There are two things we love at the Alamo Drafthouse -- movies and beer. We keep finding crazy ways to combine them, but it's exciting when the connection happens organically, and with a deeper connection to our community. That's why we're excited to host the Colorado premiere of Thomas Kolicko's documentary, CRAFTING A NATION on Thursday, May 16, at 7:00.
CRAFTING A NATION sheds a light on a corner of the American economy few may have thought about: the craft brewer. As our nation struggles to foster homegrown industry, American craft brewers are already doing important and dynamic things Kolicko's documentary focuses on a number of craft brewers, scattered all across the country, and follows their struggles and successes as they develop their business.
We caught up with Kolicko ahead of our Colorado premiere, and he graciously answered a few questions about his documentary. If you would like to talk to Kolicko yourself, he'll be in attendence on Thursday night for CRAFTING A NATION, as will several craft brewers featured in the film.
You were originally a snow-sports man. What drew you to wanting to make a documentary about small brewers?
I left snow sports because I wanted to evolve and grow as a filmmaker. That type of filmmaking is all about creating a unique style and cinematography (which I brought to CRAFTING) but focuses little on storytelling, character and plot. My goal for can was to push doc filmaking in character, story and the camera tools that are used. Think doc, think sitdown interview, talking head source footage like a thesis paper. Who wants to watch a thesis paper? Not me, so we rented helicopters, put a cable Camera through Odell, used Jib arms, but most of all captured an emotional story about the love of a dream pursued by two brothers.
How did you choose which craft brewers to focus on? Was narrowing it down a difficult process, or did the subjects just lend themselves to the film?
I love the story of craft beer. Again, I draw reference to typical docs. They often have a emotional reaction of sadness, hopelessness and tell audiences what to think rather than questioning the audience and respect an audience. Subjectivity over objectivity. I wants inspire and move our audience. Move them in a way to the emotional level to understand the passion and care that brewers have when creating craft beer. We wanted a nationwide story captured through several strings of a through-line. That hard work, passion, passion and determination pay off. And in the story of the film, it's paying off in the way that craft beer is greatly helping the US economy grow out of the Great Recession. New jobs, local sourcing, and the local economic distributions of revenue from one company thriving is huge. See the story in the film of Upslope and Wild Goose engineering.
We know a director isn’t supposed to play favorites with his subjects, but is there a story or moment in CRAFTING A NATION that really stands out as yours?
Favorites? The experience of making the film has changed from life and my philosophies. My favorite emotionally moving moment in during the process of the filmmaking was the day I couldn't put the wireless microphone on Chad Miller, from BSB. [He's] our main character. Everything was going wrong, everything was breaking, including him, and they were out of money. It moved me because someone that is a great friend of mine was in such danger of losing his dream, [and] I couldn't do anything to help him. His only words to me that day was, "Want to help? Get this film done." That was the moment when I released this wasn't my film anymore, it was story that needs to told, and it was my job to tell it.
Someone says to you “I don’t like beer. Why would I want to watch this documentary?”, what would you say to convince them to check it out?
Don't like beer? We did a test screening to a group of underagers and not beer drinkers. They loved it and were moved by it. This isn't a film about beer, it's just the subject matter. I wanted to talk about how the American dream isn't dead. Hard work, passion, and determination will pay off. So watch this film if you want to see how the underdog is winning.
Your documentary focuses a lot on what craft brewers are doing for the American economy. Americans have often had a very puritanical attitude towards alcohol as opposed to Europe. Do you think this has changed? Do you think small brewers have played a part in this at all?
There has been a stigma in America toward alcohol. It exists because big beer promotes over consumption, consumerism, and demeans personal intelligence. Drink a 30 pack over the weekend, party with bikini clad women, and everyone will love you. Craft beer is gaining so much traction because it is the exact opposite. "Americans are outgrowing lack of character and they have seen through that, and are tired of that," says Brian Hunt of Moonlight Brewing. What you see now is a beer culture that is about discovery, education, and wanting to support a local economy. Beer isn't a bad thing, it's a social catalyst that been around for centuries. We're overcoming that stigma, by in large across the country in small and local taprooms. Whens the last time you saw a bouncer at a taproom? I've been to 150 breweries in the last year and haven't been one yet. Because craft beer is about enjoyment, socializing and above all understanding great beer.
For more about Thomas Kolicko and CRAFTING A NATION, visit the film's official website. Tickets for the Thursday, May 16 Colorado premiere of CRAFTING A NATION are on sale now!