June 26 is an anniversary of sorts: it is the day, in 1996, when each of the two stories in my film Foreign Correspondents begins. So to celebrate this fictional birthday, here is more trivia – consider this a sequel to a list I wrote last year – that will hopefully also shed a little light on the indie filmmaking process.
- Just feet away from each other. June 26, 1996: Over a year before she was cast in ForCor, Russian actress Yelena Danova was working as a waitress at the now-defunct Cafe Figaro in West Hollywood. Unbeknownst to her, at that very moment her future writer/director Mark Tapio Kines (me) was slaving away making websites at BoxTop Interactive... right next door. (This same restaurant was filmed that summer for the scene in Jerry Maguire in which Tom Cruise loses his job.)
- The vanishing investors. I have been getting a lot of email lately from people curious as to how I raised so much money over the Internet. Well, it hasn't always come through. In fact, I believe well over twenty people sent me unsolicited emails, announcing that they would like to invest... and then they never wrote again. Really, why bother?
- Film predicts actress' future. A line in the ForCor screenplay has an old man telling Melody (Melanie Lynskey) that perhaps she might go to France someday. Sure enough, Lynskey wound up in France just two months later, working on the film Ever After.
- French props. Conversely, the first major props obtained for the film – postcards and envelopes – were sent to me from a man in France. And the last major prop obtained for the film – a very special photograph used at the end – was sent to me over a year later, by Melanie Lynskey, while she herself was in France. Entirely appropriate for a story about somebody receiving letters from France.
- Personal props. In keeping with the realism of the film, as well as with an eye on expenses, some props (and much of the wardrobe) belonged to the actors themselves. At the opening of the first story, we see many photos on Melody's wall – some of which were actual snapshots of Melanie Lynskey's friends (including her old dog!). Likewise, at the similar opening of the second story, two photos on Mira's wall were of Yelena Danova's real-life parents.
- Mark's props. When you need free props for a film, look no further than the director. Along with a card table, a television set, and actual letters I had received from penpals, my car was used in the film as Melody's car. But because Lynskey herself can't drive, off-camera hands had to push the car as she was "driving" through traffic.
- Art imitating life. The apartment building in Los Angeles where Jonas (Wil Wheaton) and Melody meet was also the home of friends of the film's executive producer Jamie Tost. The occupants' names? Jason (an anagram for Jonas) and, yes, Melody. Complete coincidence. Weirder still, this Jason was also a buddy of Corin Nemec's.
- You again! Stars Melanie Lynskey and Corin Nemec only met once – on the very first day of production. They didn't see each other for nearly two years, until bumping into each other in June, 1999... at an audition for Scream 3.
- Teen dreams. Back in 1986, When I was just 16 and first harbored thoughts of becoming a filmmaker, I asked myself which well-known young actor I would choose to play me in a film. My teenage choice? Wil Wheaton. (Note: Wil's character is not based on me, despite rumors.)