About The Film



Synopsis

The story’s narrator moves to New York City six months after the death of his brother. The narrator’s brother Jim died in a pedestrian auto accident. The narrator adjusts to city life but is haunted by Jim’s last journal, which he wrote in the last four months before his death. This journal rests with Ina, the woman who witnessed the accident. The narrator decides to meet Ina and read the last words and thoughts of his deceased brother. The world that the narrator enters is more than he ever could have imagined. Once he opens the journal, his brother’s words pour out and teleport him into a world that the he cannot exit.

Director's Statement

The idea for “Cafe Con Leche” came to me while living in Madrid for a year studying Spanish. I spent a lot of time hanging out in coffee shops and writing in my journal. After several months my journal became an excellent document of my thoughts and ideas for that moment in my life. My journal was a snapshot and I wondered what it would be like if someone were to get to know me through my journal. From here the journal idea took on a life of its own, becoming a powerful device, somewhat of a Pandora’s box that gives the reader great power-of course this is at a cost.

After writing the script I thought, ‘how am I going to shoot this film in the New York City subway’? At the time there were post 9-11 laws being written that no one could take a photograph in the subway. Getting a film permit to shoot would have been difficult considering half of the film takes place in the subway. I had written the story in first person narration. This solved a huge production problem. I would have the narrator of the story tell the audience as if he is giving a slide show about his experience (of course he would be telling this story after his death). I decided to shoot the film on low density B&W film so I could move fast and need very little light.

Casting was an important aspect to pulling off “Cafe Con Leche.” The lead actor would have to be agile and versatile. I looked for someone that had some improvisational experience because we would be riding the subway at rush hour, shooting on train platforms at three in the morning and changing our shooting schedule depending on the flow of the subway crowds. Steven proved to be exactly what I was looking for. After several days of shooting together in the subway, most of the time just Steven and I alone, we developed a great rhythm. Together we were able to absorb a lot of the New York City subway energy even through still photos.

In the end, the idea of “Cafe Con Leche” through still photos proved to capture the vision better than I anything I could have shot on a video or motion picture camera. We overcame a lot of production difficulties and brought a complicated rich story to the screen in the simplest, most elegant way just like turning pages of the journal one frame at a time.

Production Notes

Shooting in the subway with New Yorkers was a great experience. Most of the time passengers were very cooperative and we didn’t have to explain what we were doing. Some subway riders got really involved telling us what the next shot should be. One woman riding next to us lined up a great angle telling us, “you can get a great two shot from here and you can edit that ugly subway poster out in post production.” It is amazing how ordinary people are so versed in the language of film production.

The producer of “Cafe Con Leche,” Manuela Fischer was a solid foundation in getting the film done. Once the production was complete I had hundreds of still photos and no narration. It was here I had to stitch the film together in an almost documentary style, building the film from scratch in post-production. Manuela was always patient, looking at “Cafe Con Leche” in its early stages, believing that this project would one day come together. Without her quiet resolve I would not have been able to complete this project.