Archived Interview: Brandon Loper

Brandon Loper is the director of a beautifully crafted film about coffee.

I had the opportunity to sit down with director, Brandon Loper a few months back to discuss his featured length movie, “A Film About Coffee“. The film follows the story of speciality coffee’s search for that allusive, perfect cup of coffee and the people that make that happen.

I had been following the films tour schedule for a while and in July they announced that the film would be shown at the historic Vista Theater in Los Feliz, only a few blocks from where we live.

I reached out to Brandon’s producer to see if he would have any free time for a portrait session and brief interview while he was in Los Angeles. Thankfully, they replied and we met up a few days later at Deus Ex Machina in Venice.

He currently resides in San Francisco with his wife and daughter where we works as a commercial director. His interest in speciality coffee began a few years back, after coming across Blue Bottle in Lindon Alley. From there he started exploring a new world of coffee that he hadn’t been exposed to in his native state of Alabama.

Sadly, there weren’t any great coffee shops in my hometown at the time. Blue Bottle was definitely my introduction to a more serious cup of coffee…. The taste is what kept me coming back. The intrigue and wonder was what first introduced me. Soon after them I was introduced to Ritual and Four Barrel…and now it feels like there’s a new place opening every month.

After the success of his short film, “Unwieldy Beast” he decided to take on a feature length film. But didn’t want to go the typical route of shooting on a Canon 5D and posting it to Vimeo like everyone else in the freakin’ world.

And unlike most people, he opted not to go the Kickstarter route. Instead, he partnered up with Avocados and Coconuts, a production company in SF who ended up funding the film.

We did it for a low budget because no one got paid. It’s a true passion project. When no one cares about making money, initially at least and you have someone who can help support you in that, you can do really amazing things. That’s been an incredible journey….And as a filmmaker, I got to tell the story that I wanted to tell without any outside influence. And that’s rare.

Beyond the film itself, I had a great experience watching it in a sold out theater, packed with the crazy cool people that populate the Los Angeles coffee scene. It was also nice to have a few of those featured in the film present in the audience. Both Darrin Daniel of Allegro Coffee and Michael Phillips of Handsome Coffee/Blue Bottle were present and took part in a Q&A alongside Brandon after the screening. Kyle Glanville of G&B and Go Get Em Tiger was there as well serving up some tasty drinks prior to the showing.

So how did I feel about the film: I freakin’ loved it.

It was immediately clear that a commercial director helmed this film. The timing, soundtrack and photography were all on point. I also felt that he balanced the film well in showing not only the craftsmanship that baristas put into our daily coffee but also the care and attention the farmers place in growing the beans.

The names and faces behind brands such as Blue Bottle, Stumptown and Ritual play a large role in the film and it was good to see how involved these specialty coffee companies are with the sourcing of the beans through the relationships they’ve developed with the farmers. I give props to Stumptown for building a new water well at the request of one of the farms that not only benefited the production of the coffee beans but also gave fresh water to the villagers.

One of the coolest cats in the film had to be Katsuyuki Tanaka from Bear Pond Espresso in Japan. Let’s just say the dude sort of steals the show. Brandon mentioned that Tanaka, probably not so jokingly, told him that the whole movie should be about him alone! Gotta love that.

I could go on an on about all of the crazy cool characters that are featured in this film but I’m not a movie critic. I just love coffee culture and I wholeheartedly feel that this movie is worth your time.

Lastly, I must apologize to Mr Loper for the delay in releasing this interview. As mentioned above, I met him in July and originally meant to release this in August. But on August 12th my wife and I welcomed the birth of our daughter Paloma and my plans changed. Oh, and did I mention that she was born 16 days late so that was crazy stressful itself. I decided to step away from this site for a while as we adjusted to our new life of sleepless nights and and our home being run on the feeding and diaper changing schedule of a 10 pound little human being. Let’s just say that a crazy amount of coffee has been consumed since her birth. But I’m okay with that.