The Story: “Following in his ancestor’s footsteps, a lone barista enters Sydney’s café belt in search of love, fortune and the perfect cup of espresso.”
The second in the trilogy, El Macchiato is an inner-city spaghetti western that borrows heavily from Japanese samurai films of the 50’s and 60’s.
Screenings and awards:
• Finalist - Tropfest 1998
• Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography - 1998 Sydney New Film And Video Awards.
• Finalist - 1998 Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Turkey
• Finalist - [V] Shorts, Channel V, Foxtel
• Finalist - 1998 Café Nescafé Short Film Awards
Television sales include:
• Canal+ France
• Canal+ International
• thecomedychannel - Foxtel, Australia
- Could I have a small picture of you to place with this interview?
Yes, you may.
- Did you go to film school?
I didn’t. I was lucky enough to get a job as a camera assistant in a local TV station
just after graduating from high school. It was great on the job training and as I had access
to cameras, film stock and processing, I began to make stupid short films with my school
friends. It was a lot of fun.
- Did you do other jobs on film sets before becoming a director?
I worked (and still sometimes work) as Director of Photography.
- If you could work with anyone either living or dead, who would it be and why?
I am a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch. I would have loved the opportunity to observe them at work. Wonderful film makers.
- What do you like the most about your job and what’s the worst?
The thing I love most about my job is that I’m always traveling. The thing I hate most about my job is that I’m always traveling…
Question about the short film `El Macchiato´:
- Did you used to go to the cinema on Saturdays as a kid to see the Westerns? Is that where part of the inspiration came from?
Come on, I’m not that old! I got into Sergio Leone films when I was in my early 20’s, my friends and I used to watch them late at night on DVD. I guess I got into them because I love Akira Kurosawa and a number of his samurai films have been made into westerns (Yojimbo into Leone’s “Fist Full of Dollars” and Seven Samurai into John Sturges’ “The Magnificent Seven”).
- How long does something like this take to film?
El Macchiato was just a crazy, short, fun thing I did with a bunch of friends. We shot it over maybe three or four weeks - a few hours at a time - whenever people were available. We shot all of Brett’s scenes in a fairly compressed schedule as he wasn’t being paid and I didn’t want to take up too much of his time. We shot in Sydney and at the time Brett was living in Melbourne (about 700kms away). I think he flew up two or three times during the shoot.
- The credits said that the minister was played by a real one, what was the reason that this minister choose to participate?
The Preacher is a very dear friend of mine, Bill Lawton. He was the priest at St. John’s church in Darlinghurst, Sydney, where we shot a number of the scenes. My wife (Sonja Johansson, who plays Conchita in the film) and I lived next door to the church for over ten years and that’s how we initially became friends with Bill. He was so generous allowing us to film in the church and his performance still makes me laugh every time I see it. I miss him terribly.
- El Macchiato is the 2nd film of a Coffee Trilogy. What inspired the 'Coffee Trilogy’? Did you spend much time in coffee shops as you made a series of short films on this theme?
The Coffee Trilogy (Midnight Espresso, El Macchiato and Dial L for Latté), were made for a short film festival called Tropfest. It began in a small café in Darlinghurst called the Tropicana, which was frequented by many young, aspiring film makers. The festival’s original intention was to get us off our lazy butts and make films rather than just talking about it. It was all about the idea, rather than big budgets and glossy execution. The three films in the trilogy only cost $450, $150 and $1500 respectively to make!
- Someone noticed a vague Cinderella theme going on as well as the Western theme with Conchita as Cinderella, Consuela as the ugly sister and the Barista as sort of a Prince Charming - was this intentional?
To a point. Most westerns have classic themes derived from sources such as Greek mythology, fairy tales and folk lore. I was intentionally parodying Spaghetti Westerns (and Robert Rodriguez’s wonderful “El Mariachi”), so by default, I guess I was referencing classic tales as well.
Questions about working together with Brett:
- What was it that you liked about Brett that you wanted to work with him?
How I first met Brett is one of my favorite stories of all time. The day I was scheduled to begin production of Midnight Espresso, my lead actor, who had been vacationing overseas, arrived back in the country with a severe case of Chicken Pox. As I was very much a one man production crew, I had many things to worry about (The first scene we were shooting was a giant gun battle in the Tropicana - with real guns!) and at that stage, not having a leading man was one of many.
The lead actor had to have a fairly high profile, as I had already talked a stellar cast of well known Australian actors into taking part. I had met earlier in the day with a friend who was a casting director and Brett was one of the first names he mentioned. I was a huge fan of Brett’s work and thought he’d be perfect but then my casting director pointed out that he had moved to Melbourne, so we ruled him out.
A few hours later, as our shoot time rapidly approached, I was taking letters around to all the neighbouring businesses informing them that there would be live (blank) gunfire occurring during the evening (as was a requirement of the police). I entered a café across the road from the Tropicana (Bar Coluzzi, where we later filmed El Macchiato) and Brett was sitting there drinking coffee! I thought it was too much of a coincidence, so I introduced myself and told him what I was doing. It turned out that he had been in Sydney for a meeting earlier that day and was killing an hour before he had to go to the airport for his flight home. He immediately agreed to take the role, rescheduled his flight and was acting in my film hours later!
- You already told me that you’ve worked together with Brett on other projects as well. Could you tell us more about those?
Midnight Espresso and El Macchiato were the two projects we did together. I developed a feature film and TV series with roles for which I had Brett in mind but unfortunately, they never got made.
- If you have to describe Brett in a few phrases, what would those be?
Brett is one of my favorite people in the world and I wish I had had the chance to work with him more often (I now live in New York, so it’s kind of difficult). He is generous and dedicated, a tireless worker, a gifted actor and a wonderful human being.
- Would you like to work with Brett again in the future?
Nothing would make me happier.
On a lucky day I came across an internet site that said Brett was in this short movie. Also found an email address of the director Michael Condran so I emailed him for some more information and making sure the information I found was true. It was and it also turned out that Michael is a very friendly and sweet person who loved to help me out. So I asked if he was willing to do an online interview and he was. So here you can read the interview and I just wanted to thank everyone for thinking with me to come up with these questions and also thank you Michael for giving such great answers!!
Brett Climo as Barista in El Macchiato