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So you opened Pandora's Box... Coffee Films was established in 1996 as a filmmaking collective, a kind of pretentious way of saying "a bunch of stoners with camcorders". We became a company in 2003 which is where the official filmography begins, but before that came seven years of experimental short filmmaking, little of which was saying very much, we were just having fun and learning how to make films.

Some of the team would quite like to have these projects consigned to the pits of hell, but we're also not fans of sterilising things to make them more acceptable, cool or professional; this is where we came from and what we did and we did alright afterwards so these little projects deserve some thanks. Many of the names have been obscured to protect jobs; Google searches are a bitch!

The original myth of Pandora has an often forgotten footnote, she did release all the evils of the world, but managed to hold onto one thing; hope, and maybe that's what these films are for. They're for that little fat girl in Ohio and every kid who wants to be a filmmaker but can't imagine how to afford the gear, get the experience or make their way into such a difficult and demanding industry.

We managed it with equipment so bad there is no comparison today, without any training, in a world without an Internet and funded from our own pockets; if you want it and work at it hard enough you can do it too x


Televisual Man

A film by Steve Piper, featuring Dave S, flukey sound concept by John O'R. Zero budget 4 minute S-VHS black and white short produced under the company name Mr. Spambapstic Films. A bit of a pretentious first effort, this film was developed from an idea originally shot by Steve and John with friend Lee N, which involved a man getting sucked into his TV set, it later developed into this statement about being watched in the Orwellian/CCTV/reality show sense. Original soundtrack was the irrelevant but somehow fitting Perfect Day by Lou Reed. The film was remastered and released in 2004 with an awesome Amir Baghiri soundtrack, more info here.

Drugs Night

A film by Steve Piper, featuring Dave S, Spunky, John O'R, Steve Piper and Jonny D. Zero budget 7 minute Hi-8 documentary, the first effort in an ongoing series of parties, gatherings, and social smokes. Shot as it happened without any form or plan by the cast it turned out rather fly on the wall and unsure of it's purpose. Development into a series defined it as a place we experimented with form and effects and managed to reveal something of what it is to be young and bored in the suburbs. Lots of music featured, mostly from Prodigy's Fat of the Land album.


Coffee Intro

A film by Steve Piper. Zero budget 7 minute Hi-8 spoof documentary, running briefly over Coffee Films and it's history in a pseudo South Bank Show kind of way. Featuring some new footage, photos, and clips from Drugs Night, Televisual Man and the repeatedly shelved 5 days project, which enjoyed a premature week of filming in 1997 and we never finished writing. Cut to Sour Times by Portishead.

Sad Cunt

A film by Steve Piper, featuring Jordan. Zero budget 3 minute Hi-8 short; the screen debut of Jordan (not the model) as a sad bloke who stays in and watches TV on Saturday nights. Entertaining and extremely budget it was improvised and shot on a penniless Saturday Night as we had nothing else to do. Our first use of "stop-frame live action" filming and featuring Madness' House of Fun on the soundtrack.


Gun Girl

A film by Steve Piper. Zero budget 1 minute Hi-8 black and white ident, the first in a series of minute long Coffee Films idents, used to experiment with various camera and effects techniques. This one involved an animated sequence of a girl (an Action Force toy) shooting a smiley face in a wall with lots of cigarette smoke floating around to catch the light rays. Cut with some kind of trance crap.


A film by Steve Piper, featuring John O'R. Zero budget 2 minute Hi-8 ident furthering the animation experiments. This ident involved O'R sitting in an invisible go-kart shooting around Mum Piper's tiny terraced house, the 'crash on the stairway' sequence very nearly resulted in a variety of horrific wounds for both director and actor. The name comes from the Iggy Pop tune used as the music.


Dancing Bloke

A film by Steve Piper. Zero budget 1 minute Hi-8 black and white short made primarily to test a home made light diffusing filter (made from a nylon stocking which actually looked pretty cool), this featured the brief but extremely groovy moves of a string puppet made from felt and wood, having a casual jig to Dub Be Good to Me by Beats International.


A film by Steve Piper. Zero budget 3 minute Hi-8 ident returning to frame by frame shooting for an image barrage of logos, film clips and new animated sequences, shot primarily for something to do and cut to the track A Bachelor for Baden Powell by Carter USM.


Union Bar

A film by Steve Piper. Zero budget 15 minute Hi-8 short made up of film clips, animations and short live action sequences, the film was created for a TV wall in a local club, used to show fairly random films and stuff like snowboarding during the course of a club night. Featuring most of the regular Coffee contributors at one point or another.

Drugs Night 2

A film by Steve Piper, featuring Spunky, Jonny D, Dave S, Steve Piper, Mark L, Natalie P, Gizmo and Lara. Zero budget 32 minute Hi-8 documentary follow up to the original; this greatly expanded on the first's groundwork, combining experimental shots with a rigid structure and some contrast from the non-inhaling new flatmates.


Lear Intro

Written by Shakespeare/Hadrian Garrard, Directed by Hadrian Garrard/Steve Piper, featuring Andrijana Miler, Nigel De Sousa, David Arbus, Polly Lee, Mark Stuart, Anna Carne, Steve Piper and Hadrian Garrard. Zero budget 9 minute Hi-8 black and white short; a demonstration edit of footage shot by the Naked Pony Theatre Company (see History for more on them) shortly before it's split in 1998. The film was conceived by Garrard to show a company of actors preparing for, then rehearsing, the opening sequence of Shakespeare's King Lear. This edit ran through an introductory credit sequence as a test run for the full edit.

Lear Run

Written by Shakespeare/Hadrian Garrard, Directed by Hadrian Garrard/Steve Piper, featuring Andrijana Miler, Nigel De Sousa, David Arbus, Polly Lee, Mark Stuart, and Anna Carne. Zero budget 10 minute Hi-8 black and white short, full version edited by Piper and Garrard in two nightmare shifts of 14 and 36 hours, this improved on the test run but showed some inexperience on the part of the creators (apart from Shakespeare of course; he was fine). Aspiring to broadcast quality, errors are apparent; largely due to the edit kit coming from Argos and falling apart, forcing panic repair with tinfoil and packaging tape. Featuring an amazing piece of totally obscure ambient techno music that we discovered on a mix tape and never found out who made it.


An Evening With...

A film by Steve Piper, featuring Spunky, Jonny D, Dave S, Steve Piper and Carl D. Zero budget 11 minute Hi-8 documentary, a Drugs Night spin off focusing on an extremely drunk and despondant Ben after a night out clubbing. Barely qualifying as a documentary it's complete lack of any real value besides entertainment stopped it from becoming part of the series, more of a factual comedy.

Drugs Night 3

A film by Steve Piper, featuring Spunky, Jonny D, Dave S, Steve Piper, Mark L, Natalie P and Karen M. Zero budget 25 minute Hi-8 documentary following the Drugs Night regular's first Christmas Dinner together, plus non-inhaling housemates and one girlfriend. Despite questionable food preparation techniques the film delivers the usual Drugs Night fare and was the first film to be cut on a new set of editing kit, the 'story' suffers marginally as a result with a very low key ending, nonetheless as entertaining as the rest of the series.


Drugs Night 4

A film by Steve Piper, featuring Dave S, Jonny D, Steve Piper, Chuffy, Rash Y, Mark M, Jim A, Mr. Bread, Matt B, Gary C, Dom W, Rye-Boy, Vicky, Barratt, Deano, Ollie, Turner, Dunc, Simon M, Pete, Adam, Dan B and Woody. Zero budget 63 minute Hi-8 documentary; technically the outstanding success of the series, part 4 runs over two days featuring a second Christmas dinner, the smoke that followed and the drug filled Millennium party that followed that. Superior in terms of editing techniques and storytelling this film experimented a lot with film speeds and post production effects, creating some pretty boss sequences. A two minute trailer was also cut featuring clips and out-takes from the final cut.

Gelli and Coffee

A film by Steve Piper, featuring Gelli and Coffee. Zero budget 1 minute Hi-8 short recorded as part of the collaborative multi-filmmaker One World One Minute project a year after the 9/11 strikes. There were no guidelines for this project but one of the main things we learned from the events of 9/11 was an appreciation for the good things in life and the things that we love; so filmmaker Steve took some footage of the two things dearest to his heart at the time; his girlfriend Gelli and their kitten Coffee.


Clever and Lonely

Directed and written by Ashwini Malik, produced by Ashwini Malik and Irene Dhar Malik, executive produced by Steve Piper, featuring Aamir Bashir and Nilanjana. A low budget feature length film shot in Mumbai by Trishflicks and released in association with Coffee Films. An award winning film that went under appreciated by many, shot at a time when Indian independent films simply didn't exist and technology was changing incredibly fast. Following two professionals in Mumbai and their developing relationship the Birmingham Film and TV Festival at least realised it's importance crediting it as the saviour of Indian indie, whilst Nilanjana picked up Best Actress at Dahlonega International Film Festival.

Around this time we also worked on a couple of untitled experimental shorts with Hadrian Garrard's Atman company, Hadrian moved on to build a music career working with Ed Harcourt and many others, and he was unfortunately lost to filmmaking!

Another side project was helping charity The Captive Animals Protection Society put together a short DVD to raise awareness of cruelty to circus animals, a cause they championed and have seen some action upon as circus animals are now banned in the UK.

This is also when we hung up the Hi-8 cameras and deck to deck editing equipment to start making full use of miniDV and NLE editing kit which started really levelling the filmmaking playing field with the Internet and YouTube following close behind. See what we did next back in the official filmography.