Girl Beer is an introspective look at the history and participation of women in the craft beer industry and the trials and tribulations they experience everyday. The short film project is directed by Marena Domingo-Young.
Inspired by and recognizing the need to send out a PSA to as many people as possible in a way that is not only comprehensive, but universally relatable, first-time filmmaker and avid screenwriter Marena, takes her years of experience and expertise working in the upper echelons of craft beer to address issues fellow women in beer industry experience. Marena’s first, independently produced short documentary, “Girl Beer” focuses on the trials and tribulations of women who work with beer, both historically and now. This project comes from deeply personal incidents she and other femmes in the craft beer industry are met with daily. Many women in the industry constantly encounter overt and subtle aggressions against them. The constant theme is based on the obtuse perception that certain styles of beer denote/carry a connotation of gender. In the summer of 2018 Marena began her journey in addressing these misconceptions and that is when “Girl Beer” was born.
“Girl Beer” elevates the voices of women who work in various aspects of the beer industry in the greater Los Angeles area. The film’s goal is to highlight the necessity for feminism and equity when it comes to the workforce of this industry, and how the ownership of that space was wrested away by the proliferation of the patriarchy and its need to subdue any independence/power that women held in society. The film also acknowledges the all too familiar themes present regarding women in beer also translate to other careers, illuminating the fact that this is not just an issue for women in craft beer, but for women in all industries.
Marena hails from a small town in Northern California. She graduated with her degree in Theatre & Performance from San Jose State University, where her lifelong passion for writing found its perfect vehicle in screenwriting. Her original TV pilot script “Help Wanted” won second place in the Broadcast Education Association’s script competition. She pitched the same script to a panel of professional script consultants at the San Jose based film festival, Cinequest, which got her a seat at the table at the panel’s luncheon.
This script was also chosen from hundreds of entries to be workshopped with a director and group of actors at the London Screenwriter’s Festival in 2015. Her career in the craft beer industry has granted her the opportunity to live in various cities throughout the United States including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. She was fortunate to work most of her career in the industry with the world-renowned Danish brewery, Mikkeller, with whom she assisted in their annual craft beer festivals in both Boston and Copenhagen. It was through her intense passions for craft beer, filmmaking, and feminism that she fermented the idea for her inaugural documentary with the hopes of diving fully into a career in film. She now lives in Seattle, with her fiancé and two cats, and is currently working on a script for a feature length romantic comedy. It is our pleasure to interview her for Chicago Movie Magazine. Her project was recently an official selection of the Chicago Indie Film Awards.
What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?
I have always been a storyteller, starting with writing short stories as a kid. I dabbled in many different forms of writing throughout my life which evolved into a love of acting. I majored in theatre at San Jose State where I discovered the magic of screenwriting and film and realized that was the perfect vehicle for me to tell my stories. It's powerful, visual, and the exact type of storytelling that I had been searching for.
Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?
Since my creative history involves film classes during school, and I honestly just love learning, I do see a benefit to having access to film classes. It's important to recognize the privilege that comes with that access, but over the years with the emergence of things like youtube, this barrier is becoming less of a hurdle. I am also fully aware that theory is nothing without praxis, so actually getting your hands dirty is where the kinetic learning really shows you the scope of what goes into making a film. Making "Girl Beer" taught me so much about the process from start to finish in ways that reading books about making films could have never done on its own.
Does cinema stand out more than the arts for you? Why?
For me, personally, it does. But that's only because that is the path I have chosen. I have ventured through so many different avenues of art and they all have their distinct ways of communicating humanity, while also being interdependent. I cannot stress the benefits of dabbling in all different kinds of art. Plus it's exhilarating. Even though some forms of art remain a mystery to me, like music, I still absolutely love the feeling that it gives me just as a listener.
Why do you like to make films and where do you see your career in the film industry in ten years?
I love making films because I think that there are endless stories to be told and the nuanced way that filmmaking can present these stories seems almost universal. Kind of like how math is the same everywhere, visual storytelling can be ingested in a common way. Hopefully in 10 years I will have a few more films under my belt and be able to offer the help and experience to others just as I was helped. Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would most be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?
Yes, I am an indie filmmaker, which is cool. Indie anything can be considered amateur, but I remember learning that the word "amateur" means "for the love of" as in you're doing something solely because you love it - because your soul needs to do it. Being paid for making art of course is the dream for a lot of us, because having to save money through another avenue ends up costing us time that we could be devoting to our craft. There are limits, for sure, that you run into, but I am also a firm believer in the mantra that limits free creativity. Those restrictions that you run into as an indie filmmaker force you to find ways to do what it is that you need to do, and those who have that need, that drive, will get it done.
What is the distribution plan for your film and how are you planning to reach a greater audience for your project?
"Girl Beer" was a film I made for the craft beer community. It was meant to give a voice to my fellow femmes in the industry by basically putting out a PSA about the problems and frustrations we have to deal with, while also expanding that idea outside the beer world. Because of that, my main goal is to bring this film to breweries all over the world in order to spread that solidarity and awareness. A lot of women who work in beer feel alone in these struggles, and that is not the case. Film festivals are also a goal, showing this to the public as well with the hopes that people who are not intimately involved in craft beer will also learn about our front line battles against misogyny. This film is the springboard for diving deeper into my passion of filmmaking by showing that I not only have ideas, but I am also capable of bringing those ideas to fruition. What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker?
Documentary films are the medium that have become very important to me. I am still screenwriting, where my love for fictional storytelling still thrives. But with the way that the world is, it's hard to justify playing with vampires and werewolves (yes, I am one of those) when there are so many real life stories that need to be told. Of course, metaphors are the basis for all stories, and so that does justify my more fantastical modes of entertainment, but the impetus for non-fiction storytelling is at the forefront of my creative drive. I would love to just continually be working on films, whether or not they are my own, and at all stages of them. I have a plethora of ideas of course, but lending my hands to help other people realize their own stories is also a passion. We're all creatures of the underground, and we need to support each other.
What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?
If "Girl Beer" can change even one person's idea of what craft beer is, i.e. that it is a man's world and women have no place in it, then it will have done its job. This is a feminist film, by women for women, to let each other know that we do have a space in the world of beer, and that it was our space for millenia before men co-opted it. But this film is also for men as well. I want them to learn something and help educate them to become allies, so when they're at the bar and the guy next to them makes a comment about how a certain beer is "girly," they can turn and say, "Hey my guy. Let me tell you a thing or two about beer and women." If I witnessed that in real life I would keel over with happiness. The goal of a lot of women in beer is to educate those in the community, and "Girl Beer" is just a louder way of saying what we all are trying to say.