Lady Buds: Women Elevating the Cannabis Industry

Women are blazing the trail...

Project type: Documentary
Project status: Production
Director/Producer/Executive Producer: Chris J. Russo
Producer: Steak House
Cinematographer: Christian Bruno
Associate Producer: Sophia Wang
Consulting Producer: Matt Weaver
Co-Producer: Jaime DeLaCruz
Email: [email protected]
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Capturing history in the making, Lady Buds profiles some of the fearless women trailblazing the cannabis industry as we march quickly towards adult-use legalization in California on January 1, 2018. From multi-generational farmers to visionary entrepreneurs to medicinal marijuana activists, Lady Buds gives voice to the women who can finally be their true, unapologetic selves and “come out of the cannabis closet.”


All eyes are on California as we march towards legalization of adult-use marijuana on January 1, 2018. Lady Buds follows the journey of six female entrepreneurs as they traverse the chaotic transition to the legal market. With regulations constantly changing, permits pending, and the price of weed dropping, only time will tell who survives this historic moment.

Karyn Wagner’s been a successful serial entrepreneur, and now owns the largest female-run extraction operation in California. She’s dedicated to helping small farmers survive legalization by marketing the brand everyone already knows: Humboldt weed. Chiah Rodriques, a second-generation cannabis farmer, formed Mendocino Generations, a collective working towards legal compliance. Amidst financial pressures, Chiah must balance working on the farm parenting her two sons. Makers of topical salves, Emerald Cup Judges, “OG” farmers and best friends, The Bud Sisters, shed light on the implications legalization has on those who’ve lived in the Humboldt hills for decades.

Former Catholic school principal, ordained minister and 70-year old entrepreneur, Sue Taylor’s mission is to provide elder access to medical marijuana at her dispensary in Berkeley. Felicia Carbajal delivered weed to AIDS patients in the 90s and has been an activist dedicated to ensuring all minorities have equal access to medicinal cannabis ever since.

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Meet the Filmmakers

Chris J. Russo — Director/Producer/Executive Producer

Chris J. Russo’s award-winning short films have screened all over the world, including the Sundance Film Festival, broadcast on Showtime, PBS, IFC, LOGO and Netflix. She is also a Fellow of Film Independent’s Director and Screenwriter Labs and has over 15 years experience working as a filmmaker, including Post Supervising 13 feature films. Russo moved to Hollywood from New York in 2000 and worked on the vendor side of the film business in management positions for Kodak and Arriflex, but left the corporate world in 2016 to launch Paceline Pictures, a boutique production company that focuses on developing original content.

Christian Bruno — Cinematographer

Christian Bruno is a cinematographer and director whose work includes Brian Davis’ feature-length doc, The Million Dollar Duck about wildlife painters, the Federal Duck Stamp and the American Dream, which won the Audience Award at Slamdance 2016. As a director, he co-directed the Sundance Award-winner, Pie Fight 69 with Sam Green. The short documentary, Ed & Pauline (co-directed with Natalija Vekic), a portrait of the early years of film critic Pauline Kael, premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. His upcoming feature-length doc,
Strand: A Natural History of Cinema, is a meditation on movie going.

Sophia Wang — Associate Producer/Editor

Sophia Wang is a Bay Area-raised filmmaker and pizza enthusiast. She graduated from UCSC’s Film and Digital Media production program with honors, December 2016. Sophia’s senior thesis and documentary short Susan 阿 姨 was an official selection at the 2017 Ithaca Pan Asian American Film Festival. As Live Executive Producer, Sophia also kept the campus’ broadcast television organization On the Spot operating. Sophia now hones her skills in sunny Los Angeles, working as Associate Producer and Editor at Paceline Pictures. She hopes to continue profiling inspiring individuals and creating content that explores overlooked truths, triggering deeper dialogues.


For inquiries, please contact [email protected].