(March 6, 2015) “Blood, Sweat and Beer,” a documentary featuring one of Ocean City’s breweries, was premiered last Sunday at Washington D.C.’s Independent Film Festival. The documentary sold out the U.S. Naval Heritage Center in downtown Washington D.C. with almost 300 people braving an ice storm to see the film.
“We were blown away with the reception. We did not know what to expect. It had only been seen by family and a few friends,” said creator Chip Hiden. “It was pretty crazy to stand in the back and watch reactions. People were clapping, laughing and applauding. We had a lot of nice comments on the film.”
Hiden, an independent filmmaker and author, along with his co-director, Alexis Irvin, focused on the craft beer industry in their documentary, which tells the stories of two start-up breweries.
The film follows Danny Robinson’s Backshore Brewing Company’s troubles with a trademark lawsuit that arose when the local pub debuted as Shorebilly on 10th Street and the Boardwalk, in addition to chronicling struggles the Brew Gentlemen Beer Company of Braddock, Pa. faced in trying to bring jobs back to their once prosperous steel town. Braddock suffers from decades of neglect, population loss and violence.
The premiere was the first time Robinson had seen the film. He was accompanied on the road trip by about a dozen of his Backshore family. He was impressed with everything from the crowd reaction to selling out the theatre.
“The premiere went awesome, although I am a little biased,” Robinson said. “The audience and their reaction could not have been better. People were crying, cheering and laughing throughout parts of the documentary. A huge applause came at the end and I was happy to see the audience into it.”
Robinson found it odd to see himself on the screen and did not remember some of the content displayed in the movie since it was shot over a two-year period.
“I was excited and anxious to see it,” Robinson said. “The gripping stories pull you in and there was not a dry eye in the theatre. You could hear people sniffling and it became very emotional.”
The film also explores the cultural and economic impacts of craft beer in the United States through these two breweries. For 15 months, the filmmakers traveled to 14 states and interviewed more than 100 brewery experts.
“Everyone kept saying beer was the backdrop and anyone would enjoy the movie even if you don’t like beer, although they do give eye opening facts about the industry that grabbed your attention,” Robinson said. “It captures the human struggles entrepreneurs face throughout the country.”
After the documentary was shown on Sunday, the audience had a chance to ask Robinson questions.
“The feedback was all positive and I was surprised people wanted to know about the brewery, the lawsuit outcome and our plans for the future,” Robinson said.
A little over a month ago, a federal judge in Baltimore dismissed the Ocean City-based trademark lawsuit over the use of the word “Shorebilly,” ruling that the plaintiff in the case, Teal Bay Alliance LLC, misled the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and that the trademark registration was defective.
In addition, if the trademark were valid, Teal Bay still failed to show the confusion with the pub’s use of “Shorebilly Brewing Co,” the judge said.
The court also ordered Teal Bay to pay more than $30,000 in attorneys’ fees to Robinson. Teal Bay has appealed the case.
Robinson has no plans to change his pub’s name back to Shorebilly. The main reason is because filing for a name federally is hard enough and he’s already changed it once.
He did mention a beer named Shorebilly may debut sometime in the future to honor his pub’s original name.
A premiere of “Blood, Sweat and Beer” in Ocean City is in the works before the summer season begins. The venue has not been determined. A bar is an obvious choice, but it must be large enough after the huge turnout in Washington D.C. An outdoor venue may be the answer, Robinson said.
Hiden has a few ideas on where to premiere the movie in Ocean City, but is open to suggestions.
“It would be neat to have a showing on the beach with a blow up movie screen,” Hiden said.
Also, they have thought about screening the film at Pickles Pub on Eighth Street, which is owned by Robinson.
“What I didn’t expect was the documentary to be a tourist marketing video for Ocean City,” Robinson said. “It put Ocean City in a good light and had people who have never been here, talking about visiting the area for themselves.”
“Blood, Sweat and Beer” can be seen in Tampa, Fla. on March 12, in addition to at least a half dozen other cities throughout the year including Atlanta and Sarasota’s film festivals.
Creators Alexis Irvin, from left and Chip Hiden, along
with Backshore Brewery’s owner Danny Robinson and
Nate Todd pose for a picture at the premiere of Blood,
Sweat and Beer in Washington D.C. on March 1.