Film Craft V

I bumped into Brooklyn-based writer, Steven Rinella,  and host of The Wild Within the other day and had to tell him how much I enjoyed his show. I mean, not many TV hosts have the skills to break down an entire Moose that they have stalked and shot in ten minutes of onscreen footage…or climb a highway underpass to retrieve pigeon eggs and serve ’em up over a campfire for dinner. This man, is authentic, the real-deal–a hunter, trapper and writer who tells it as it is.

The Wild Within “Everybody eats bacon, but nobody wants to stab the pig.”


Lately, along with my fishing habits, I’ve been thinking about “authenticity” in television and advertising and while I’m happy the ad-guys are at-least “on-trend”, I can’t help but think that the underdog artisan, the hunter-gatherer, the farmer, the mechanic, their voices aren’t often heard from in mainstream media. So, I figured it was time for another installment of my Film CRAFT series, where I feature American artisans keeping the spirit of “handmade” alive and well.

Rancourt Shoes  “They are second, third generation hand-sewers.”


Sea Bags  “Sailed all over the world, recycled in Maine.”


Dry Fly Distilling  “Our objective…was to get out and enjoy life.”


Liberty Vintage  “Our can-do American spirit is being lost.”


Best Made Co. “You put an axe in someone’s hand and they feel empowered.”


This last video is actually a full half hour high production value, branded documentary by Bombay Sapphire, called The Culture of Quality: The Artisan’s Journey. I’ve written about the role of branded documentaries before, and on my marketing blog, but just a reminder–the goal here is to market the product using authentic, real stories–not fictional ones, like in most story-based advertising. Product claims aren’t shouted–rather, product benefits and brand equities are placed alongside the real stories of people who use the product, fit the brand image or have similar missions, are often the subject matter. The Culture of Quality features interviews with some of the people behind bespoke brands, Barking Irons, DS&Durga, and Vosges Chocolates, as well some excellent drink preparations and gin history. It ends with a mixology contest featuring the storied gin. Damn, I’m thirsty!


Give Yourself a Gift that Gives

Its ok I tell you…its ok to give yourself a Christmas gift. Many people do. At some point in the year, you have to stop and remind yourself you care about that face in the mirror–that you want him to be happy, to grow, to be appreciated. Oh sure, you hear the TV prattle on about giving yourself the gift of time, gym memberships and crap like that, but I find the best gifts to myself are the ones that tend to pay dividends to others. A couple years ago I joined the Sierra Club. That was a gift a long time coming that lives up to a commitment I made twenty years ago…to care about my impact on the Earth and leave it better off for future generations. Last year I gave myself a month off between an old job and the new one. Not sure if my wife appreciated that one–both of us being home at the time, but I like to think she did.

When I was a kid growing up in Cleveland, my parents used to take my brothers and sisters and I to the Cleveland Arcade every Christmas.

A magnificent arcade of glass, steel and bronze (one of three great arcades on Euclid Avenue), we shopped at the toystore where ceremoniously,  I would pick out my own tin soldiers each year. I know, I know you could have Transformer or G.I. Joe action figure…but there amid the glow of christmas lights reflecting off the bronze banisers, amidst the smell of fresh popped popcorn and roasted nuts, I wanted to buy my own sharpshooter or mounted knight.

Cleveland knew how to hold onto its Christmas spirit during the “rust-belt” years better than anyone else. That’s why they could film A Christmas Story there in the mid-80s without a bit of prop or scenery. The Higbee’s that Ralph visits to sit on Santa’s lap? It was exactly the same thirty years ago, even though the film was supposed to be set in the 50s. Sadly, the old Higbee’s is to become a casino soon I hear.

Ok, enough waxing poetic, this year’s gift to myself was strictly fun and it definitely promises to provide dividends to my friends if they’re willing to wait.  Tonight I took a homebrewing class at The Brooklyn Kitchen.

Adding the malt extract to the wort
Sanitized bottles waiting patiently
Two-week old brown ale ready for bottling

I took home a couple of bottles of the last classes brew, Dirty Water Brown Ale, I think they called it. It needs two more weeks conditioning in the bottle, but I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’m thinking of making a Porter or a Winter Ale for my first attempt at homebrewing this weekend. Brooklyn Kitchen has no shortage of malts and hops which I look forward to sorting through this weekend.

Now, I also like playing “secret santa” and generally enjoy the surprise that comes with getting a gift. But how does one be one’s own “secret santa?”

I like what Partners & Spade have cooking up this weekend. Apparently pre-wrapped gifts will be available at their space Saturday from 12 – 6pm. Also on tap, goods from a great purveyor (and blogger Matthew Hranek), WM. Brown. Best Made Co. will have something there too. I’ve been dying to try WM. Brown’s charcuterie so I’m definitely stopping in. I wonder if Hranek has given thought to doing some brewing up at WM. Brown? Either way, I’ll be picking up at least one more gift for myself.