Potsdam toilet gardens documentary coming to streaming services in August


May 15 – POTSDAM – The documentary film “Potty Town: Where Protest Meets Porcelain” will debut on major streaming services in August.

CJ Wallis, one of the film’s executive producers, said the exact date has not been set, but will be announced in the near future.

“We don’t have a specific date yet as we are early in the process of delivering all the assets. Outside of getting an exclusivity with Netflix or Studio, which we won’t know for another month or so, the film will be on all major streaming services, satellite providers and cable PPVs,” Wallis said.

The documentary chronicles the emergence of Potsdam’s toilet gardens, the community in which they grow, and Frederick J. “Hank” Robar Sr., the man behind the internationally acclaimed floral toilet.

Morgan D. Elliott, the film’s director, is a Canton native who earned a bachelor’s degree in video production from SUNY Plattsburgh. He also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. Mr. Elliott has directed photography for festival shorts, but “Potty Town” is his directorial debut.

Working as a videographer for SUNY Canton in 2017, Mr Elliott had no plans to make a feature film about toilet gardens at the time. His curiosity led him to interview Mr. Robar, and after talking with the 76-year-old for two hours, he realized: “There’s definitely more to it than I thought.”

In a 2021 interview with The Times, Mr Elliott said a development in the ongoing saga that happened in 2020 – the third time the village has unsuccessfully tried to uproot the toilets – prompted him to review early interviews and the B-roll he filmed in 2017.

“From there,” he said, “it became a toilet all the time.”

The production involved interviewing a few dozen people at the heart of the unfinished story, and Mr. Elliott cultivated a friendship with Mr. Robar. Players include former village code enforcement officers, professors from SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson universities, reporters, and neighbors. All have a vision of what the village could and should be, incredibly varied visions, Mr Elliott said.

The “enemy” of this story, he said, is neither the village council nor Mr Robar. It’s not the St. Lawrence Health System or Clarkson University — the two institutions that have vehemently opposed Mr. Robar’s gardens for the past decade. Perhaps the story doesn’t even have an “enemy” and is best understood through the evolution of the community’s sense of identity.

“It’s one of those iceberg stories,” Mr Elliott said. “All themes are below the surface.”

Go to wdt.me/nswYcc to read an earlier interview with Mr. Elliott.

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