You can tell a lot about Mike Rosenstein from his IMDB page. He was an associate producer for Zoolander 2. He was executive producer of Burning Love, a web series that parodied The Bachelor. He was executive producer for Nantucket Film Festival’s Comedy Roundtable, presented by Ben Stiller. In a Key & Peele cameo, he played “Interviewee” and “Zombie Rabbi.”
Rosenstein knows comedy. He knows comedians. As a prolific Hollywood producer, he knows how to bring comedy into your life.
But long before he founded his own production company, Sunset Rose Pictures, Rosenstein grew up in the East Side of Providence and went to Classical High School. He interned for Buddy Cianci in 2002, and he went to Boston University to study entrepreneurship. He likes to visit in the summer and hang out in Narragansett. Yes, he’s deeply embedded in the Hollywood economy, but his love for Rhode Island – and Del’s Lemonade – remains strong.
“I grew up in a creative, supportive environment,” recalls Rosenstein. “There’s always this very supportive artistic side to Providence. My mother does art, and my grandfather does art, and I was always sort of creative in that way.”
Mike’s most recent project is more experimental: Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics, a documentary that premieres May 11 on Netflix.
If you’ve ever wondered what Sting and Sarah Silverman are like on acid, Have a Good Trip is a (deliberately) hallucinogenic journey through their recollections, largely conveyed through wild costumes and animated montages. And because the director is friends with street artist Shepard Fairey, RISD’s most famous graduate also appears.
On the one hand, the documentary is exactly the kind of thing Rosenstein would produce – an offbeat, good-humored, star-studded film about outrageous visions. Distributing on Netflix is also a natural move; with Ben Stiller, Rosenstein has produced groundbreaking web series, including Another Period for Comedy Central. The reality-show spoof (coincidentally) takes place in turn-of-the-century Newport.
“I’m platform-agnostic,” says Rosenstein. “What’s important is to have creative freedom, and to have your projects seen. Netflix has been so creatively supportive, so supportive on the marketing side.”
He also notes the need for stimulation during months of quarantine: “It’s a tough time, and everyone’s looking for something to watch. We’re very fortunate to end up on Netflix, and for everyone in every country to be able to watch this at the same time.”
But Rosenstein has some serious intentions as well. The film, directed by Donick Cary, is part of a changing perception of psychedelics, which may follow in the sociological footsteps of cannabis.
“The conversation around psychedelics has changed in the past few years, even the past six months,” says Rosenstein. “We don’t know what the future holds. But we did grow up in the ‘just say no’ era. [The film] plays against the conversation that’s been going on, that’s, ‘You take acid and you jump out a window.’ I think it’s a very taboo subject, but I think the conversation is coming around. Mental health is a real issue, and we have to explore anything that can help humanity with that.”