Could something as basic as beer start a revolution, spur the economy, and revitalize America?
It seems so.
In the upcoming feature documentary, Blood, Sweat, and Beer, filmmakers Alexis Irvin and Chip Hiden explore the explosive growth of the craft beer industry and the dramatic journeys behind two start-up breweries.
Let me start by saying, I’m not actually a beer lover. In fact, I don’t like it much at all. So why did I back the Blood, Sweat, and Beer Kickstarter campaign for Picture Motion’s October Filmanthropy?
Simple: to me this movie is about much more than beer. It’s about what it takes to get a start-up off the ground and the possibility of fulfilling the American Dream. At its core, this film is about entrepreneurs, the very individuals who can – and do – change the world.
Last month, Jim Clifton, the Chairman of Gallup and Author of The Coming Jobs War, released his latest book, Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder, and I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a summit led by the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. In no uncertain terms, Jim stated that “innovation won’t ‘fix America’ entrepreneurs will.”
Startling, sure. But his point made sense. Entrepreneurs create customers, and customers in turn create jobs and economic growth.
When I stumbled across the stories of Matt, Asa, and Brandon, a trio of 23-year-old entrepreneurs getting their brewery off the ground in Braddock, PA, I knew I had found a winner for this month’s Filmanthropy. For these individuals, opening a brewery wasn’t solely about quenching the thirst of the craft beer craving masses. It was about revitalizing a community and helping a once-prosperous steel town bounce back from decades of neglect and violence.
A social action campaign surrounding this film could spur engagement and create meaningful impact by leveraging consumer enthusiasm for craft beer to underscore entrepreneurship as a means to spurring the economy and revitalizing America – one community at a time.
Kim Jordan bottles beer in the basement of her home in 1991. Photograph courtesy of New Belgium (Source: Forbes 6/12/2014)
I spent my teenage years in Fort Collins, CO, home to some incredible microbreweries. Among the best? New Belgium Brewing Company, which opened in 1991 when co-founders Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch took a passion for homebrew commercial. Twenty years later, in 2011, New Belgium produced 712,800 barrels of its various labels and by 2012, it was the third-largest craft brewery and eighth-largest overall brewery in the U.S.. Today, the brewery employs 500 people and does more than $180 million in sales each year. Still a private company, New Belgium became 100 percent employee-owned last year, and unsurprisingly boasts a low annual turnover (3%).
There’s no doubt Kim and Jeff’s entrepreneurial spirit resulted in economic growth for the city.
Blood, Sweat, and Beer has the potential to inspire new entrepreneurs and galvanize local support through craft beer consumers. The filmmakers behind this documentary are no strangers to grassroots campaigns – or entrepreneurship for that matter – either. Their first film, The Dream Share Project, helped ignite passion across the U.S. as the duo toured over 180 colleges to talk with students about how to make a living doing what you love, through their Chase Your Dream! curriculum.
In a similar nature, a screening tour for Blood, Sweat, and Beer could be deployed in towns across America, especially in places like Braddock, PA, where new entrepreneurs or a start-up brewery could really make a difference to the vitality of the community. The campaign could partner with likely allies, such as The Beer Institute and the Brewers Association, and screen at the Great American Beer Festival. They could also harness the social action element and expand their audience by teaming up with local incubators in cities across the country to host discussions about start-ups, financing, and entrepreneurship.
A sponsoring company could even potentially underwrite a tour across America with Pop-Up Shops constructed of shipping containers, featuring local craft beer homebrewers and microbreweries; coupled with screenings throughout the day and performances by local musicians. The purpose of these Pop-Ups would be to
bring the community together and celebrate the art of craft beer. A tour such as this could jump start the revolution, inspire entrepreneurship, spur the economy, and ultimately – revitalize America.
Blood, Sweat, and Beer is 5 days and $2,000 away from meeting their goal. Can you pitch in today and help make this feature documentary reality? It promises to take viewers beyond the pint to meet the brewers revitalizing America, one mug at a time.
Heidi Nel, Principal – Washington DC, @HeidiNel
As a Principal at Picture Motion, she oversees the DC office and plays a leading role in business development, campaign management and strategic initiatives. Prior to joining Picture Motion, Heidi served as Senior Vice President of Digital at FitzGibbon Media where she created social action campaigns that leveraged technology and storytelling to shape policy and create cultural change.