Aug 01, 2021
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Front Page, Industry News

DOP Mike Grippo on shooting a documentary about the illegal narcotics trade: “I saw people OD’ing right before my eyes”

By TO411 Freelance Writer David Pearson

Videographer Mike Grippo is no stranger to the difficult and often perilous situations one can get into behind the lens. He’s seen it all, or so we thought prior to our latest interview with him in which he reveals astonishing details of his recent jaunt across the world where he witnessed the multifaceted inner-workings of the North American drug trade for an upcoming documentary entitled ‘Drugs Inc.’

The first leg of the intense shooting schedule took Grippo from Vancouver through the United States to track the heroin trade, exploring inner-city elements such as needle exchange programs and the widespread prevalence of abuse. ”During our visit to the lower east side of Chicago we were given access to a ‘heroin den’ where I saw people OD’ing right before my eyes,” Grippo revealed.

The second leg of the shoot lasted 20 days during which Grippo’s lens was mainly focused on the inner-workings of cocaine trafficking. Throughout this part of the shoot, dangers mounted as the crew traveled to the U.S.-Mexican border at night in a pick-up truck, following the cartels’ distribution chain across the notoriously unsafe border town of Tijuana. 

“We also drove from L.A. to San Diego where we worked with border police, filming Americans who were looking for and trafficking drugs,” notes Grippo. ”In El Paso, Texas there’s a huge border crossing where our crew worked with the DEA . . . they stopped a truck whose operator had built a false gas tank and stuffed it with seventy pounds of marijuana . . . definitely an intense moment for everybody involved.”

“Most of the things I witnessed during the shooting of this documentary have really only been seen by the nation’s deepest undercover narcotics enforcement agents and those that they’re trying to capture,” explains Grippo. ”Looking at a hundred thousand dollars worth of heroin in front of you, I realized the potential danger I was in.”

‘Drugs Inc.’ is the brainchild of U.K.-based Wall to Wall productions, with Director David Herman at the helm, whom Grippo credits as his gate-opener to this rare and risky cinematographic adventure. Wall to Wall is one of the world’s leading producers of factual and dramatic content and one of the U.K.’s largest and longest established independent production companies.

“Without David I would never have had access to this kind of opportunity,” Grippo says. ”I’ve worked with numerous production companies in the past but Wall to Wall is truly a class act. Unlike previous documentaries of this kind, they’re great at telling both sides of the story, something which is extremely difficult in this case.”

Mike Grippo is an award-winning cinematographer whose 20-year career has taken him on worldwide journeys to film some of the most exotic locations on the planet. He has risked his life to cover important world events and specializes in dramatic production and social issues documentaries. 

TO411 Documentary and Long form Production coverage – comments, ideas or suggestions?
Email us: editorial@to411.com or publisher@to411.com.

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Front Page, Industry News

DOP Mike Grippo on shooting a documentary about the illegal narcotics trade: “I saw people OD’ing right before my eyes”

By TO411 Freelance Writer David Pearson

Videographer Mike Grippo is no stranger to the difficult and often perilous situations one can get into behind the lens. He’s seen it all, or so we thought prior to our latest interview with him in which he reveals astonishing details of his recent jaunt across the world where he witnessed the multifaceted inner-workings of the North American drug trade for an upcoming documentary entitled ‘Drugs Inc.’

The first leg of the intense shooting schedule took Grippo from Vancouver through the United States to track the heroin trade, exploring inner-city elements such as needle exchange programs and the widespread prevalence of abuse. ”During our visit to the lower east side of Chicago we were given access to a ‘heroin den’ where I saw people OD’ing right before my eyes,” Grippo revealed.

The second leg of the shoot lasted 20 days during which Grippo’s lens was mainly focused on the inner-workings of cocaine trafficking. Throughout this part of the shoot, dangers mounted as the crew traveled to the U.S.-Mexican border at night in a pick-up truck, following the cartels’ distribution chain across the notoriously unsafe border town of Tijuana. 

“We also drove from L.A. to San Diego where we worked with border police, filming Americans who were looking for and trafficking drugs,” notes Grippo. ”In El Paso, Texas there’s a huge border crossing where our crew worked with the DEA . . . they stopped a truck whose operator had built a false gas tank and stuffed it with seventy pounds of marijuana . . . definitely an intense moment for everybody involved.”

“Most of the things I witnessed during the shooting of this documentary have really only been seen by the nation’s deepest undercover narcotics enforcement agents and those that they’re trying to capture,” explains Grippo. ”Looking at a hundred thousand dollars worth of heroin in front of you, I realized the potential danger I was in.”

‘Drugs Inc.’ is the brainchild of U.K.-based Wall to Wall productions, with Director David Herman at the helm, whom Grippo credits as his gate-opener to this rare and risky cinematographic adventure. Wall to Wall is one of the world’s leading producers of factual and dramatic content and one of the U.K.’s largest and longest established independent production companies.

“Without David I would never have had access to this kind of opportunity,” Grippo says. ”I’ve worked with numerous production companies in the past but Wall to Wall is truly a class act. Unlike previous documentaries of this kind, they’re great at telling both sides of the story, something which is extremely difficult in this case.”

Mike Grippo is an award-winning cinematographer whose 20-year career has taken him on worldwide journeys to film some of the most exotic locations on the planet. He has risked his life to cover important world events and specializes in dramatic production and social issues documentaries. 

TO411 Documentary and Long form Production coverage – comments, ideas or suggestions?
Email us: editorial@to411.com or publisher@to411.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

DOP Mike Grippo on shooting a documentary about the illegal narcotics trade: “I saw people OD’ing right before my eyes”

By TO411 Freelance Writer David Pearson

Videographer Mike Grippo is no stranger to the difficult and often perilous situations one can get into behind the lens. He’s seen it all, or so we thought prior to our latest interview with him in which he reveals astonishing details of his recent jaunt across the world where he witnessed the multifaceted inner-workings of the North American drug trade for an upcoming documentary entitled ‘Drugs Inc.’

The first leg of the intense shooting schedule took Grippo from Vancouver through the United States to track the heroin trade, exploring inner-city elements such as needle exchange programs and the widespread prevalence of abuse. ”During our visit to the lower east side of Chicago we were given access to a ‘heroin den’ where I saw people OD’ing right before my eyes,” Grippo revealed.

The second leg of the shoot lasted 20 days during which Grippo’s lens was mainly focused on the inner-workings of cocaine trafficking. Throughout this part of the shoot, dangers mounted as the crew traveled to the U.S.-Mexican border at night in a pick-up truck, following the cartels’ distribution chain across the notoriously unsafe border town of Tijuana. 

“We also drove from L.A. to San Diego where we worked with border police, filming Americans who were looking for and trafficking drugs,” notes Grippo. ”In El Paso, Texas there’s a huge border crossing where our crew worked with the DEA . . . they stopped a truck whose operator had built a false gas tank and stuffed it with seventy pounds of marijuana . . . definitely an intense moment for everybody involved.”

“Most of the things I witnessed during the shooting of this documentary have really only been seen by the nation’s deepest undercover narcotics enforcement agents and those that they’re trying to capture,” explains Grippo. ”Looking at a hundred thousand dollars worth of heroin in front of you, I realized the potential danger I was in.”

‘Drugs Inc.’ is the brainchild of U.K.-based Wall to Wall productions, with Director David Herman at the helm, whom Grippo credits as his gate-opener to this rare and risky cinematographic adventure. Wall to Wall is one of the world’s leading producers of factual and dramatic content and one of the U.K.’s largest and longest established independent production companies.

“Without David I would never have had access to this kind of opportunity,” Grippo says. ”I’ve worked with numerous production companies in the past but Wall to Wall is truly a class act. Unlike previous documentaries of this kind, they’re great at telling both sides of the story, something which is extremely difficult in this case.”

Mike Grippo is an award-winning cinematographer whose 20-year career has taken him on worldwide journeys to film some of the most exotic locations on the planet. He has risked his life to cover important world events and specializes in dramatic production and social issues documentaries. 

TO411 Documentary and Long form Production coverage – comments, ideas or suggestions?
Email us: editorial@to411.com or publisher@to411.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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