A mobile barista makes craft coffee for film crews while searching for answers about his great-grandfather – an uncredited movie poster artist.
EXT. ALLEY WAY - MORNING
Two men swing open the back doors of an old sprinter van coated in colorful graffiti art. They set up a ramp and a much smaller vehicle emerges from behind: a canary yellow TUK-TUK with a square gray soft top boxed around the cargo space. The two men push the 3-wheel commuter scooter through a sliding wood gate, into...
EXT. BACKYARD - CONTINUOUS
A lush backyard littered with old Hollywood movie posters. A tree and basket brim with lemons, and a wood framed puzzle hangs from a chicken coop. It's the schmaltzy, technicolor movie poster for Gone With The Wind. Face-masked and dressed all in black, CAMERON, 34, parks the tuk-tuk in place. ROLLS UP the vinyl flaps of the soft top to reveal the vehicle's precious cargo: A vintage Italian espresso machine
When I first became a barista, I didn't know anything about my great-grandfather. I had never even heard the man's name... Louis
Hanging from the gate is a watercolor portrait, tinged sepia from time. The subject, a man who shares Cameron's dark features
Cameron sets up mugs in all 4 corners of the coffee machine. Silence = Death. Abolish I.C.E. Black Lives Matter. A swastika, encircled and slashed
He made movie posters. For decades. Movie studios wouldn't credit most craftspeople back then. Louis wasn't allowed to sign any of his work
A framed movie poster for Casablanca comes into focus
He could have made any of these
Rows of white paper cups stand tall between the mugs. They're upside down, but when Cameron PLUCKS one from the top of the stack, we see the red, cursive brushstroke logo for Cafablanca
While digging up Louis, piecing together the story of his lengthy career and life cut short, I got pretty good at my own little craft
CU of Cameron's mechanical HANDS. He tamps a puck of coffee grounds. Locks the portafilter into a group-head. Pulls the lever down quickly, then raises it slowly back up.
Started this coffee cart for film crews. Maybe I could brew my way past those studio gates
Espresso splashes into a paper cup.
A lot has changed since since my great-grandfather's time, but Hollywood's skilled workers still struggle for rights and recognition
PROFILE of the coffee cart. A small marquee message board reads #LIBERATEDCOFFEE
The crew members. The craftspeople. This coffee is for them
Cameron froths a pitcher of milk. Wipes the steam wand. Pours his latte. Flicks his wrist. Effortless.
Movies aren't made by magic. They are carefully crafted by highly skilled, deeply passionate individuals
A pristine tulip design tops the steamy beverage.
Crews sacrifice so much to breathe life into cinema. Their stories, too often, get left untold
Cameron faces the latte forward, displaying the cursive red script on the side of the cup.
Welcome to Cafablanca
Cafablanca follows a donation based coffee cart on a fanciful mission to find out if the great-grandfather of its founder made a movie poster for Casablanca
With LA's cutest coffee cart in tow, Cameron targets the Hollywood film industry. His strategy is two-prong:
1. Provide high quality craft coffee + tea on location for film and television crews
2. Gain access to the people and places who can help link Louis Kude to his art
Before launching Cafablanca, Cameron was an amateur barista working at a quaint café in the Pacific Northwest.
One rainy night, he opened a little yellow box and discovered something astonishing:
In near mint condition, a stack of over 100 photographic negatives...
A collection of images from the first twenty Academy Awards ceremonies
Still shots from the Oscar winning films of Hollywood’s Golden age
Up until that point, Cameron had never heard his great-grandfather’s name. Louis, he learned, made movie poster art from the late 1920s to the early 1950s. For the past several years Cameron has spent his free time researching Hollywood history, tracking down long-lost relatives, digging up family secrets, studying screenwriting and documentary filmmaking, contacting historians, producers, and film industry veterans in hopes of finding clues.
While perfecting his coffee craft, Cameron has worked to piece together this still unsolved puzzle... and what has begun to emerge is an incredible picture of his great-grandfather’s career.
Louis Kude was the Art Director for Metropolitan Theaters in the 1940's, which was LA's dominant film exhibitor at that time. After Louis was arrested picketing with union craftspeople for fair working conditions, he left Metro to start his own business: Louis Kude's Theatre Poster Service (est. 1947)
Shortly before Louis died, he sold his poster business to The National Screen Service, a company that went on to make movie posters for 90% of American films produced in the second half of the 20th century.
The more Cameron digs, the more it seems that Louis could have made a movie poster for Casablanca, just one of dozens of Oscar winning films pictured in his great-grandfather's little yellow box. If there is any way to confirm or refute that possibility, Cameron is determined to find it. Cafablanca may just be his ticket
In addition to telling the story of one craftsperson brewing his way into the backlots of Hollywood, while investigating the career of another craftsperson from Hollywood’s distant past, this documentary examines the often-overlooked roles of Hollywood's skilled workers in general. Cafablanca dissects craftspeople's struggles for rights, recognition, and fair working conditions while connecting their unsung contributions to the enduring perceptions of Hollywood as a beacon of artistry.
Cafablanca identifies and credits some of the unknown craftspeople receiving Oscars in technical categories who appear in the long-lost photo collection of Louis Kude.
So many old Hollywood movie posters have become more popular than the films they were created to advertise, and the craftspeople who created them deserve recognition. Growing up, there was this framed puzzle hanging up on my family's wall – the movie poster for Gone with The Wind. It was a wedding gift to my parents, whose dramatic and tumultuous marriage resulted in us moving all the time. Both the framed movie poster and the constant moving carried over into my adulthood. After I discovered that my great-grandfather made movie posters, the Gone with The Wind puzzle fell to the floor and broke into a jumble of pieces.
It astonishes me that this puzzle I spent so much time looking at and lugging around has never been glazed or glued together. That it stayed completely intact for so many decades, without losing even one piece, is nothing short of a miracle! I am making this movie to expose the grit, but also the wonder and magic behind these iconic images that will forever invoke the grandest heights of Hollywood splendor
Cafablanca needs your support to get this documentary rolling!
We are seeking interviews from studio archivists, Hollywood historians, art historians, film industry veterans, art department retirees, tax records analysts, movie poster collectors, and so forth. Please reach out if you have any resources, talents, knowledge, or connections to contribute in the making of this movie.
Cafablanca is fundraising to cover expenses while we are in production, as well as assist us with paying for travel, crew, equipment, and post-production. Your contributions will also keep us well stocked with coffee so we can stage Cafablanca for promotional pop-ups and use our coffee cart as a backdrop for local interviews, keeping our subjects happy, chatty and hyped!
Contact Cafablanca to discuss investment and collaboration opportunities.