When a Grip Becomes a Director, You Get This Beautifully Lit Microbrewery Ad

The path to creative greatness is paved with beer

A crafty ad for a craft beer. - Credit by Enlightened Brewery
Headshot of Doug Zanger

Sometimes it pays to eavesdrop on conversations. In the case of Milwaukee director Josh Halverson, it led to a beautiful ad for a local microbrewery.

“For me, the life of all cinema starts with lighting—that drew me to the G&E (grip and electric) department,” he said. “I quickly learned to use working in G&E to study the ‘why’ behind everything. I’ve always made a point to [listen to] conversations between the director and DP (director of photography), trying to anticipate what they might do next.”

Some of the brands he’s worked on in his G&E days include Nike, Gatorade, Verizon, the Green Bay Packers and several indie films and shorts. Halverson, a career “crew guy in the G&E department” before transitioning to shooting and directing the last couple of years, took the knowledge he acquired on the sly to Enlightened Brewery, a local brewer in Milwaukee.

It’s beautiful work and, in the first few seconds of the 60-second spot, it’s easy to think that this is a big-budget shoot for a major brand. But, as we found out, Halverson and his small crew were paid in a most delicious currency, Enlightened’s ale.

The work itself mirrors the product it’s selling: handcrafted. There are no post effects— no flame 2D or 3D artists—just a group of enthusiastic filmmakers all playing their role (you can see one of the takes below).

Creatively, there are familiar cues: anthemic and poetic copy, hero beer shot, music swelling to a conclusion, “Voice of God.” And, on closer examination, Halverson’s backstory feels like some of the ad’s copy: “We studied, we learned, we listened, we made a few mistakes and we learned some more.”

For now, the spot is web only, but the brewery may get it out to the Midwest masses should more suds be sold.

As an industry, we’re respectful of the names that pop up consistently in credits. But it’s always fun to experience work that comes from unexpected places—and see some new people make their way more prominently into advertising’s talent pool—especially when working with small or nonexistent budgets.

Earlier this month, we saw how a talented director turned $5,000 into Adidas spec spot gold. And now, we see what great creative can look like when it’s paid for with ale.


Production Company: Bash Films
Producers: Josh Paul Halverson, Ryan Bingham and Michael Marten
Writer: Josh Paul Halverson
Directors: Josh Paul Halverson and Ryan Bingham
Cinematography: Josh Paul Halverson and Ryan Bingham
Art Direction: Michael Marten and Kelly Fitzpatrick
Music: Lawton Hall of Chair Company
Voiceover: Noah Swanson

@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.