This Time in History

logo-for-frontTiming is everything and good location a plus. When I first met Jesse Brödd and Jason Sowards to talk about video and beer, they were just about to implement their plans for a tap room in the back of the garage at Harriet Brewing Company. Back then, I was working at the VA, down by Minnehaha Falls and the airport. The brewery was close by and I could easily  stop by once a week, on my way home or during lunch, to shoot video of the build out of the new tap room.

Harriet was the first to sign on to the project. It was an auspicious start because immediately I had a chance to capture video of a brewery adding a tap room. The tap room time progression sequence was a critical visual counterpart to the narratives about tap rooms and the reform that made them legal in January 2012. That it became possible during the first meeting with brewers interested in joining the documentary was serendipitous timing. It set the pace and planted the seed.

Later that Spring, talking with Rob Miller and Sarah Bon Vallet it became clear that we had an opportunity to make a time progression sequence of the installation of the entire brewery at Dangerous Man. I thought back to my discussions with Joe Pond from Olvalde Farm. Particularly the distinctions he draws between his agricultural approach and the industrial models followed by most other breweries. I wanted to balance the focus on growth in the beer industry with the agricultural aspects of the ingredients. The barley field time progression sequence shot from late Spring until early Fall 2012 at Olvalde Farm was the visual complement to the urban/industrial sequences of tap room and brewery growth at Harriet and DMBC. It would not have been possible without Carlus Dingfelder, Joe’s father in law. Video of hops would come later. At Hippity Hops Farm with Matt Hall from Lift Bridge.


Everything is about time in Crafted to Last. The narratives, the images, the music. Place is important, but it kind of took care of itself. The documentary is about Minnesota because it was made here, many of the people in the film were born here, and some have deep family roots in the state. The film is about a specific time in Minnesota beer brewing history and the industry was expanding very quickly at that time. The 3 time progression sequences and many time lapse segments were used to visually evoke the fast moving MN beer scene while the movie was being made. We shot time lapse at these locations: The Brew Day Time Lapse with Greg Smith at Leech Lake, Rob Miller at Dangerous Man, Waxing Old Friend at Indeed,  various Art Hangings and Tap Room Opening at Harriet, and tank delivery at Northbound.

Because beer is so closely tied to human history and nostalgia, it was important to couch the current era in historical context. Prohibition, consolidation, the craft beer movement, regulatory reform, and a renewed interest in local businesses all of these contributed to the cultural and economic context in which Minnesota beer began to blossom in 2012.

When Ted Marti from August Schell’s Brewery agreed to participate, we welcomed his unparalleled historical perspective. The narratives of the Hoops brothers with their cohorts Tim Nelson (Fitger’s Brewhouse) and Pete Rifakes (Town Hall Brewery), provided a more recent focus on locally brewed beer, brew pubs and growing a community of craft beer drinkers in Duluth, MN. Personal and neighborhood histories intersect for Bob Nihart (Reads Landing Brewing Co.), the brew pub, and the town of Reads Landing. These were the historical context in which the film portrays the expansion of the brewing sector from January 2012 forward.

The drawing above is one of the first renditions of the complete film in any tangible medium. The written out  colors refer to the code for identifying clip content in the editing software. It shows a twisted flower blooming from a seed that has been nurtured by laws, culture, water, dollars and effort. The bloom is upside down in the lower left corner and the seed in the upper left. To the right are those things that feed the transformation of the seed into the flower. In the film there are many different seeds and at least as many blooms. The seed of home brewing for each featured brewer and the flush of new breweries, for example. The sub-title of the film came out of this drawing. Minnesota beer blossoms.

The video diary clip celebrates one of the first milestones in making the film. I had shot conversations at the first 4 breweries and was planning shoots at 4 more. At the time I recorded this commentary, 8 breweries was the upper bound for the film because I was still planning to include people from other businesses that had been positively impacted by the expansion of brewing. On camera I’m talking about the transformation of my beer cellar from foreign to Minnesotan. Off camera I’m drawing pictures of seeds transforming into flowers using elements coded for types of video content. On location we were capturing that time in Minnesota brewing.

Right now you can watch my home brewed film and drink Minnesota beer at a location near or far during the CTL Film Tour 2015.


One Commentto This Time in History

  1. […] I met Paul when he was at Harriet Brewing and I was visiting every week during lunch to make the tap room time progression in 2012. In many ways he was my first real connection to the MN brewing community. Paul introduced […]