Filmmaking, Writing, Beer, Insularity, History, and Other Topics More-Or-Less Related to “Beer Wars,” Part 2

Part 1 --- Part 2 --- Part 3 --- Part 4 --- Part 5 --- Part 6 --- Part 7 Part 8 --- Part 9 --- Part 10 --- Part 11 --- Part 12 --- Part 13

NOTE: When I moved to a new site, this "Beer Wars" series was mangled/destroyed during the move. I've reconstructed it by copying/pasting another copy of the original posts. I also lost the comments in their original form. I've copied/pasted the comments, but had to do so under my own name. So although it looks as though I'm the only commenter, I'm not. In each case, I've identified the original commenter.


 Fast forward to early 2009: Anat had finished the film. The economy was in freefall; it was (and is) harder than ever for indie filmmakers to find distribution, but Anat, being Anat, came up with a plan: She partnered with Fathom Events to show the film one night in theaters. (Fathom has developed a successful business screening such special events.) 

The film would be followed by a half-hour live discussion by some of the people in the film. She asked me to participate in that discussion because I’m a historian, not a beer person, and therefore I’d add an outsider’s perspective.

Anat’s production company, her publicity firm, and Fathom began promoting the film: They used a website, Anat tweeted, publicists sent out press releases, etc.

The blogosphere chatter began. And sailed along a predictable trajectory: the “beer geeks” pissed and moaned about how this film was no good, the idea was old, there is no “beer war.” 

“Rhonda Kallman is in the film? Why? She’s not a craft brewer!”

“Who the hell is Anat Baron? She’s not a beermaker. How can SHE know anything about beer?” 

“Sam’s in it. That’s good. But why not other craft-gods? And who cares about distributors? That battle is over! Why bother to make a film about it?”


The pre-release chatter consisted of mindless knee-jerking on the part of people who claim they want “craft beer” to be noticed, loved, and consumed, but who are, at the same time, irrationally dedicated to denouncing anything and everything that does not fit their vision of what craft beer is and how it ought to be portrayed (and revered and adored.)

They complained about the price of admission, about the fact that it was one night only, about the fact that only 400-s0me theaters would be airing the film. (The event was broadcast via satellite; not every theater is equipped with satellite streaming equipment; therefore not every theater could show the film.)

Even the fact that Anat was promoting the film pissed people off: They complained about the overdose of press releases, emails, etc. They seemed not to realize that the “beer world” was not Anat’s only target. She wanted anyone and everyone to see the film. So of course she launched a PR blitz: she’s trying to fill seats in a theater.

But beer folks see the world through their prism and they didn’t understand that this was a film first, and only a beer film secondarily. Anat didn’t make the film for the beer world. She made the film because she was trying to explore and make sense of the logic of capitalism. Beer simply provided a lens through which to examine the topic. (I understood that intuitively: My book about beer was a work of  history that explored one aspect of American society. I used beer as the vehicle for that exploration.)

Next: The nature of “group think” and the creative process.