Making a documentary Production Notes-June 2018

Making a documentary takes dedication and a lot of work. In our case, it also takes a lot of mileage. Unfortunately, when I chose to finance the making of this particular documentary, it was not exactly in my backyard. This being said, the fun of traveling on the road to the various places adds so much to the story. The only way to tell the story of hops is to go to the source. In our case, that’s at least 150 miles away.

Yakima Hops Doc- Production Notes Goshie Farms

Looking out from the office of Goschie Farms


June was a busy month. Since the beginning of the month, I’ve gotten to travel and shoot a couple of times. This last time my DP, Randall Peck and I traveled first to Skagit Valley Malting to chat with Dave Green and Adam Foy about the interesting work they’re up to with regards to malting barley from the Skagit Valley.

When making a documentary, you set out to learn everything about the subject of your movie. This was a very informative interview session for me. I learned about malting the barley that goes into beer. “Hops get all the glory,” says Dave Green, but malted barley or other grains, yeast, and water make up the main ingredients beer. From there we visited FarmStrong Brewing in Mount Vernon, WA where they use malted grains from right in their backyard in the Skagit Valley to craft some amazing beers.

Making a documentary-Hitting the Road

Hitting the road, which is always an adventure when making a documentary, we traveled in “the mothership,” the production company’s blacked-out Sprinter van, down to Salem, OR. “Salem?” you might question. Yes, Salem. The Willamette Valley in the 1930’s was the center of hop growing in the country.

We met up with Gayle Goschie of Goschie farms. Her family has been farming hops in the Willamette for over 130 years. She gave us an Oregon perspective on the hop growing industry that was very insightful.

Then we headed over to Oregon State University to check in with Professor Tom Shellhammer, at the Food Sciences Department.

He is a world renown doctor of fermentation specializing in studying beer and, particularly, hops. Tom has a wealth of information on the subject of beer and he’s well known for it. They even have their own brewery right on campus! While we were there, he had grad students working on testing a variety of beers for IBU (International Bittering Units).

This was really cool. Could you imagine? Brewing and studying beer as part of your college degree. Evidently, there’s quite a waiting list to get into the program.

We wrapped up 2 days of shooting, covering about 700 miles in 4 locations. On the drive home, I was already thinking of the next series of interviews and b-roll that will come together to tell this story of Hops. I find that having a bit of flexibility in my original outline while making a documentary offers me the opportunity to explore this story at a deeper level. Is that good or bad when it comes to making a documentary? We’ll see.