Oddly, if you look at the volume of work poured out of Hollywood, you’ll find few films that delve into the subject of beer. Sure, there are Beer Fest and Strange Brew, but that’s really all the world of cinema has to say on the subject. On TV, all you’ll find are some cancelled reality shows. On the next entertainment frontier, online services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, you’ll find a few programs dedicated to tasting and rating beer.
This gap in scripted entertainment about the world’s third-favorite beverage did not go unnoticed by Mason Boudreau and Alex Horton, founders of Gradient Pictures here in Jacksonville. And so, the YouTube show Craft began.
“We’ve always had a connection with beer,” Boudreau said over a few cold ones. “And then finding a central location to shoot like [the soon-to-open] Bottlenose Brewery was cool. Beer ties in because it is a craft just like acting, directing or writing.”
Three times a week, the series releases short episodes, three to five minutes. The plan is to produce 72 episodes in its first season over the next six months.
“This is the first web-series of its kind for both frequency, structure and branding,” explained Boudreau. “Jokes build up over time in the series. You may not get a joke at first, but in later episodes, the set-up will pay off. We also wanted to weave Bottlenose into the story. While it’s still a scripted show, we want to sort of tell their story, too.”
The show follows Gene, the owner of a brewery who’s in a time of crisis. His wife and daughter have left and he’s forced to sell to Owen, a financier more interested in being able to tell his friends he owns a brewery than actually making good beer. The first week, we’re introduced to two characters Owen hires to help with the brewery: Samantha, a clueless lesbian bartender and Raul (pronounced Rawl), a pompous young brewer over-confident in his abilities.
In many ways, the plot follows the conflict of old vs. young. Gene is old-school in his thinking that beer shouldn’t be fancy and it should speak for itself. The younger staffers push to follow beer trends. One example: Raul tries to learn to make Gene’s beer on his own, instead of how Gene wants him to learn.
“Sooner or later, they’re going to have to collaborate,” Horton said of the contentious relationship between Gene and Raul. “Right now, they sort of see each other as the enemy. But that’s not true–they both want the same thing. It’s when they realize that that things will start coming together.”
Bringing Jacksonville into the show is also part of the equation.
“There’s an episode about the new I-95/JTB exit,” said Boudreau. “Another one of the reasons craft beer appealed to us is that it is becoming Jacksonvillian. Jacksonville and craft beer are almost becoming synonymous. We want to appeal to a national audience, but having those Jacksonville references maintains our roots.”
Watch Craft at youtube.com/channel/UCE3kIHiDgGPwyUlZ80DxP7A/.