, and applied for an application,” said Ledesma.
Shiny Bud opened its first dispensary in Toronto on February 14. Fast forward only a few months, and the company has opened the doors to its fifth location in a small town called Orleans, just outside of Ottawa.
“We have a pretty aggressive rollout,” said Ledesma. “Coming from a quick-service industry, we’re quite comfortable with builds and finding locations. We took our expertise from that and put it into cannabis. And it’s all completely within the family.”
Shiny Bud was awarded 75 dispensary licenses by the Canadian government. The company’s expansion plans include two more Ontario store openings this year, bringing the total number of store openings to seven. And they have no plans to slow down.
“We should be hitting 30 stores by the end of 2021. And we’re planning on maxing out to 75 stores allocated. When we stop to think about it, it can take our breath away.”
The constant march forward of legalization has created an ever-growing interest in dispensary ownership. Below, Ledesma offers up five pieces of advice for those looking to enter the cannabis game.
1. Have a Well-Trained Team That’s Focused on Customer Experience
As the industry is still so young, formal education in cannabis is still relatively scarce amongst prospective employees. For Shiny Bud, this presents an opportunity to reinforce one of their most important business objectives: provide cannabis education and training for their budtenders to pass on to their customers.
“Education is everything because the industry’s so new,” Ledesma said. “We truly believe that we’re an industry where we need to listen to our guests. This is one of the first things we teach our budtenders, along with providing a safe and educational experience for our customers in-store.”
For many customers, the biggest value in going to a dispensary is learning which products are best suited for a specific condition or effect, whether they’re seasoned cannabis consumers or newly curious.
“The goal for budtenders at Shiny Bud is to ensure customers are choosing the right product for them to provide a safe experience both in-store and at home,” Ledesma said.
2. Create a Guest Centric Environment
This goes without saying, but customer service is critical to the success of any retail operation. Ledesma attributes Shiny Bud’s success to the brand’s core vision of providing a “fast and friendly cannabis retail destination.”
“We strive to offer our customers a unique and memorable experience — this has stayed with us since day one,” Ledesma said. “When you walk into any of our Shiny Bud cannabis dispensaries, they’re bright, they’re big, and there’s a lot of education. The budtenders are dressed uniformly, and there’s personality — it’s not what people expect.”
Watching the change in customer demographic has been encouraging to Ledesma, who notes the increase in the 60+ demographic looking to add cannabis to their health and wellness, whether it be recreational, or to aid with a specific ailment.
“As a disclaimer, we always have to tell them that we’re not doctors and we can’t give them medical advice, so to start low and go slow,” Ledesma said. “It’s nice to see people like my mom, my dad, and grandparents come through the door, because you also know you’re helping break down the stigma.”
3. Stock the Best Inventory
With so many quality products now available, choosing which ones to bring to Shiny Bud is quite a lengthy process.
“We carry out a lot of research in terms of what’s new or trending, and what our customers are looking for in each location,” Ledesma said. “I wish I knew consumers’ buying preferences before our initial order was placed. We ended up buying too much!”
“We also use recommendations from our team members, our budtenders, and our customers. A lot of times we bring in representatives of the licensed producers to educate our budtenders about the products we’re selling.”
The three most popular purchases across three Shiny Bud locations are dried flower, vapes, and pre-rolls. “Our most frequently asked question is, ‘what is your highest THC or CBD?’” Ledesma said.
4. Have a Great Location
The age-old proverb of “location, location, location” rings true in the cannabis industry, too. Finding the right real estate is arguably the most important part of retail success. Plus, because of the industry’s prohibition history and the nature of the products being sold, it’s important to find understanding landlords.
“Initially, landlords have said to us, ‘absolutely not, we will not entertain the idea of having a cannabis retailer here,’ so I invite them to take a look at one of our dispensaries so they can see the vision of what and who we are as a company and as an industry.”
5. Ensure Your Cannabis Dispensaries Connect with the Community
Dispensaries are already major focal points in their communities. For Ledesma, giving back and helping break down old stigmas related to cannabis is a top priority.
Shiny Bud is in the process of launching a collaboration with Tsaichedelic to create a line of tie-dyed tees and other merchandise. The proceeds will go towards supporting Cannabis Amnesty projects, like providing legal counsel to get those with criminal records over minor cannabis charges expunged.
“Being a woman and a person of color in the cannabis space, I really believe in the fact that it needs to be the same playing fields for everybody,” Ledesma said. “Teaming up with Cannabis Amnesty just felt right.”
With the regulated cannabis market still so new, it’s important that business owners are able to adapt to changes and weather the ever-changing landscape of cannabis and the regulations.
“It’s ever-changing, so we’re constantly learning and growing from it,” Ledesma said. “Regulations are always changing, so being fluid helps a lot.”
Look for Shiny Bud cannabis dispensaries in Canada and keep an eye out for their expansion into America in 2021.
Gwyneth Paltrow and a Slew of Celebs Invest in ‘Social Tonic’ Brand, Cann
Gwyneth Paltrow is one of several high-profile celebrities investing in cannabis-infused beverage company, Cann.
Rebel Wilson, Ruby Rose, Darren Criss, Tove Lo, Casey Neistat, former NBA star Baron Davis and Bre-Z have also invested in the company.
The actress and Goop CEO and founder calls cannabis a “hero ingredient of the future” for wellness and says she was drawn to Cann’s drinks, which are infused with small doses of THC and CBD, as an appealing alternative to alcohol.
“There’s a whole sober-curious movement that’s going on and the cannabis-curious movement that’s going on, this is kind of at the intersection of those things in a way,” said Paltrow.
Cann is not the health and wellness moguls’ first cannabis investment. Paltrow admitted that while she’s not a big cannabis user personally, she acknowledges its “amazing medicinal qualities.”
“There’s no reason why alcohol should be so much easier to purchase than Cann, and I’m confident the founders will lead the charge in finding ways to integrate it into the same purchasing channels and drinking environments,” she said via a news release.
Cann founder Luke Anderson called the comments made by Gwyneth Paltrow “a sign that Cann (and microdose beverages more broadly) are a viable answer to that very common consumer pain point.”
He added that when people think of Paltrow, “they don’t think of ‘weed’ – they think of cutting-edge solutions for today’s health and wellness needs.”
Cann has positioned itself as a “healthy” and hangover-free alternative to alcohol. Most of Cann’s “social tonics” contain roughly 30 calories and are “microdosed” with 2 milligrams of THC and 4 milligrams of CBD. A recently introduced Pineapple Jalapeño flavor contains 50 calories and 5 milligrams of THC.
Earlier this year, Cann secured $5 million in funding as part of the company’s 2020 production and distribution expansion plans for 2020.
According to TechCrunch, the beverage startup has sold 150,000 cans, which retail for $4 each, since last May. Cann products are available at just 60 dispensaries in California, and online via the Eaze cannabis marketplace, making the $600,000 in revenue the company generated in less than a year even more impressive.
Miss Marijuana: Canadian Beauty Queen Alyssa Boston Is on a Mission to End Stigmas
Alyssa Boston is a woman on a mission. The 24-year-old Canadian beauty queen is using her platform to start a conversation on ending stigmas around mental illness, competing in pageants — and cannabis.
While she doesn’t actually smoke weed, Canada’s crowned Miss Universe caused a media uproar when she wore a sparkling cannabis-inspired look during the 2019 Miss Universe competition in Atlanta, Georgia.
Cannabis Aficionado spoke to her about breaking stigmas, social media and of course, that costume.
CA: How was your Miss Universe experience?