As Simple As Coffee | Short Film / by Ryan Lee

Media project for the Voice for the Voiceless DTS 2014 by the India//Nepal Team. Our team wanted to explore how coffee witnesses so many types and instances of human relation and how that can transcend culture, belief, and differences throughout the world.

This film was actually part of a school-wide project in my training school at the University of the Nations (Kona). The assignment was to as an outreach group collaborate and produce a piece that would touch on a subject we would be covering while overseas. The challenge was we had less than three days to do so.

Going into this project, I actually wanted to take a step back from the action, as I had some other things I was hoping to work on in the midst of this whole thing. However, I saw no one within the team was really taking any initiative to lead the direction of the project, except for our team leaders (who actually weren't technically even allowed to help). I thought I would facilitate the discussion by critically thinking about what we were trying to express.

Our team will be staying and working with a Brazilian coffee house in Nepal, so we came into consensus that we should try and do something relating to that during this exercise. Immediately, I was struck with this concept of what kind of conversations and relations a coffee mug sees throughout the day. This flow of thought sparked everyone's interest, but proved to be a much more challenging concept than what the others were expecting to work with. Seeing as I was the one who pitched this concept, I felt responsible to not only see it through but make sure it communicated what we wanted to in a moving and effective way.

We spent lots of time planning and storyboarding, rewriting the script to make sure everything the film would be encompassed what we were trying to express. Because we were on such a short deadline, the actual shoot proved to be very rushed, but we managed to get it done, just in time. Personally, I don't work very politely under pressure so it was difficult to stay positive in the midst of my own stress. It was even harder to try and direct and provide opportunities to contribute for nine other people. Although we could have been smoother or more efficient at times, overall, I think we all grew both in our knowledge of our craft as well as in the dynamic of our work interaction as a team.

Though difficult, this project was very enjoyable and is one of the few that I have worked on to actually turn out pretty spot on to what was first envisioned, which is a very encouraging thing.


Ryan Christopher Lee: Director, Producer, Editor, Director of Photography, Cinematographer, Co-Writer

Music by Luke Palter

Special Thanks to:

Natalie Anderson, Sophia Schweizer, Emily Moore, Hannah Davidson, Anna Tolan, Victoria Madison, Seonkyung Park, Brennan Priest, Hee Jong Kim, Mike DeMarco, the students of the V4V DTS 2014 and the University of the Nations-Kona.