Andrew Carter and Kahlil Maskati spoke with Solzy at the Movies about short film Marvin’s Never Had Coffee Before during SXSW.
As the title states, Marvin Wexler (Charles Rogers) has never had coffee before. This film was shot during the pandemic and doesn’t ignore it. I better warn you now if you’re suffering from Zoom fatigue and want to move on to other short films. Anyway, Marvin is trying coffee for the first time and he wants to talk with anybody willing to listen to him. Does he succeed? You’ll just have to watch the film!
Carter directs from a script co-written with Maskati. Charles Rogers leads a cast that includes Annie Sertich, Aaron Lamarr Burleson, Nirav Bhakta, Elizabeth Franco, Grant Reed, Malgosia Tolak, and Malcolm Nicholas.
How thrilled are you to be premiering Marvin’s Never Had Coffee Before during SXSW?
We’re beyond thrilled. This is our second time here and it’s our favorite film festival in the country. It really showcases unique voices, and we’re honored to be included!
You’ve previously been to SXSW. What’s the one thing that you’re missing the most with not being in Austin?
Andrew Carter: The barbecue and watching the films with a crowd at the Drafthouse or the Paramount Theater. Can’t wait to do that again.
Kahlil Maskati: This is an easy one. The barbecue. I’m not even that big on it, and still, it was amazing. My favorite story to tell is that Andrew skipped a networking session to go to Franklin’s.
What was the genesis behind the script?
Andrew Carter: I didn’t have my first cup of coffee till I was 30. I never got it. I’m 32 now and I’ve had a few cups. One random day last August, I had a cup, then got in the car to run an errand. I called about six people on my phone and no one answered. I found this funny and a little sad. Here I was, all caffeinated up & wanting to talk to someone, and no one cared. I called Kahlil the next day and said “I think this could be a weird character study and a funny short film.”
Kahlil Maskati: When Andrew came to me with the idea, I loved it, and I also wanted to ground it in loneliness. I’ve lived alone during this pandemic, so I wanted to try to infuse it with a lot of that. It’s the biggest compliment when people say it’s relatable, and that it’s one of the few “COVID” stories they actually like.
I’m a caffeine addict but I’ve never actually drank coffee or tea before. That’s mot going to be changing anytime soon. However, I do like that Charles Rogers is in the film. How did the cast come together?
We were lucky enough to attend a Sundance Lab in 2019 where Charles did a panel and Q&A for the fellows, so we met him for the first time there. In summer 2020 we were thinking of actors we wanted to cast in our (soon-to-be-shot) first feature film called CAMCORDERS, and we wanted to get in touch with one of the actors on Search Party. Charles was gracious enough to put us in touch, and then the four of us had a Zoom call. We had just written the Marvin script and were figuring out who to cast, and everything Charles said on the Zoom just felt like Marvin. He was hilarious and authentic. We reached out to him hours after the Zoom call, and later that day he signed on.
What were the challenges of shooting the film and doing post-production during a pandemic?
Andrew Carter: Honestly, we’re used to working with skeleton crews and this was no different. But Kahlil ran sound instead of a sound person, and he deserves praise for that. It was just me, Kahlil, our brilliant DP Pat and Charles on the set. Post-production was pretty much the same too except instead of doing one in-person spotting session for sound design, we had to do it over Zoom.
Kahlil Maskati: Yup. We all tested negative, showed up, and wore masks. Pretty simple!
How would Marvin act if he were to attend a non-pandemic SXSW for the first time?
Andrew Carter: He would probably see every single movie (literally every single one, I don’t know how he’d do it but he would do it) or he’d wait in line at every top-rated barbecue place, eat till he puked, buy the merch, and then spend the day talking to random people in lounges about the films he watched and the bbq he devoured. He’d be trying to make friends. OR, if this takes place AFTER our short, he’d…
Kahlil Maskati: I think as soon as Marvin is vaccinated, he’ll run through the streets and imagine himself in Sound of Music or something haha! If he were at SXSW 2022, he’d probably get business cards from everyone at the festival and reach out, but then no one would respond.
Outside of making this film, how have you managed to keep busy during the pandemic?
Andrew Carter: We’re lucky to be in a partnership where we hold each other accountable with our work. In addition to making this film, we’ve written three TV pilots, two features, and are constantly talking about/outlining other ideas.
Kahlil Maskati: Like Andrew said, our default mode is busy! Admittedly, new ideas are harder to come by when we’re all cooped up inside. But, for me personally, diving into writing manuscripts and graphic novels has been really fun. There was a time I thought this whole film thing might never be the same, but it looks like I’ll be wrong about that!
What do you hope people take away from watching Marvin’s Never Had Coffee Before?
Andrew Carter: I hope people laugh and relate to Marvin, and walk away thinking “coffee really IS overrated.”
Kahlil Maskati: The viewers in our live chat said it better than I could. Our short is about wanting people to like you. We’re all a little more weird and desperate than we’d like to admit, especially right now. And I hope this film helps people realize that your people will find you. And when they do, it won’t be because of a hobby or trend you follow, it will be because of you.