Interview: Sam Calagione, Off-Centered Film Fest


Sam from Dogfish HeadIt may seem a bit off-topic to feature an interview with a craft brewer on Slackerwood, but Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewing is no stranger to the film and television industry. As the star and host of the Discovery Channel's Brewmasters, the secrets behind his off-centered brewing techniques have been revealed to the general public. Calagione also selected Austin and Alamo Drafthouse to help him host the Off-Centered Film Fest (OCFF), which features short films from aspiring filmmakers.

I spoke with Sam Calagione by phone before his arrival in Austin, and here's what he had to say about the OCFF as well as the overlap between film and brewing.

Slackerwood: You've been in Austin for the Off-Centered Film Fest (OCFF) for several years now?

Sam Calagione: This is the fifth anniversary. I've come personally to Austin for the film fest every year.

What inspired the expansion of the OCFF for this year?

Calagione: I think we've expanded the program as a result of expanded excitement in craft beer in general -- also the enthusiasm that we have for working with the Alamo Drafthouse, which we think is just the perfect off-centered collaborator for us.

Can you talk about this year's competition films?

Calagione: We try not give out too much information. We'll just say that this year we had the best range, volume and content in terms of film submission. We are really excited to show the ones that scored the highest as part of the program.

You've been in front of the camera a bit with Brewmasters, have you ever had any inspiration to get behind the camera?

Calagione: We make these little goofy films for our website, my wife Mariah and I. She usually takes the film and I'm on camera for those films. We do our own little indie filmmaking in that regard.

I also wrote and directed a short film we made with Will Oldham, the musician known as Bonnie Prince Billy. I play a robot and he plays a reporter ("Robot Brewery Tour" on YouTube). I love film as a creative medium, nearly as much as I love brewing as a creative medium. The idea for this film festival is all about the overlap in those communities and how strong it is.

Did you work with Alamo Drafthouse's Executive Chef John Bullington on the menu for the Beer Feast on Friday night?

Calagione: I've been very impressed with the creativity in the food, beer and programming that the good folks at Alamo have contributed to this fest. I also want to give a special shout out to my buddies Joe Lo Truglio and Ken Marino. They are my actor friends who are kind of co-hosting some of the OCFF events this weekend. Ken is producing and Joe is starring in an upcoming film Wanderlust that features Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd.

What's funny is that they were among the first people to try my beer, the first time I homebrewed. I lived with all these guys in New York City, and after the first batch of homebrew, I was like "I want to be a brewer, I want to be a professional brewer." They said, "Hell yeah -- do it, Sam."

It was kind of neat that they are joining me for the fifth annual Off-Centered Film Fest. It further shows how much the worlds of film and beer overlap in my life.


Check out the expanded OCFF events for 2011 which includes a Strange Brew Rolling Roadshow on Thursday night and a beer feast on Friday. For more from Calagione on beer-related topics, check out my full interview with him on Beertown Austin.

[Photo credit: "Sam from Dogfish Head" by Braden Kowitz, found on Flickr and used under Creative Commons license]