Writing, directing, shooting, funding, producing… dozens of pieces have to come together just right to create an engaging documentary film. All of the pieces seemed to have lined up well for the mini-documentary Brew Love as it takes viewers on a 6 minute journey into BC’s craft beer industry.
Before we dig into the film itself, let’s backtrack and look into the pieces that had to come together in order to put the idea of Brew Love in motion.
The man behind the film is Jeremy Dyson.
I’m sure that Jeremy’s first beer wasn’t the bitter draught that he shared with his dad in England when he was 20. He does, however, point to that moment in time as the factor that first peaked his interest in different styles of beer.
Jeremy remember’s chatting with his father that day and his Dad (an English ex-pat) telling him about his University days drinking English Milds.
Not long after, Jeremy flew back to Canada to attend post-secondary himself at the University of British Columbia and it was then that he discovered his first Canadian craft beer. He found Shaftebury Cream Ale on tap and his eyes were opened to domestic alternatives outside of the macro-brews.
As the years went on Jeremy made a point of trying most of the locally brewed beers available at the time; Vancouver Island, Granville Island, Storm, Russell…
Jeremy says, “While the pace didn’t pick up in readily available local beer until about 2008, I found that by 2013 (the year I pitched Brew Love) I almost took the blossoming scene for granted.”
That’s a statement that many of us can relate to if you take the time to think about how quickly the craft beer industry has grown in recent years. It seems to have evolved so rapidly that we almost forget the days not so long ago that it couldn’t be expected to see craft beer on the shelves of any neighbourhood beer store.
While the craft beer situation as a whole was growing to a point of making “Brew Love” a viable project, Jeremy was growing his own skills in film making.
The Film Making Side of Things
Film wasn’t the focus of his official studies at UBC, instead he was picking up the skills and experience on the side. Jeremy served for 2 years as the treasurer for the UBC Film Society. He was also close friends with an ‘official’ film student and together they would go on to found a video production company while still students. Their main client was UBC themselves.
It was that production company that proved to be the entity that would produce the first feature film that Jeremy worked on. Check out Jeremy Dyson’s IMDB page if you’re interested in his past projects.
At this point, film and craft beer were yet to merge. Both were still developing… As the craft beer scene was gaining momentum in BC, Jeremy was building on his skills as a filmmaker.
We’ll jump ahead a bit now to where Jeremy first caught wind of the program that would eventually provide the funding for Brew Love.
Storyhive is a program put out by Telus that helps local talent create short films and documentaries. This particular program caught Jeremy’s eye for a couple reasons…
1} There was a component that asked how the proposed projects would be of interest to the people of BC
2) There was a social media/voting aspect that would influence how the funding would be distributed
Jeremy knew he wanted to be a part of that project, but, he didn’t have a subject yet.
Enter craft beer!
One night while out for a few pints with friends he found the answer on the table right in front of him. The light bulb went off and the idea of Brew Love had begun. In the days that followed Jeremy would poll people around the community to gauge their interest and the interest was clear. Nobody seemed to know where BC’s craft beer industry started and they were eager for more info.
The pitch was made to Storyhive which was a process in itself. The application process combined with the voting stage took several months before decisions were made. In the end Brew Love became one of six projects that were given the green light to start production.
Jeremy didn’t just jump into shooting, instead he took his time to get all his facts straight and build relationships within the craft beer industry. He built Twitter lists, joined CAMRA BC, attended the BC Beer Awards and made a habit of getting out and talking to people at tasting rooms and pubs.
Through his initial research Jeremy was impressed with what he saw, “I found it really amazing how open people were to sharing information”. He also noticed the unique ways that industry insiders connected with each other, Jeremy says, “there is a camaraderie instead of an adversarial approach to business”.
That camaraderie became quite apparent to Jeremy when he was doing research at Black Kettle Brewery near his home in North Vancouver. One of the guys he met there was doing some research himself. The man that Jeremy met was helping out for the day as he learned some tools of the trade in preparation for opening his own brewery the following year. Jeremy knew right away that he had found an element of the craft beer industry that had to be included in the documentary.
It’s Time to Shoot
When Jeremy was ready shooting began. Shooting the film took around 8 months by the calendar, but, there were breaks within that as work priorities took precedence.
While shooting took place the craft beer scene in BC was growing at a break-neck-pace. When Jeremy moved to North Vancouver in 2011 there weren’t any breweries in the city, but two new breweries opened during production of Brew Love. Those two breweries have now doubled to four North Van breweries.
As the craft beer market was rocketing off to new heights, Jeremy took his time with shooting the interviews for the film. He worked closely with his editor Alec Macneill-Richardson who is an accomplished Lifestyle TV editor.
In between series that Alec was working on he would find the time to cut for Brew Love. Together Alec and Jeremy would evaluate the material that they had every few months and consider what types of footage would enhance what they already had.
The craft beer community continued to help Jeremy along the way, whether it was meeting up with new brewers or getting in touch with BC craft beer pioneers. Jeremy thanks Howe Sound Brewing for getting him in touch with John Mitchell one of the founders of Horseshoe Bay Brewing that started it all back in 1982. John was able to supply some great historic pictures for the film (1:08) and that authenticity really adds to the documentary as a whole.
The premiere screening of Brew Love took place during “The Business of Craft Beer” show. Not to be out done the craft beer industry continued to grow with Main Street Brewing opening during (yes, during) the screening of Brew Love. Later in the night Jeremy headed up to Main Street Brewery to check it out first hand along with the couple behind Gladstone Brewing in Comox.
With the successful production of Brew Love I asked Jeremy what he might be working on next. He doesn’t offer any guarantees, but, he does have another film brewing in his mind. Craft spirits are growing in popularity with a number of BC breweries also having craft distilleries in production and Jeremy is eyeing up the possibility of a follow-up to Brew Love that takes a look at the craft spirits industry as it starts to gain traction in BC.
For now Jeremy is enjoying life in North Vancouver with his wife Kimberly, son Jack (5) and daughter Ava (1).
He has been promoting local Black Kettle and Green Leaf beer to all of his neighbours, but now another neighbour of his, Aaron Jonckheere is gearing up to open Strangefellows Brewing in Septmeber 2014. Jeremy plans on being at the brewery the first day it opens.
Jeremy can be reached via Twitter @jeremydyson. Follow him and pass on any recommendations you might have for great sessionable beers.