Beer and Pavement

Indie-Craft Interview #4: Bob Hartzell

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on May 3, 2012

Bob Hartzell found me over a year ago, offering me an Archers of Loaf poster he printed back in the nineties. Since those halcyon days of yester-decades, he’s made quite a nice niche for himself in the Midwestern art scene with his Augratin Press. It’s nice to see the posters he creates for shows here, but his other projects are cool as well. Bob agreed to share some thoughts for yet another edition of the Indie-Craft interview series

1. Describe your craft(s).
I make things. I am mostly a silkscreener but I have been doing more light sculptures now that people are buying them. I also do as much community based work as I can because it is the most rewarding.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
It helps hold of the eventual moment when I start to suck.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
I think my community-based work encourages people to do creative things outside self-ordained, artistic environments. Other than that, my craft contributes nothing to society.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
Furniture and Architecture as well as broken things.

5. What is your dream of success?
I am lucky to have done what I have. If it all goes down from here, I should still consider my self fortunate, but I will probably complain anyway.

Bob’s work can be found via Facebook or his website.

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Indie-Craft Interview #3: Kim Sherman

Posted in Film, Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on May 2, 2012

Kim Sherman is a really busy person. So busy that I thought for sure she’d never get around to this “interview.” Not only did Kim prove me wrong, but she went above and beyond the call of duty by contributing the many interesting bits of information you find below the picture I lifted from her Facebook profile. There’s indie filmmaking and indie rock-making she does, filling every open slot on her calendar. She used to head the music scheduling at True/False before returning this year with both a film to screen (V/H/S) and busking gigs for her band, Jerusalem and the Starbaskets, to fulfill.

Speaking of True/False, it was suggested that Kim was the real story of this year’s fest. How often does someone go from volunteering/working for a major film festival to a contributing filmmaker? This doesn’t even mention Jerusalem and the Starbaskets’ thrilling set at one of the fest’s showcases following a year where the band found some well-deserved acclaim for their album, Dost. In other words, Kim is a big part of the best thing that happens in Middle Missouri.

All of this makes Kim Sherman an ideal subject for the Indie-Craft Interview series… 

1. Describe your craft(s).
I am an independent filmmaker and the drummer for Jerusalem and the Starbaskets. My day job is producing for feature films. In independent cinema, this usually involves being pretty hands on in all aspects of the creation of a film. My role and job shape shift a bit, depending on the project and my relationship with the project’s director. For some director’s, I deal more with the practical aspects of the project. Things like hiring cast and crew, working with unions, securing permission for locations. Really, the things no one likes to do on a film set. For other director’s, I work in a more collaborative sense, and help guide the story with them. In either case, I work very hard to make sure the director has everything they need to tell the story, and that they have the space and freedom to insert their voice in that story. If the audience takes something away from the film, hopefully a strong emotional or academic response, and the director feels like people really understand what they were trying to convey, I feel like I did a good job. Though, it helps when the film sells and everyone involved makes money.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?
Choosing Independent Filmmaking was really easy for me, being from the Midwest. I wasn’t exposed to studios, early on, and I never really dreamed of working for a studio. Though, I respect that the industry needs both halves to survive. Some of my favorite films came out of studios. I know that “independent film” meant something different in the 90’s, when that meant a film cost less than $3 million. Now there is a much wider range for independent financing, so films are made for under 10K pretty regularly and with great success. Technology and talent are available in abundance at all levels of that financial spectrum. So for me, the biggest reason for staying in the Independent realm, is simply being able to work on stories that I find interesting, that I feel are important, and that maybe break the rules a bit.

I still want all the world to see my work, and that is certainly easier to achieve in the studio system. But the more overhead a film is associated with, the more money it has to make just to break even. The more money a film has to make, the more creative decisions are made solely on that point. The more a film compromises just to make money, the more contained the vision becomes. Its hard to do something different when you are only thinking about the people that are happy to see the same story over and over again. As a filmmaker and an audience member, I want to see stories that are maybe dirtier, darker, and that challenge the way life is portrayed on television and in theaters.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
Independent Filmmaking, as I stated, can allow for more freedom of storytelling. The actual filmmaking process has become more accessible to more people, which opens the medium up for interpretations by various cultures. The idea is that independent film and audiences will gravitate towards stories that haven’t been told and recycled a million times over.

Until recently, I had been working mostly in horror films. I was fortunate to work with a few friends that know the genre very deeply, and wanted to see the old conventions given new life. They developed stories with a woman as the central protagonists. The women in these films survive where others would break. I really loved this element. I recognize that Horror is an inherently sexist genre, but I do see more and more audiences growing tired of watching women mercilessly tortured. There is a trend towards women overcoming the demons, serial killers, mutant rapists, and abusive spouses from another planet, and not just because they are pure and virginal. Horror, like sci-fi and other genre work, is a great way to point out the evils of society and hopefully make a path to the solution of these evils.

More recently, I have been involved with dramas that feature women on the verge of falling out of society. Caught between their crimes and the reality of the punishment, I ran towards these stories for their polarizing central characters. This is an idea that had been reserved for male characters, with women playing sidekick and savior. I love being a part of something that provides strong and challenging roles for women.

Beyond just women too, I hope to always work on films that push forward groups that would otherwise be marginalized in film, on and off the screen. Hopefully these stories won’t seem so fringe, in the very near future. In this way, I feel like my craft contributes to society.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
Several times a year, I record and tour with my bandmates, Jeremy Freeze and John Garland, as the drummer for Jerusalem and the Starbaskets. My bandmates are like family, and I very sincerely love the music we make. I’ll sometimes blush when I hear it playing in Uprise or other public spaces, but I really do love listening to our albums always. Jeremy Freeze is one of my favorite songwriters, and I never get sick of listening to his voice and lyrics.

When I work on films, I spend a lot of time on my computer. I have a hard time concentrating if I’m not listening to music. It’s better for my brain than coffee even.

Recently, Jeremy and John contributed music to a film I produced. For me, it was the start of something I have been working up to. I want to combine my two loves, film and music. I am currently co-writing a film with Jeremy, that we are hoping to make late in 2013.

5. What is your dream of success?
I have more immediate goals for success, that include sustainability. It’s hard for people in my profession to balance time and money. It’s especially hard when you work in micro-budget independent films. Long term, I am starting to get back to directing, and it is my hope that I can find a successful balance between directing, producing, and drumming. If I can do this, live comfortably off of the things I have dedicated my life to, and still be there for my friends and community, I will feel like a huge success.

If you get a chance, check out Kim’s work. V/H/S hits On Demand and theaters this fall. Dost is available in exchange for your dollars. And I’m sure Kim has something else up her sleeve in the meantime.

[Full disclosure: Kim is the only person to ever call me a journalist. This can be both good and bad. Make of it what you will.]

 

Indie-Craft Interview #2: Patric Chocolate’s Alan McClure

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on April 19, 2012

This blog focuses on the intersection of indie rock, craft beer, and other independent and/or artisanal industries. I’ve tried to raise awareness of indie and craft industries while defining what constitutes “indie” and “craft” as best I can. The idea of indie-craft has been bouncing around in my skull for a while. However, it’s been tough for me to pinpoint what I want to say about it. With the indie-craft interview series, I’d like to get the perspective of those who actually produce all these great consumables and share those thoughts here.

Alan Patric McClure is one of a small handful of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the entire US. His Patric Chocolate brand has won a couple of Good Food Awards and gets mentioned in foodie rags often. His cocoa nibs are used in beers by Jolly Pumpkin and Deep Ellum Brewing Company as well as available from Northern Brewer, a popular homebrew supply store.

Over the last couple years, I’ve shared a few good beers, a discussion of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Aeroplane Over the Sea, and a Berkshire hog with Alan. Today, he shares his thoughts on indie-craft.

1. Describe your craft(s).

I make chocolate from bean to bar. It involves sourcing properly grown, fermented and dried cocoa beans with interesting and delicious flavor notes and helping them to shine, while creating additional pleasant flavors via roasting, refining and conching. We then mold and package the finished chocolate bar. From beginning to end, this entire process, from sourcing to finished bar, takes months.

 2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?

I believe that a craft producer can grow to be quite large, while still being independent (i.e. not controlled by the public). I also believe that being independent allows for greater creativity, though independent companies don’t always innovate.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?

Good chocolate makes people happy, feeding their sense of wellbeing, while also literally feeding them. It is good to be a part of both processes.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?

Spirits, beer, cheese, bread, charcuterie, and pickles.

5. What is your dream of success?

I don’t know. It changes all the time. I suppose that all versions include external appreciation for the chocolate that we make, and continued existence. Earning a living wage wouldn’t be half bad either.

Alan’s chocolate has ruined all other chocolate for me. It’s that good. His chocolate is responsible for my chocolate epiphany the same way Stone’s Ruination IPA was a beer epiphany or Nirvana’s Nevermind changed music for me forever. Don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself and buy his fine, artisanal chocolate here.

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Indie-Craft Interview #1: Stillwater’s Brian Strumke

Posted in Beer, Indie-Craft, Interview by SM on April 17, 2012

This blog focuses on the intersection of indie rock, craft beer, and other independent and/or artisinal industries. I’ve tried to raise awareness of indie and craft industries while defining what constitutes “indie” and “craft” as best I can. The idea of indie-craft has been bouncing around in my skull for a while. However, it’s been tough for me to pinpoint what I want to say about it. With the indie-craft interview series, I’d like to get the perspective of those who actually produce all these great consumables and share those thoughts here.

Brian Strumke is the gypsie brewer who produces the delectable Stillwater Artisanal Ales in his hometown of Baltimore as well as in various breweries around Europe. His take on the Saison has been a real kick to the craft beer scene, challenging convention while creating a great deal of success for himself. It’s been a quick rise to the top of the craft beer universe for Stillwater as Brian has reached the top of many lists, is in the process of establishing his own pub, and even getting his own distribution truck wrap.

After running into Brian on a couple of occasions, I figured that I could bug him to be my first indie-craft interviewee. Luckily, he agreed. The results are below…

1. Describe your craft(s).

Artistic interpretations in the form of beer.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie?

Freedom is paramount, I am very adamant on doing things my way especially because my art is an expression of myself and maintaining the control of my art is what is most important to me.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?

Working with beer is about sharing good times with people. I produce a product that is designed for enjoyment and also use that product to make people question what beer actually is… Nothing we do is straight forward and I enjoy creating intrigue within my consumer base.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?

Anything that is backed by a good philosophy and executed well.

5. What is your dream of success?

Happiness.

If you would like to try some Stillwater Artisinal Ales, move to one of these places or petition your local distributor to bring Stillwater to your neck of the woods. If you want to see what I’ve had to say about Brian’s beers in the past, go here.

Be on the lookout for more Indie-Craft interviews. I have chocolate makers, filmmakers, music makers, and possibly more beer makers lined up (or potentially lined up) for future interviews. If you have a suggestion for someone I should badger with the five questions above, let me know.

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