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 won some publicity because it was the first to be (partly) crowdfunded over the Internet, long before the term "crowdfunding" even existed. (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 retitled it Serial Slayer. It too is currently available on Netflix.



Several short films have also been made under the Cassava Films imprimatur, including 2006's The Closest Thing to Time Travel, which won the Grand Prize in an international 60-second film competition sponsored by Getty Images, and 2015's 20 Matches, which screened at several major film festivals including Seattle, Nashville, Sarasota, Ashland, and Bucheon.

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 in 2022

I grew up in Cupertino, California and 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, culminating in four years at Paramount Pictures as the art director for their online division.

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 writer, filmmaker, consultant, designer, and public speaker. In 2012, I was hired by Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) to write and host an online screenwriting course. After many successful years and happy students, the course was archived in 2022.

Until my next film idea comes along, I've been very busy working on L.A. Street Names, a large personal project in which I research and write about the origins of street names throughout Los Angeles County.

I live in LA with my wife Miki and our two cats.



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

The Films section is currently focused on my short films, as 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 a series of lists that I've been writing since late 1997. Once updated twice a month, with topics ranging from movie trivia to celebrity factoids to even more random stuff, this was conceived as a typical "Top 10" list, but as I was designing its original page on forcor.com, the photo I used at the top of the page 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. I have admittedly slacked off on new lists lately as the Web has exploded with listmakers, so it's been nearly impossible to come up with list ideas that haven't already been done to death. I've also been overwhelmingly focused on L.A. Street Names.

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