Coffee Shop Dance Off – Elle Latham

I came up with Coffee Shop Dance Off a little under 2 months ago. I was getting restless in my not so burgeoning career and had the notion to come up with a sketch I could make involving my friends Dan Engel and Cat Doss. I had worked with them on two projects before; Super Awkward Fun Time (a little web show I created and invited Cat to cohost on several times) and DangleTV (Dan’s paparazzi show that I pretended to intern on in an over the top version of myself).

At the time I sat down to that table right across from Starbucks at Santa Monica and La Brea, I started to think of weird, funny things that occur in that kind of setting. I was listening to music on my phone at the time and then an idea popped into my head. It was crazy, dumb, simplistic, but different from anything I’d seen before. It consisted of two servers in a coffee shop that just started dancing, trying not to spill their coffees and one-upping each other.  Soon, I had a first draft script.

I had to think of a song to play during the dance off. The first song that came to mind was Starships by Nicki Minaj.  But I had to let that one go fast due to copyright and all that shit. It sucked cuz I thought that would’ve been hilarious. The irony is the song I ended up going with had someone claiming copyright even though the composer had been dead for over 80 years. I didn’t do the math. Okay. Anyway, that’s another issue entirely. The point is I couldn’t use Starships even though I thought it was perfect for the short.

Then, I focused on casting. I already knew I was playing Patron #1. That wasn’t negotiable. The problem was finding the dancers and seeing if Cat could play Patron #2. When I told her about the project and the part, she quickly said yes. I offered her no money but did ask for help producing since she had more experience in that area whereas I had zilch. She was an asset to me in the producing process and was made Associate Producer. I soon asked Dan if he’d DP for me as well as edit, knowing how good he was at both. He said yes. I told him I couldn’t pay him and he still said yes. So now, I needed two dancer/actors who were male and a location.

I tried to think about a restaurant that might let me film there without charge and quickly found Doomie’s, a little vegan/vegetarian restaurant I had been frequenting for the last two years. It was perfect.

Then, I approached Doomie, the owner, and he told me projects had been filmed there before and that it was cool if we did. I’m paraphrasing, of course. I thought SWEET! Location acquired.  I still needed dancers. At the same time, my AP Cat Doss asked if I could make Doomie a character in the short and so a second draft script was written in which he would announce the winner of the dance off as himself, basically. I named him Manager, of course. While I was at it, I decided to create a character for my DP Dan and give him the tag at the end referencing that infamous scene in Where Harry Met Sally when Reiner’s mother said she’d have what Sally was having. [Read more...]