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Hopped Up wins at Ellensburg Film Festival

Hopped Up Movie Poster
Feature length documentary by Daniel A. Cardenas

I’m blown away that Hopped Up wins at Ellensburg Film Festival! After making a feature-length documentary, these are my final thoughts on production/post. All in all, it took over 5 years to complete. It seems like a long time, but I learned a hell of a lot. Most of it was not really about filmmaking though. I am already looking for another feature to make. I’m not sure if it will be a documentary or a fictional narrative piece. I’m open at this point. Making a feature documentary was my first endeavor into longer format work.

The one thing I regret is not documenting the process by which this film came about. I don’t really want to go back and revisit it all, but the main thing is that it’s completed and it’s scheduled for release on Sept 30th right before the Fresh Hop Ale Festival.

Before we premier the film, I wanted to enter it into several film festivals to see if it would be accepted or even possibly win an award. Just for a little validation. I’m so deep into the film that I really don’t know if it’s that good or not. Actually, I’m not as into the film as my editor, Tony Capelli. He did an awesome job. Keeping his head down during the pandemic editing away doing the very hard work of making sense out of it all. I laid out what I thought the story would be on a beat board, and we kind of just stuck to that and made what we thought was a good story.

The Ellensburg Film Festival accepted the film and gave it an award for Best Feature Documentary. It was a semi-finalist Best PNW (Pacific Northwest) Feature. I’m so thrilled and humbled by the recognition we’ll get from it. My hope is to be well received in the several other festivals it’s entered into as well as sell a few BluRay discs. And, possibly get it picked up by a distributor. We’ll see where we take it. Check out another post here.

Poster for 2021 Ellensburg Film Festival
Poster for 2021 Ellensburg Film Festival

Making a documentary Production Notes- August 2019

by Daniel Cardenas
documentary production notes-August 2019. Hops. Stoup Brewing, Bakerbuilt Works
Lara, Brad, and Robin, owners of Stoup Brewing, Ballard, WA

Making a documentary Production Notes- August 2019
Well, it’s been a long year since I’ve posted something to this blog. To be honest not much has been happening with the film. The summer was fairly busy with other paid work that I have to do to keep funding this film.

We were able to shoot at a Stoup Brewing in Ballard which happens to be co-owned by a couple of women and one of their husbands. They are very knowledgeable about craft beer and in particular hops. I’m actually joining the head brewer, Brad Benson, next week for a trip out to Yakima for a load of fresh Mosaic hops. He’ll rush them back for a batch of fresh hop beer.

We are in the beginning stages of post-production and wow, what an endeavor this is going to be. I’ve enlisted a couple of colleagues to add some perspective and how to tackle the amount of footage we have. There are still a few missing pieces to this puzzle. And I’ll be adding more to Making a documentary Production Notes and time permits and we have something to say. We are trying to get an interview with someone at Yakima Chief Hops, but being harvest time, they’re pretty busy catering to thirsty brewers who swarm all over Yakima this time of year.

In crafting the story around this documentary, I’ve had a few ideas but nothing really popped. Until now. Like any good story, there needs to be some conflict, a journey, and a resolution. I’m still working to uncover the conflict. Whether it’s a finicky market, over saturation of craft beer, a flood of hops and hops products in the market, or even mother nature. Any of these things could negatively impact the hop industry in a big way. Stay tuned to these documentary productions notes As we wrap up the production of Hops, the movie, hopefully, I’ll find the thread that binds this amazing adventure together. Check out another post here.

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.

Production notes May 2018

Production notes May 2018
The original wolf among the weeds. Humulus Lupulus

It’s been a few weeks since I was in Yakima area interviewing Tyler Carpenter at Carpenter Farms for this movie and production notes. That was a great experience. He was very helpful and spent a few hours with me talking about hops, farming and Carpenter Farms. I was shooting as a one man band because well, I could. Wanted to be lean and mean to keep the costs down, I took the mobile one production van and ended up sleeping in it after hanging out at the 617 in Tieton for a glass of wine and some tapas. It was a good trip.

This is the 4th year I’ve been working on this movie. Since I’ve been self funding it, I’ve had friends and co-workers and my employees from my production company come over with me to shoot in Yakima. We all live on “the West side” as they say over in Yakima. It’s about a 3 hour drive from our studio in Everett. During last winter there was quite a bit of snow on Snoqualmie pass, so I didn’t get out there as often as I had in previous years.

Two years ago the snow was deep

Two years ago there was a crap load of snow on the ground when I went over to get some shot in and around Topennish and Brulotte Farms. Now that was a trip. Trudging through the snow out in those fields is quite a surreal experience. It’s very quiet, you can just feel the stillness in the air.

A snow covered field of hops from production notes

In the dead of winter the hops are fast asleep

Production notes help me reflect

In my head, the thought of all those rhizomes sleeping under that snow, just hanging out and resting, just blows me away. They rest until springtime comes along and then they hop to. (no pun intended) Pushing their way out of the ground and their bines spiraling their way up over 14 feet tall and bursting out green fragrant cones of hops under the hot days and cool nights of the Yakima Valley. This is just one of the phenomena I want to explore in “A Wolf Among the Weeds” the feature length documentary I’m making. Check back on these production notes as we have finally got this website up and although we’re still flushing out the story, we’ll have more production notes for you as we heat up the production to try and wrap in the fall.