March 22, 2012

Interview: Thomas Kolicko, Director of Crafting a nation (part 2)

This is the second of a two part interview with Thomas Kolicko director of Crafting a Nation and Beer Culture the movie.

HBC: Why did you choose to make films about the beer industry?
Tom:  I grew up in New Jersey I moved here (Colorado) when I was 22 years old. Jersey doesn’t have too many craft breweries, there’s a bunch, and I follow New Jersey craft brewers on Facebook. I want to go back there and see what they have because I know their scene has been growing. The county I grew up in didn’t have a single craft brewery in it, not one. Just recently I found out that one did get founded its supposed to open up by the time I’m planning to head back, they also have a homebrew store there so the seed has been planted.
I have always loved craft beer, but in jersey you go to a bar and you see bud, Coors, miller, corona, Stella and they have Yuengling. In Colorado you see red left hands, you see red A’s, you see odells all these tap handles I hadn’t seen before the Budweiser one was the little black nub hanging out, like the bar was embarrassed to serve it. I wanted to figure out why. I took a class in documentary filmmaking and I wanted to figure out what the beer culture was and the project grew traction from there. I didn’t realize how much support people give these breweries, being a filmmaker; it was cool to see when we launched our trailer how much support we got from telling the story of these guys and I’m like “okay were on to something here, this is really cool”
Beer culture started out to be a 15-minute short project just a general overview. When we released the trailer the amount of emails we got we were like okay, the final cut was 55 minutes. What I liked about beer culture was how it transformed from a film about beer to a film about the American Dream. 
HBC: How do you define craft beer? People have lots of different definitions.
Tom: I like that question.  I always ask a question with my interviews that stumps everybody I guess this is one of those questions. You know? I would say a craft brewery is a business that is committed to improving the quality of life to a community. There’s beer aspect to this film but the story follows craft brewers but it’s really about the growth of the small business right now in America. What were trying to say is these craft breweries, these small businesses that are socially responsible, sustainable and are committed to making a quality product that in every facet will improve the quality of life in these communities. I think that’s a craft brewery.
You mentioned Widmer, you mentioned the big guys. That can be a slippery slope to go down but they all started somewhere, people go into business to make money and we live in a capitalist society. You as a consumer or people as consumers have a right to support the business you want to support. It boils down to where you want to spend your dollar, who you want to vote for with that dollar. Personally I want to vote for the little guy I want to see the little guy succeed. That’s something I believe in, it’s the reason I want to make this film.
That’s what I think a craft brewery is. A business somebody can believe in and want to see succeed as long as that business is smart, sustainable, responsible and morally conscious that’s the answer to go with.
HBC: Are you a homebrewer?
Tom: I am a homebrewer. That was one of the coolest things about making beer culture. I went from extract to all grain in like 8 months. I’m still working hard so I don’t get to brew as much. Luckily the beers I brewed over break have to age a little so I wont be bottling them until April.
HBC: How are you planning on getting the word out about the film?
Tom: Numerous different ways. Were really focusing on the growth of new media in film. It seems like the traditional system of distribution is kind of going out of the mix. Were looking into several different avenues.
Our deadline for the first final cut is December 12th with intended distribution through whatever medium around January.
What were trying to do for marketing right now is utilize the tools our web site can give us. Search engine optimization, were doing the whole webisode thing were trying to increase everything that’s new and cool. We have a bunch of avenues that are opening up I really can’t go into too much detail right now. Were going to be doing promotional events, a lot of community outreach starting out here in Denver and branching out nationally from there. Were looking to partner with a lot of small businesses, It’s getting the community involved to get the film out there.
HBC: Anything else I should have asked?
Tom: I wanted to go back to my inspiration to make the film. You talked about my passion for beer, prior to my getting involved with beer I had a job in New Jersey, the last job I had in the state. I was working for a farm to table operation prior to that I never really understood this independent part of the market. That job really gave me inspiration for how small business works, how trade works, how collaborating works. I think that was one of my main inspirations for a “return to normality” as I like to call it. 

The film will not be out for a while but there is plenty of activity on Crafting a nations Facebook page and website to keep you interested until then. Additionally, Beer Culture is out and available for download here. I want to extend a big thank you to Tom for taking the time to give me an interview I'm looking forward to checking out Crafting a Nation. 

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