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High Noon at Cubist Cafe

An independent feature film: Six conversations between a neurotic young man and a series of eccentric strangers - written, directed, produced and edited by Julian Joseph.

High Noon at Cubist Cafe Teaser Trailer

A teaser trailer edited together in the summer before release.

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The Story of Cubist Cafe

High Noon at Cubist Café began life with Julian Joseph embarking on a personal project: to have coffee with as many strangers as possible. He was interested in the idea that one of these encounters could potentially lead to a friendship or at the very least an interesting story, and if not there was nothing to lose. This stemmed from a long time fascination with how conversations and human relationships work. How do you really get to know a stranger? Is it learning about their day-to-day life and their background? Questions like: “What do you do?” and “Where are you from?” Does it involve reaching some sort of deeper level of conversation? Is it a case simply of spending a certain amount of time with a person?

Joseph also took inspiration for the film from Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), a film consisting of disconnected conversations over coffee. He was fascinated with the way each vignette could explore incredibly funny, interesting and well-crafted character pieces while being essentially plotless. The initial idea for Cubist Café involved borrowing this structure but adding a reoccurring character. Also, where Coffee and Cigarettes used black and white to create striking visuals he wanted to make use of colour and took inspiration from stylised ‘new quirk’ films of the 00’s. The second major influence was Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie (1962) – particularly in the film’s use of episodic structure and deliberate, considered formal experimentation.

With these ideas in mind, Joseph wrote Cubist Café over the course of a week in the Easter of 2013. As the idea was in theory simple to execute and would more or less only require one actor to be there for more than one scene, he planned to film the script by the end of the summer.

Previous collaborator and fellow Dundee University student Jonathan Keddie came on board as co-producer and they auditioned actors – many from the Dundee University's LIP Theatre society. With the cast selected Joseph and Keddie began a process of intensive rehearsals over a month followed by shooting in cafes and bars across the city.

Around 75% of the film was shot when the first disaster struck. The film’s lead actor suddenly dropped out and cut off contact with all the cast and crew. With certain key scenes unfilmed, the movie could not be finished and as this was a no budget production there was little that could be done but wait.

By the end of the summer there was still no contact and after much discussion Joseph and Keddie decided to bite the bullet and start again. Learning from previous mistakes, they employed a revamped and streamlined rehearsal and production process. Cast members that were happy to continue on did so and a second round of auditions was held to replace the rest. Calum Hodgson was chosen to play the lead character Tom, bringing a softer and more intimate portrayal of the role.

The film was shot again in the winter of 2013. However with all but a few scenes completed, in superior and practised form, disaster struck again in the form of a hard drive failing and a broken laptop. The combination of these events resulted in all but Joseph Black’s scenes being lost. This was an enormous blow and after months trying to recover the work, the effort was eventually abandoned.

Despite this, through belief in the script and the quality of work on the film so far, various supportive and eager cast and crew members convinced Joseph not to give up and try again. After a break finishing work for the semester and time spent writing a significantly more fleshed out and climactic final sequence, production re-commenced in the summer of 2014 and again in the winter through to January 2015.

After another break while many of the cast and crew finished university –a new and more fleshed out version of ‘Mark’s story’ was filmed in the summer of 2015. The rest of the summer was spent editing and re-editing the film, along with writing Cubist Café’s music with Simon “Spazzy” McGee and other collaborators.

In October 2015 the first completed cut of the film was done. It was shown to its first audience the following month in the Frankland Screening Room of Dundee University and was met with a standing ovation.

At this stage however, Joseph was enrolled in a postgraduate art degree at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. Here he began work on developing an experimental process for the creation of his next film Dance Music. With this new project taking up all of his time for the next two years and without the money to submit Cubist Café to film festivals, the film has been seen only through the internet and through sporadic screenings in flats and at Duncan of Jordanstone.

Joseph is now prepping the film into be sent to festivals.