Director’s Statement

Behind-the-Scenes Gallery



“We should make a movie this summer.”

These words, said by a fellow producer, are what inaugurated this project. After that, it was only a matter of time before we settled on a genre (“Let’s make a Western!” “No, a musical!” “No, a Western musical!”) and plot and set to writing. The project became a kind of rolling stone, tumbling onwards and leaving us with the movie we are now presenting to you.

If it were true what they say – a rolling stone gathers no moss – then “El Caffinato” would be a simple story with little to discuss here. Yet precisely because of that simplicity, El Caffinato has surprised us with all it has to say.

First, there is its Western-ness. We thought a Western musical would be hysterical, but the confines of budget (we had none) made access to things like horses impossible. Instead of ditching the Western, we held onto the essential bits of Western storytelling and set it in an accessible location (a coffee shop). When you strip the Western to its essentials like this, you end up with a primal story, a mythically biological fight-or-flight tale about choosing to stand up and answer the call to defend.

The surprise came in finding that this narrative fit so well onto the modern milieu, where disenchantment begets apathy, and the predominant image is someone seated at a table, shoulders hunched, computer aglow. Here was that tension of stasis and action. Milo’s problem became the problem of the coffee shop. “It’s closing time at El Caffinato and things aren’t winding down…” – everyone needs to get up and move and do something, but they just won’t.

This is why El Caffinato became as much Digby’s story as Milo’s. Though he’s a “bad, bad dude,” Digby is also precisely what the crowd at El Caffinato needs: the call to action. The looks of surprise on the hipsters’ faces as they celebrate their victory are the expressions of people discovering the collective power of activity. Ultimately, we feel sad about what happens to Digby – his longing to be a part of this is genuine. If only he weren’t such a jerk.

That sense of longing became a kind of leitmotif for the movie as well. Another piece of vintage Americana came sidling into our project – the images of the American painter, Dennis Hopper. Particularly when we look into El Caffinato, you can see traces of his “Night Hawks,” which captures that ache that makes you long to be inside and love to be outside, looking in.

We would take nothing away from El Caffinato if we settled on this ache. Our generation is lost enough in nostalgia. Our references to Hopper, to Westerns, to musicals, are done only with a glance backwards. We have let these influences accrue to the project like bits of moss; but a stone – like time, and like the action that this movie looks towards – keeps rolling.