Thursday, April 3, 2014

Michigan Beer Film Brew & A

When I heard The Michigan Beer Film was being produced, I was excited.  I was hoping the film would take me back to the breweries I visited with The Better Beer Authority in April 2012.  I was also hoping the film should show the spirit of Michigan Beer which we saw on the trip.  It captured it beautifully.  After watching the film, I reached out to director/producer Kevin Romeo from Rhino Media Productions for this interview.  The film focuses on long standing breweries, up and coming breweries, breweries in the making, hop growers, beer festivals and mobile bottling/canning solutions. You don't have to be from Michigan to enjoy this movie.  I'm just a guy from Washington DC who flew to Grand Rapids one day to do a trip with my friends!
Follow this link to watch the official trailer.

courtesy of Rhino Media
Better Beer Authority (BBA): What is your background in terms of film making?  What is your background with craft beer? How did the idea to make The Michigan Beer film come about?

Kevin Romeo (KR):  This is actually my first film project, I have been creating art for my entire life and making videos with friends since I was 10. I founded a visual media production company 4 years ago and have made it part of who we are to create film projects that people can enjoy. 

My background with craft beer starts with a two hearted ale that my friends older brother offered me during college (which I didn't like). Like so many others, one of the first craft beers I ever really enjoyed was Bell's Oberon. 

I remember taking a brewery tour of Goose Island the weekend that I turned 21, so I guess I started right away. The idea for the film came about because someone suggested that we document the production house growth of Bell's, and I decided, why not just make a film about the entire industry in the state?

BBA: Greenbush, Paw Paw, and Dark Horse are prominently featured in the film, along with others with less amount of focus.  How did you decide which breweries to focus on?

KR: I had  a personal connection with Greenbush, my father in law knew the owner before GB started. He had been telling me to check them out for a while. From there, we just went where the path seem to naturally lead. 

BBA:  People often have pipe dreams, "wouldn't it be cool to make this film?!"  But you and Rhino made The Michigan Beer Film happen.  What was the driving force to finish the film?  What was the biggest obstacle?

KRThe driving force to finish it is a cultural value at Rhino Media. We finish what we start and take a lot of pride in the idea that if we talk about something, we're going to make it happen. 

A lot of artists have grand ideas, but believe that if you're not actually doing the labor, then the ideas are worthless. 

Kevin Romeo
BBA:  The film has been out for a little while now (what was the release date?), how has the reception been in Michigan?

KREveryone seems to love the film, it's a great centerpiece to hold a beer event around. We've sold over 2000 copies of the film via our website and at showings. 

BBA: What has been reaction to the film been beyond the borders of Michigan?

KR: A lot of DVDs that are purchased through the website go out of state, some in CA, TX, etc. We even had a request from a tiny military base on an island between Hawaii and Japan. Michigan beer gets a ton of love and respect around the country and world!

BBA: Be honest, how much beer was consumed on this trip? Any favorites?

KRA lot? Kuhnhenn's DRIPA was pretty mind-blowing. Right Brain's big head stout was notable. Greenbush's Brother Benjamin became a team favorite and 

BBA: Larry Bell is elusive with media requests, the BBA tried to contact him before our SW Michigan beer trip with no response, did you randomly run into him during the Eccentric celebration, or was that planned?

KRTotally random. I wasn't planning on shooting at Eccentric day, but we decided to last minute. Then Laura wanted to introduce me to Larry and I wasn't prepared… he just did what he does. 

BBA: Meeting Trevor from PawPaw Brewing and Wiggs from Dark Horse were the highlights of our trip.  Can you tell them the BBA says hi next time you see them?


Upcoming screening of The Michigan Beer Film:

April 29 Ore Dock Brewing Marquette, MI

June 12 National Homebrewer's Conference, Wealthy Theater.  Grand Rapids, MI

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