What was the inspiration behind making this short film?
The concept for ‘Old Hearts Cafe’ has been floating around in my noggin since I was a kid. I thought the expression “Young at heart” was somewhat funny. You know how as people get older seeming young is a compliment, but when we tell a young person they are wise beyond their years, that is also a compliment? Why is it desirable for the elderly to seem young, and the young to seem old? I pondered this as a kid. So the name Old Hearts was born into my consciousnesses. As for the cafe, as I got older I became enamored with cafes and spending time in them. So the three words joined and it became an imaginary cafe that I alluded to in my scripts, poems, and it was also the name of a radio program I had on a college station. I eventually wrote a pilot script about the characters who frequent the cafe, and the character in this short, Markus Montage, is one of those people. Markus Montage, the dishwasher, was the only employee though. The other characters were all customers. It was originally a sketch comedy show and this short film was just one of the sketches. I also wrote Markus Montage for a friend originally, but years passed, he moved, and I decided to play the role myself. He has become my favorite character.
Was there any particular challenges you had to go through to make the short film happen?
Assembling a crew. It took years. And I am primarily an actor so I put ‘Old Hearts Cafe’ on the back burner for quite some time. Then in 2016, some filmmaker friends who liked the Markus character said they would help me make it. It’s funny, pre-production took years, but actual production was only two days and then one day for editing.
How has the short film been received?
It took some time to get noticed, but within the last few years it has received numerous awards and has been selected by film festivals all over the world. It has been a long journey, but it has gotten its share of critical acclaim, and is continuing to do so.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I’m currently writing, directing, producing, and acting in a new web series called ‘Zoom Shorts’ which has been an absolute joy. Each episode tells a different story about people video calling each other. It was born out of the quarantine period of the COVID world where we couldn’t be onset. My friend Karen Klami and my dad Burnham Holmes were brainstorming about ways to stay creative, and Karen came up with the concept. It’s a wonderful way to collaborate with actors from all over the world. All episode stories are written by us, and most episodes are primarily improvised and self-recorded by the actors, and then edited by us. Check it out on YouTube and Vimeo!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make their first short film?
Go for it! It’s all about telling stories. Along the way you may make some mistakes, but mistakes are just more stories to tell later. Read, learn, but most importantly, try things out. I personally am an experimental filmmaker and I rarely know what works and what might not work until I try. I also love collaboration. I feel like much of my inspiration comes from other people–their ideas, their passion, their energy. That’s why I am so open to ideas when I am directing, and why I often co-write and co-direct. And even when I am the sole director, I love taking suggestions from the actors. Also, watch films. Even films that aren’t your personal style or taste. Inspiration can come from unusual places.