"My name really is Michael Jackson, but I don't sing, I don't dance, and I don't drink Pepsi." So begins each episode of The Beer Hunter, the television series starring Michael Jackson. The other Michael Jackson. But who was Michael, and how did he inspire a worldwide revolution?
Beer Hunter: The Movie is a documentary film about the British journalist and author Michael Jackson, who's books and television series about beer inspired the global phenomenon that is the craft brewing renaissance. An intimate portrait based on over 60 hours of rare, recent video footage, Beer Hunter sheds insight into the life and contributions of this brilliant and beloved man, who, while quietly battling Parkinson's, became the leading voice and inspiration behind the craft brewing movement. For those who had ever met Michael Jackson, or were deeply inspired by his work, it's hard to imagine that he is no longer with us.
Based on the huge success of his books and magazine articles about beer, Michael wrote and starred in a six-part television series, called The Beer Hunter, which was released in 1989 by Channel 4 in the UK, and aired in the early 90's on the Discovery Channel in the U.S. While the show became an instant classic and has since aired in over 30 different countries, Michael was never able to get another episode produced before he passed away suddenly in 2007. Now, with the help of the international craft beer community, we can produce another beer hunting adventure in his honor.
Beer Hunter: The Movie is our attempt to follow up the original Beer Hunter series with a rare library of more recent footage, showing Michael on - and "off" camera throughout the great beer cities, breweries, and pubs of Europe and the United States. The footage will form the basis of a movie about Michael's life, with the remaining footage edited into a series to be released as an open-source public resource. The unprecedented growth and popularity of craft brewing and distilling, and the ever-expanding field of beer and whisky writing, would never have been possible without Michael's ground-breaking efforts and uniquely engaging voice. It's important that we tell his story and recognize his contributions before his memory fades.
Michael especially inspired renewed interest in the creative and complex beers of Belgium. In honor of that, and as a tribute to his inspiration, the Beer Hunter movie will incorporate never-before-seen footage of five young American brewers, who in 2006, led by Sam Calagione and the Italian beer expert Lorenzo Dabove, (and also featuring Rob Todd of Allagash Brewing, Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River, Tomme Arthur from The Lost Abbey, and Adam Avery from Avery Brewing) visited the inspirational mecca of Belgium on a trip they dubbed "Belge-a-palooza."
For the past three years, through many hours of donated time, and with the generous support of a few sponsors, we have put together the basis of a film from our existing library of recent beer-hunting footage. News of the film, as well as the trailer, leaked out very early on in production, and there are now thousands of people around the world eagerly awaiting its release. While a bit premature, it's testament to Michael's influence. We have potential screenings set up on virtually every continent, and it is our hope that all screenings will be fund-raisers for Parkinson's organizations. Though we have momentum, we have exhausted our personal resources, and need some outside help to see this project to completion. We are hoping the craft brewing community can come together to help us finish this tribute to Michael, and in the process help raise a lot of money for Parkinson's research.
We are seeking funding to accomplish the following goals:
1. Gather current interviews from leading brewers, distillers, and writers telling Michael's story, how he influenced them, and their personal view on the evolution of craft brewing and distilling.
2. Pay for a soundtrack, graphics, post-production, and global distribution.
3. Edit a series from the all footage not used in the film, to be included on a special collector's edition DVD for die-hard fans (check our rewards!).
4. Create a public archive from the entire library of footage used to produce the documentary. This will be submitted to the existing Micheal Jackson Collection archive at Oxford-Brookes University, in London.
5. Set up the non-profit Michael Jackson Memorial Foundation, with the goal of organizing annual fund-raising events in Michael's memory, with proceeds to benefit Parkinson's Research.
CAN WE EXCEED OUR GOAL?
Although $30,000 seems like a lot of money, it will barely accomplish the goals listed above. As always, the production team will be donating most of their time and effort, but film production can be surprisingly expensive, especially at this stage. Legal and copyright expenses, insurance, post-production, music, distribution, and marketing add up very quickly. Most documentaries of this scope can easily exceed $200,000 in total production costs. But by calling on favors, self-distributing, and using the beer community to market the film, we can substantially reduce our costs and finish the film on time. If we exceed our goal, we will be able to license archival footage, specifically footage from the original Beer Hunter TV series, which will not be possible within our current goal. Simply put, the more money we raise, the better this film will be, and the more people that will be able to see it and appreciate Michael's life and work.
MORE ABOUT MICHAEL
In 1977, British news journalist Michael Jackson published a groundbreaking book called The World Guide to Beer. It was the first time someone had attempted to categorize every known style of beer in the world, and the book inspired a revolution of sorts. People started talking about beer with the same respect previously granted only to wine. Michael's books and writing introduced brewers and beer enthusiasts to a whole new world of beer styles, particularly the great beers of Belgium. His writing was particularly well-received in the United States, where he quickly became the Godfather of the American microbrewing movement. But Michael didn't just write about beer, he wrote about people, and was fascinated by the story of the brewers behind the beer as much as he was the beer. It was this approach, combined with his uniquely engaging style of writing, that made him the world's most beloved and influential beer writer. He also became the world's most successful writer on the subject of distilled malt beverages, and his books on whiskey have sold more copies than even his books about beer.
Michael's sudden passing on August 27th, 2007, at the age of 64, rocked the beer world. The Godfather was gone.
MORE ABOUT THE FILM
I started shooting video tastings with Michael in 2003 for the Rare Beer Club. But as we traveled to various tastings and events, and witnessed the rock-star status to which Michael was treated by the craft brewing community, the project quickly took on a greater scope. For the next three years, I followed Michael around Europe and the U.S. on what was ostensibly going to be a documentary, or even another Beer Hunter series. Most of the footage I shot by myself, on the fly, although towards the end I was fortunate enough to have audio and lighting help from my good friend Clarke Paschall. In all, we gathered over 60 hrs. of rare footage of Michael in Ireland, England, the Czech Republic, Paris, Belgium, and throughout the U.S. But no sooner had the project begun, than Michael's health started to fail. In 2006, he suffered a heart attack, after which it was revealed that he was suffering from Parkinson's disease, a fact he had kept secret from even his closest friends and colleagues for over a decade. But, in typically self-deprecating fashion, Michael embarked on his final book, entitled "I'm Not Drunk", a humorous account about being a famous drinks writer suffering from Parkinson's.
On August 27th, 2007, however, the sad news of his sudden passing rocked the beer world. The Father of the craft brewing Renaissance was gone.
Over the past three years I have gone through my existing footage, logged everything, released short segments for our Facebook and YouTube subscribers, and gotten together the basic story of the film. Our Kickstarter funding will go towards adding new interviews from leading brewers to the existing footage, purchasing a soundtrack, and will hopefully cover most of post-production. At that point we plan on self-distributing the film, primarily through the craft beer community network. We'd like to launch the film on August 27th, 2012, on the anniversary of Michael's passing, so we have a lot of work to do. We are also planning on having the World Premier in conjunction with the 2012 GABF, which is currently the largest gathering of craft enthusiasts on the planet.
We can't possibly tell all of Michael's story, but we hope that, by establishing an annual event in his memory, we can continue to carry his spirit. He was the pioneer that opened up a new frontier for so many in the craft beer industry. Incidentally, Michael hated that word - industry - when speaking of craft beer. My apologies for lack of a better synonym.And, we want your content! If you have photos, videos, stories, anything related to Michael and his role as an inspiration to you, send it along. Go to our website (www.beerhuntermovie.com) for contact info.
I am hopeful that we can reach our fairly modest goal. Whatever the outcome, I am resolved to see that this project reaches the eyes, ears, and hearts of those who will appreciate it. Thank you in advance for your support, your donation, and for helping spread the word. It's the least, and the best, that we can do for Michael in his memory.
- (30 days)