We've come a long, long way.
Yesterday we dropped the 300th video episode of The Happy Hour Guys.
300 fully edited, 'have production value' episodes. That's hours, if not days of fully produced shows. And days, if not weeks, of raw footage. 12 years in the making.
How the f*ck did that happen? Well, I've always been a lover of History (bars, booze, and otherwise), so in that spirit, here's some history that I lived:
In 2003 I started my film company, Back40 Films. Around that same time I was playing Thomas Jefferson in a production of 1776 at the Ford's Theatre in DC - and in the cast was a guy named Mark Aldrich. We kept running in to each other at some of DC's best watering holes, including Old Ebbitt's Grill, and the Brickskeller (now the Bier Baron). We found that we shared a love of Historic & Remarkable Bars, as well as Craft Beverages. At some point, being voracious History and Travel Channel watchers, we came to the idea that there may be a show in all this. So I said something along the lines of "Okay, well, I have this spiffy new film company so - Let's shoot it".
And The Happy Hour Guys was born.
It didn't rise completely formed right away, of course. In fact, quite the opposite. In 2006 we paid what seemed to us a mint to some guys who then shot a professionally produced pilot at McSorley's in NYC - it was exciting, nerve wracking, we sent it all over the media universe that we knew, and... and it just sort of sat there.
So then we started a website. And then we started blogging.
And finally in 2008, we thought, "Well, no one seems to want to produce these for us, and we're enjoying ourselves mightily, so... let's see what it's like to produce them ourselves, on a regular basis." So, we decided to use our theatre careers to subsidize our TV show (which sounds totally BASS-ACKWARDS, doesn't it?) At that point we had shot maybe 8 episodes total, just messing around. I had even shot one on a point & shoot camera that did archaic video, pointing the cam at myself in prehistoric Selfie mode (this would have been, like 2007).
We had a terrible, used mini DV camera and one microphone. No lighting. We had no idea what we were doing, and IT WAS THRILLING. We made episodes in which we talked to potatoes. To say we were 'Pre-HD' would be an understatement: This one looks like we shot it through a pinhole camera.
And then, besides our YouTube Channel, we added another video carrier (thank you, @BlipTv) and others (Vimeo and Bitlanders) and our stuff began showing up in other regions of the inter webs - in fact, all over the place. People began to recognize us. These were heady days for us. I can remember them like they were yesterday. In fact, what day is it?
Cut to the present: These days, we sometimes have multiple shooters handling several cameras on a shoot (people will do a lot of work for free beer), we have portable lighting and sound, and I edit on a 'big boy platform' now, (Final Cut Pro) and... we have a GoPro. (A freaking GoPro! It's so fun!)
So what do we know now that we didn't know then? We've witnessed personally that many of the good folks who are making these beverages have risked nearly everything to do so, and continue to fight that good fight, between debt, fear, and their own personal vision, each and every day. As Artists, let me tell you... they could not be more inspiring. So we've dedicated ourselves to being a voice for these people who are making a change in their community. (And producing life-alteringly good liquids while they are at it!)
Bev-Tour with us sometime. It's a terrific ride. I recommend you jump on.