On The Happy Hour Guys: Passion, History, and Episode #300.

We've come a long, long way.

Yesterday we dropped the 300th video episode of The Happy Hour Guys.

Looking back on GABF 2014: BEER-icon.

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:

The McSorley's pilot, 2006.

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.

Can't take your eyes off of him for a second.

Can't take your eyes off of him for a second.

Alright then...

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?

Drinking at the Colorado Governor's Mansion.

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.


Jamaica. Yup.

On copyright: Updated the Actor Reel (with controversy!)

So, copyright. It's a tricky, wibbly-wobbly thing.

I updated my 'Actor Reel' recently - for those of you not in the Biz, an Actor's 'Reel' is basically a highlight film of their best  / favorite film & television appearances. And while most of my favorite stuff is from The Happy Hour Guys, I have done a few other things as well - so I finally took some time and edited up a batch featuring stuff from Chappelle's Show, Lipstick Jungle, THHG (of course), and a fun little comedy film I did with Caroline Rhea and Jay Potter (see Caroline below?) And so I uploaded my little showcase to my YouTube account.

Well, YouTube was not impressed. They were trying to the folks who created this stuff, the copyright holders of the clips I was uploading to their service. Almost immediately they sniffed them out and froze the reel, sending me a notice. I understood completely. I want this stuff to be protected. I hate it when people upload entire movies and shows to YouTube and everyone gets it for free and no one who actually busted their ass making it gets paid - that's way, way unfair.

Howeva, I want to get paid too. And this is one of the tools I use to get work. So then what?

Well, there is such a thing as Fair Use. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. I'm not trying to directly profit from this reel (other than letting people know I'm out there and open for business) - I haven't monetized it with advertising, and I don't care how many hits it gets. So I wrote YT back claiming that it was legal for me to use this material for reasons of Fair Use. This is my work, and it's how I get more work - people need to see it. 

Now I've traipsed around on both sides of this arguement - as a content creator with my film company, I believe in copyright and that the rights of creators MUST be upheld. But in our digital age, copyright is getting way fuzzy. The whole model needs some serious spiffing. 


Seriously: Who could be afraid of The Jeffrey?

Just posted to The Happy Hour Guys:

Been on Manhattan's Upper East Side lately? It recently became a much more Craft-y place, thanks to some folk who have a great deal of experience creating terrific places to meet, eat, and drink. The Jeffrey is the new Neighborhood Joint that starts pouring Craft Coffee at 6am, and then goes, and goes, and goes. Join Mark, Jimmy, and Squigs on a trip to this new gem!