A young passionate musician, forced into his father’s family business of selling coffee, meets an eccentric looking girl who persuades him to leave town and follow his dreams. Who was this girl? Was she real? Does it matter?
Coffee was an official selection of NFFTY 2014 and screened as a part of the Afternoon Eclectic category. Director Willem van den Heever was awarded the New Talent Award in the 18-22 age bracket for his work on the film.
Film of the Week is presented by Volvo Cars of North America.
About the directors:
Willem van den Heever:
Born in Pretoria, South Africa and currently studying B.A Film Studies at The Open Window (School Of Visual Communication), I am an independent filmmaker and freelance cinematographer & photographer. I am an adventurer and explorer at heart. I like to hear stories, see stories and tell stories. I also believe that one person can make a difference and we can either choose to be influenced by the world or influence the world. If we don’t help each other, who will? I love films, music, the ocean and traveling. If you like what I do, I’m doing something right. If you don’t like what I do, I am also doing something right, but if you feel nothing, bored and uninspired by what I do, I am failing at my art.
Vaughan Coetzee is a 21 year old filmmaker from Potchefstroom, South Africa, and has a passion for telling stories about imperfect people in difficult situations. Every aspect of film fuels his passion and excites him. His favorite directors include Wes Anderson, David O. Russell and Steven Spielberg.
NFFTY spoke with Willem about collaboration and pursuing passions.
Q: Where did the inspiration come for this story? Considering you are pursuing film, did that have any affect on the story you wanted to tell about Winston and his love for music?
I was sitting outside one Friday afternoon, brainstorming and drinking a cup of coffee while the rain was pouring down in Pretoria. This is basically what I do whenever I’m thinking about ideas for films. But except for the actual coffee, I think it was a number of things that happened in my life, and the frustration of feeling stuck in the same town my whole life (even though I live in a relatively big city) that inspired me. I always try to write stories and make films that others can relate to, because that’s the type of stories that inspire me. I think the central theme of the film is something my generation can relate to all over the world. So yes in a way my own life and me perusing my passion for film inspired the film, but mostly the general idea of more and more people just doing what is expected of them and living someone else’s dream instead of their own.
Q: What is it like being a young filmmaker living in South Africa? Is it common for young people there to get involved in such a craft?
I don’t think it’s as common here, especially for people my age, to go into this kind of industry full time (This is again where the theme of my film comes in, just because there’s a perception that being an artist is not a real job). I also think its got something to do with the culture and that South Africa is only now busy developing a more solid film culture, which is great to see. So even though the industry is still relatively small, it is starting to pick up and it’s great to see young filmmakers being more and more inspired to go into the craft. As a young filmmaker in South Africa I really love it. I think there’s a lot of room for us to start telling our stories, which is one thing I think South Africa has got a lot of.
Q: NFFTY filmmakers sometimes go on to collaborate after the festival. While NFFTY 2014 was your first time attending, Coffee was a collaboration with previous NFFTY filmmaker; Vaughan Coetzee. What was it like working with someone else who has also experienced the festival?
I never knew Vaughan before we started working on the film. I saw Brunch, his previous film, on the Internet about a year ago and read about NFFTY and his film being selected. This inspired me to do my first proper short film with the eye on international film festivals. I also liked his style a lot and realized we have a similar artistic taste, so I contacted him via Facebook and he was on board with the idea from the start. A few months later we met for the first time in person about a week before we started shooting. It was an absolute pleasure working with him and I’m sure our roads will cross again in the near future.
Q: Considering this film is about taking a leap of faith to pursue a passion, what would you say to any of the dreamers out there wanting to do the same?
Never be afraid to follow your heart and dreams. Like the famous Nike slogan says, JUST DO IT! And it really is as easy as that. Don’t let anyone try and force you into someone/something you are not. With enough passion and dedication, anything is possible. Never get too comfortable with your surroundings or circumstances; there’s a big world full of opportunities out there. Don’t wait on others in order to start living your dream, the world’s not gonna wait for you, so start today!
Q: In what ways has participation in NFFTY helped you grow as a filmmaker?
I’ve never learned as much about filmmaking and the film industry as in my week at NFFTY. I realized age is not an excuse to create internationally recognized film art. I saw the mind-blowing results of other dedicated and passionate filmmakers. I learned from others and what to focus and improve on in my own films in the future. But most importantly I gained a lot of valuable new friends and contacts which changed my life as a filmmaker and the way I think about film in an indescribable way.