Coffee & Cigarettes (2013)

A promotional short for an upcoming feature film, Coffee Cigarettes takes a look at what happens when the personal tradition of a coffee shop customer comes up against the rules of the establishment and state.

Directed by: Rob Bowen
Written by: Rob Bowen
Starring: Ittany LaShay & Rob Bowen
With: Ariel Crawford & Gary Allen

Director’s Notes

Coffee & Cigarettes is something of a unique beast, because I wrote it as a simple promotional short that we could release to generate interest in another, larger project we had planned (and still do), but it also very much stands alone as a darkly comedic look at what happens when social rules and laws come up against the personal traditions of someone who lives outside such structures. The idea and the film itself, happened very quickly, which is why I had to step in and be on camera once again. Reaching out to local talent, I connected with Ittany who so wonderfully captured the attitude and fire of the character I gave her.

As I said, the planning and putting together of this film happened quicker than usual, and thus this project was done and ready months before it would be released (so as to coincide with the launch of the crowd funding campaign).

I reached out to a couple of my local social media friends and a former co-worker to help us pull all this off. Ariel and I had worked together in the trenches of the food service industry, and had always talked about working together on shorts, we had just never found the opportunity to do so. In fact, her part in this short was larger, however, due to the trying to keep the time down as much as possible for the promotional aspect of its purpose, I had to cut some of her dialog and scene out.

Gary was so great to come in and help out, even though he was admittedly not an actor and somewhat uncomfortable on film. I felt like this added such a Clerks feel to the already Clerk-ish piece, that I absolutely loved it. Speaking of Clerks, it was funny that I penned this piece with that in mind, as the comic book shop we shot the film in, the owner Mike, already had that sign posted at his register about letting them know if you plan on shoplifting. It felt almost destiny-like that the film was to be shot there. Mike was so great about working with us to let us use his establishment, even when I realized one of Ittany’s key scenes was not captured correctly and we would have to reconvene there a week later to reshoot the scene. Which was also the first time I had done anything like that, but it was completely necessary as we just didn’t have that scene otherwise.

Overall, while the crowd funding campaign failed, I feel like the film itself was a big success (still one of our most viewed shorts to date). I loved the way it all came together in the end, save for a couple of less than focused shots of myself. However, the tight, quick pace I liked because it doesn’t give any of the comedy time to linger in the humor, it just keeps pushing on through. The shoot was fun and laid back, and made for an overall easy day. And while the pacing of the film, was not necessarily the pacing of the shoot itself, we still had a complete blast during the hours we were gathered.

Though this film was released as our fifth short film, it was shot before Seasons Change, so the Easter Egg trend I began in Seasons Change does skip over this film. I was okay with this, because the film, as I said, was a unique beast. But this is the only short since Seasons Change was made that will not have some kind of reference to Shakespeare in it.

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