One of the unique challenges I grapple with on a daily basis in the making of this film is, "what to do with all the footage?" I have always found it difficult to pick just one direction; I suffer from the curse of options. Do I make a 90 minute film, or another whole series? Do I make a multi-series film that incorporates much of the footage plus interviews with brewers to tell the story of Michael? In the back of my mind, I've always wanted to do both. On the one hand, the film would chronicle the fascinating story of Michael: his background as a news journalist, his transition to beer journalist, his fame within the world of whiskey writing, his vast interests beyond food and drink, his profound contributions towards the evolution of craft brewing, his desire to keep his Parkinson's a secret, his tireless dedication to educating the faithful on the rich history and traditions of the brewing culture. Then there's the series: the off-camera banter, the intimate moments on the road, the long tastings that may not be fit for the big screen, the diverse destinations we traveled to, the man behind the myth.
I'm still working that all out. The other day I was speaking with St. Louis beer distributor and importer Brent Stafford, who has been extremely helpful in suggesting ideas on how to raise sponsorship and promote the film. It's good to have an outside voice; I've been wrangling with this project for almost three years, and sometimes being so close you can lose perspective on simplicity.
Brent was patient as I described the various options. At one point he stopped me and said, "Why don't you put together some of the extra footage and call it the "Lost Tapes" series or something?
A brilliant suggestion. So here is the first installment of the Lost Tapes. I've been going through some of my footage from California, since it's not far from where I live and a natural place to start filming some initial interviews for the movie. This is from Michael's visit to Pizza Port Brewing back in April of 2004, in Solana Beach, just outside of San Diego. It was at the conclusion of a tour through California which started in San Francisco and ended in San Diego, where Michael was to judge at the World Beer cup. The Rare Beer Club had included two of Tomme Arthur's beers, the outstanding Cuvee de Tomme and SPF 8. Michael, and everyone for that matter, loved the beers, and was very keen to interview Tomme. While the footage wasn't to be used for the club, then-owner Rob Imeson thought it would be good to get the interview for posterity. It was this philosophy that is responsible for the bulk of the footage we know have of Michael in his later years.
Enjoy, and cheers for watching.
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