Aug 302006
Authors: MICHELLE ZILLIS The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Films of all genres hit the local venues of Fort Collins this past weekend in celebration of the first TriMedia Festival.

The first festival of this caliber to hit Northern Colorado went off smoothly with films covering genres from comedies to foreign and everywhere in between. In addition, TV pilots and theatre pieces were presented.

“Overall we really feel it was a success, given the turnaround time and planning time; I think it turned out great,” said Steve Roberts, the technical director of the festival.

After receiving over 50 entries, Roberts helped narrow the films down to 25 pieces to fit into a jam-packed weekend.

“Tomorrow is Today” kicked the festival off Friday night in the Lory Student Center. The Lincoln Center, Nonesuch Theatre and Everyday Joe’s played host to films and discussions the rest of the weekend.

A documentary entitled “Dreadheads: Portrait of a Subculture” was shown as the third installation of the “Wild Side” portion of the festival Saturday night. The documentary dove into a subculture that Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead claimed was one of the last places on earth a person can disappear into and not be found.

“Dreadheads is a story about white kids who dread up their hair, thus setting themselves apart from society in a very provocative way and live a life on the road following jam-bands,” said Steven Hurlburt, co-director of the documentary.

The film primarily focused on dreadlocks and the lifestyle led by those who choose this fashion statement. Hurlburt asked interviewees what their dreads meant to them, and received a number of responses such as, “My dreads are my art,” and “They came to me in a dream.”

Another honest soul explained that, “I didn’t dread my hair, my hair dreaded naturally. I just didn’t comb it.”

In an interview with Hurlburt, who rocks long grey dreads, he explained that he didn’t dread his hair until after he finished filming in the summer of 2004, and boasts that he hasn’t brushed his hair in two and a half years. Yet, he dispels some of the rumors about dreadlocks being a simple, low maintenance do.

“They can be a real pain in the ass,” Hurlburt said.

His film explores the nuisance of dreads more deeply, as one young man with dreads down to his hips explained that if he let his hair dry naturally it could take an upward of 3 days, in which mildew would start to grow, so he has to blow dry them which takes about 3 hours. He then confessed to only washing his hair once a week.

The documentary also explores stereotypes of the subculture, such as drug use. In a two-minute segment, entitled “High Right Now,” Hurlburt asks people if they are currently high. He receives a wide array of answers.

One woman explained that she knows a lot of “dreadies” who smoke a lot of weed and knows some who don’t smoke any.

When asked why they decided to devote a section to drugs and include off-the-cuff remarks throughout the film about drugs, Hurlburt said that he thought that getting high was part of the scene.

“We felt that to ignore it would be wrong, but to elevate it would probably be equally as wrong,” Hurlburt said.

Throughout the two-year filming process, Hurlburt and his other co-director Flournoy Holmes, and his film editor, Fletcher Holmes, followed jambands across the country from Maine to California.

The crew ran into many individuals repeatedly and talked to them throughout the film.

While the documentary had many humorous interviews and interesting anecdotes, certain people touched audiences’ hearts.

A 17-year-old girl named Little Ashley Tree was a great artist with a black cloud over her. Living her life on the road, she confessed a desire to get off dope and try to get clean, but became depressed at the loss of her boyfriend, who she called her “soul mate.”

He died a day before his 18th birthday of a drug overdose. Hurlburt said that he saw her a few months ago and looked like a completely different person, happy and healthy.

The goal of the documentary was to create something that would be entertaining, interesting, funny and authentic.

“We wanted to create something that people would come away from feeling that they had learned something about these kids and this lifestyle,” Hurlburt said.

The documentary’s goals were attained as viewers are taken on a 77-minute ride through jamband concerts and interviews with interesting young individuals who all have dreaded their hair.

One woman talked about her inspiration, the Grateful Dead, and then elaborated that she was happy her parents got a divorce because it lead her to the music that changed her life.

In addition to interviewing “dreadies,” the crew also interviews many of the people that in are in essence the idols of these dreadies, like Bob Weir and several of the members from Phish and Widespread Panic.

“We thought it was a good film to show because it’s pretty timely,” Roberts said. “A lot of people in Colorado have dreadlocks now, so it seemed like a good slice of this counter culture that is around us.”

Staff writer Michelle Zillis can be reached at


If you missed the film, but interested in seeing it, you have more chances.

-The DVD was released to the public on Tuesday, so you can buy it

-There will be big screening in Denver on Sept. 21, in Boulder on Sept. 24 and Durango on Sept 26.

-Check out the website for more information:

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