Welcome to my new series, “Cool Cannabis Careers.” In it, I’ll feature people who’ve built successful professions and big followings focusing on fun, interesting niches of the cannabis industry. In this edition, I’m featuring Bentley Rolling, an L.A.-based filmmaker, photographer and marketing consultant who focuses on weed. Bentley is also the host of the podcast “Highly Conversational.”
Bentley specialize in “immersive content creation in the cannabis industry.” He is as passionate about the art of photography and film, as he is in love with the cannabis plant.
Sounds fascinating, right?
He takes pride in his focus on learning about this unique plant. “Its beauty and medicinal benefits fascinate me,” he says. “As someone with chronic anxiety and OCD, it’s helped me find relief and inspiration, while prescription medications left me feeling disconnected and stagnant. It’s been a life changing experience for me and I hope to break the stigma through my work.”
From Recreation To Creation
Bentley had been a cannabis consumer for several years before he got into the business. He started out in the cannabis space as the marketing director for Linx Vapor, where he helped grow the company from a startup to a top-tier player.
“This gives me a unique perspective, as I was able to gain industry experience in business and consumer marketing, before ever transitioning to a career as an independent creative,” he reveals. This, he says, helps him better understand where his clients are coming from and how to grow their businesses.
When Bentley first started in the industry, there were very few cannabis-centric creatives, he continues. “It was hard to find anyone I related to. I wanted to fill that gap, inspire others to share their experiences and raise the bar for cannabis content.
“I aim to create visual experiences that no one has seen before. I love pushing myself outside my comfort zone by experimenting with new mediums like the Hyper Zoom and Bullet Zoom. Through my work, I try to elevate the public perspective of cannabis.”
Through my work, I try to elevate the public perspective of cannabis.”
Prior to joining the cannabis industry, Bentley was already in marketing, working for a mainstream agency in L.A. As he transitioned into cannabis, he was able to leverage his experience in social media and influencer marketing to build a career.
“In the past, I was able to use paid ad platforms to gain exposure. Since cannabis is still viewed as an illicit market on a national level, I essentially had to throw out that part of the playbook and focus more heavily on shareable content,” he added.
So, this was his focus all along: high quality cannabis-specific content.
“The majority of the videos were low resolution depictions of people smoking, salacious photos of women holding weed, and cheesy Rasta drenched graphic design,” he explained. “There were a few gems, but overall I didn’t feel represented as a cannabis user. This seemed innately wrong to me, as cannabis has inspired some of the greatest works of art. I saw this gap in the market and thought it would be a great place to apply my skill set and love for this plant.”
Leveraging ‘Beautiful’ Into A Brand
One of the words that best describes Bentley’s work is “beautiful.”
So, I wondered, how can one leverage this into building a brand.
Bentley’s past experience in mainstream marketing made him very aware of the importance of quality. For him, this is difference between gaining a loyal customer and being completely overlooked.
Your photos and videos are essentially the face of your brand, he explained. It is the first thing customers see and likely the reason they end up clicking ‘Buy.’
This means it’s important to understand your customer and relate to them on a personal level. “There is no way to fake this,” he commented. “Consumers seem to know when things are inauthentic. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize content creation in your marketing scheme.”
Landing The Dream Job
Before ending our conversation, I asked Bentley to share some advice for other people looking to get into the cannabis art scene.
For him, there is no clear-cut career path in this industry, though.
“It’s still very much in its infancy. This works as both a positive and negative for you. On the positive side, there is still room to make a place for yourself in this business. Conversely, it’s difficult to know where to start. My recommendation is to find what you love to do and apply that to the industry.”
So, he recommends you try differentiate yourself from other creatives within the community, and work everyday to be the best at what you do.
“Get comfortable with failure, because you are going to fail a lot before you eventually succeed. There is no such thing as overnight success. Learn from your failures and persist,” he said, sharing a Calvin Coolidge quote by means of conclusion:
“The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”.
You can find Bentley’s work on his Instagram, @BentleyRolling, and on his website BentleyRolling.com