Foreign Correspondents

Foreign Correspondents

Cassava Films is an independent film production company founded by me, Mark Tapio Kines, in early 1997 to produce my first feature Foreign Correspondents (completed in 1999). I wrote and directed this romantic drama, which starred Melanie Lynskey, Wil Wheaton, Corin Nemec, and Yelena Danova. In early 1999, the film gained some press attention because it was the first to be partially "crowdfunded" over the Internet, years before the existence of sites like Kickstarter. (You can read more about this on the film's page on this site.) Foreign Correspondents was independently released in 2001 and is currently available on Netflix.

The second feature produced under the Cassava Films banner was Claustrophobia, shot in 2002 and completed in 2003. I wrote, produced, and directed this thriller, which starred Melanie Lynskey, Sheeri Rappaport, and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Claustrophobia was released in 2004 by Lionsgate, who unfortunately renamed it Serial Slayer. It too is currently available on Netflix.



Several short films have also been stamped with the Cassava Films imprimatur, most notably 2006's The Closest Thing to Time Travel, which won the Grand Prize in an international 60-second film competition sponsored by Getty Images.

The company's name comes from the cassava ("kah-SAH-vah") tree. The starchy root of this tree is the source of tapioca, a popular ingredient in American puddings and Chinese milkshakes. Tapioca, Tapio... you get it.



MTK, September 2014

I grew up in Cupertino, California – home of Apple. I graduated from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) with a BFA in film and an emphasis on experimental animation. I then moved to Los Angeles and began making a living as a graphic designer. For several years I worked as a web designer for numerous entertainment-related clients. I even spent four years as art director for Paramount Pictures' online division, where I oversaw the websites for Star Trek, Entertainment Tonight, and many others.

I made Foreign Correspondents while I was still working as a full-time designer, but in 2002 I quit Paramount in order to focus on Claustrophobia. Since then I have worked as a freelance writer, filmmaker, consultant, designer, and public speaker. In 2012, I was hired by lynda.com to write and host an online course called Screenwriting Fundamentals, which will hopefully be up forever. In 2014 I also began writing movie-related content – photo galleries, quizzes, etc. – for fandango.com.

I live in West Hollywood, California with my wife Miki and our cat Cricket.



The Updates section is basically a blog about the status of my various projects, as well as tales of my adventures as a filmmaker.

The Films section is, these days, focused on my short films, since they represent my most recent output. However, the section also includes pages dedicated to my first two features, Foreign Correspondents and Claustrophobia.

The List of 9 is an ongoing series of lists that I've been writing since late 1997. Generally updated twice a month, with topics ranging from movie trivia to celebrity factoids to even more random stuff, this was conceived as a regular old "Top 10" list, but as I was designing its original page on forcor.com, the photo I used at the top of the page only had nine people in it. I figured I'd just list nine items to match the photo, and thus the List of 9 was born.

The Reviews section is a collection of my own write-ups of current films. I've been churning these out since early 2000. I thought it would be interesting to share film criticism written by an actual filmmaker, and I still do.