As its title suggests, “The Sunshine Makers” is probably the happiest, most carefree drug documentary you’re likely to see. The film explores the people behind the most well-known strain of LSD, who produced millions of doses in a single, sleep-deprived month. Their goal wasn’t money, but instead they wanted to save the world: If everyone took LSD, they would experience the feelings of love and connectedness the hallucinogen promises.
To tell the story of the two vastly different men behind the operation, director Cosmo Feilding Mellen combines a mixture of archival footage from the 1960s, talking-head interviews and video from a contemporary California ranch where the partners reunite.
Tim Scully is an introvert from Berkeley who eats the same thing every day; Nick Sand is a charming Lothario from Brooklyn. Funded by banking heir Billy Hitchcock, the two men partnered to make the legendary “Orange Sunshine” LSD. They joined forces with the “Brotherhood of Eternal Love,” a.k.a. the “hippie mafia,” to distribute the drug around the world.
“The Sunshine Makers” is less about the drama and danger of the drug scene and more about these two fascinating characters and the people in their orbit. Sand and Scully are engaging in both their past and current versions, making for an absolutely enjoyable diversion. This documentary meanders a bit as it goes between time periods, but it’s never less than entertaining and illuminating.
‘The Sunshine Makers’
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica