Brewing for Rude Dudes

Spiritual Cinema Circle

Where did the idea for the film originate? Were you a barista? Was Tara based on a real person?

The idea for this film definitely arose from personal experiences as a baristo and what I learned from having to deal with rude customers on a regular basis. Initially, negative interactions with rude customers would greatly affect me. Eventually, I learned to let things of that nature go and realize that some things were simply out of my control, that all I could really do is maintain a positive attitude. Still, there were times when, just like Tara, I would fantasize about saying the right thing to get back at rude customers. I would joke and relate stories to fellow baristos and baristas, but would ultimately be able to let even the worst circumstances go. So on that note, Tara the Crusader is very much a fantasy made into a film. It’s for everyone that ever had to endure undeserved scorn or rudeness. It’s really a film about social and interpersonal awareness. As for Tara herself, she wasn’t based on a real person, but I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a character that both male and female audiences could connect with.

You seem to have a lot of fun with superhero cliches, like the flimsy disguise, the crowd applause, the people yakking about the exploits, etc. Is the film saying something about superheroes, or more broadly about popular culture?

This is a very great question. I think it was initially my production designer, Talia Brahms, that noticed this trend in the script. Once it was identified, we decided to go with it, albeit subtly. Tara would begin dressing and acting like a superhero once she discovered that strangers supported her behavior. We made a very conscious choice to make sure that her first disguise and later, second disguise, would lead perfectly into her third and last disguise seen in the film. In largely every superhero origin movie, the hero goes through progressively improving costumes before donning his or her final iconic outfit. In that sense, we wanted to visually show Tara’s descent into madness, in addition to her change in behavior. The film is more about how we tend to view ourselves when we think we are doing the right thing. More so, it’s about how our behavior can compound when encouraged by others. In Tara’s case, she grows power hungry when she realizes she has the support of strangers around her. Her behavior is at once commendable and condemnable because, in a way, she’s doing the right thing, but it’s the manner in which she does it that ultimately leads to her almost-downfall. In Mrs. Anderson’s case, her rude behavior is reinforced when others let her have her way. I think superheroes, whether real or fictional, depend on the support of their communities. The difference between a hero or a villain is that communal support. It seems like my generation, millennials, often encourage each other to do what Tara does: act in their own interest without care for consequence or repercussion, to be true to themselves. With that mindset, encouraging a certain type of behavior can be disastrous.

Was it important to have an older actress in the part of the “villain”? In other words, does age play a part in the kind of behavior that she exhibited?

Mrs. Anderson’s age wasn’t necessary to the film, but I do believe it plays a part in the interpretation of the film. If Mrs. Anderson were younger and closer in age to Tara, the film would be about intragenerational differences and more about two characters simply being at odds. By making Mrs. Anderson older, the topic of the film becomes intergenerational, it opens up the conversation on how previous and current generations might view each other.

Do you think rudeness is always explainable or excusable?

The thing about rudeness is that it applies differently to every individual. We often don’t know if we are offending someone or showing them disrespect. What one person may find rude another may find to be normal behavior. There are also various levels of rudeness, and those levels will be tolerated differently by each individual. So, yes, I think rudeness can always be explainable and excusable, it just depends on the interpretation of the person experiencing it. Hanging on to or exponentiating rude events could be bad for your health.

Is there a message in the film for our members?

Tara the Crusader was made as an awareness film. It’s about putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes and being more aware and respectful of others. Ultimately, I believe every good film should have a message in addition to being entertaining. So I hope they enjoy the film, appreciate the message and find it worthwhile.

How have audiences reacted to Tara?

I’ve only had the pleasure of personally screening Tara the Crusader at a few venues, but the reaction has been positive. Audiences appreciate Tara as a strong female lead with notable flaws. She’s got room to grow and is very relatable, particularly to audiences that have worked in customer service. It’s always nerve-racking watching the film with audiences knowing that a comedic moment is coming up, because you’ll never know how the audience will react. When they burst out in laughter it’s always a relief. I remember watching a screening and the whole audience “ooohhh”-ed when Mrs. Anderson walked into the SHOTS! coffee shop. They knew what was coming and what Tara was about to do. To date I have never had an experience like that, knowing that I had managed to get them invested. For that I’m thankful.

Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

I just want to say thanks Spiritual Cinema Circle for showcasing my short! And also thanks to my producer Josh Fapp, 1st AD Cutter White, cinematographer Mary Omel, editor Oscar Vazquez (who’s an editing wizard), composer Magnum Nadal and executive producer Kent Hayward. In addition, everyone who donated their time to make a small screenplay a reality.

Anything unusual about the shoot, or post?

Due to budget and time constraints we only had 3 and a half days to shoot the film. I love coverage and I’ll always get as much as possible, which is something an editor always appreciates, but for my 1st AD and cinematographer, Cutter White and Mary Omel (Hanson) respectively, getting that coverage put pressure on everyone, particularly when each day consisted of about 30-40 different shots and set-ups. I think we had about 5 minutes for each shot and it didn’t help that I insisted on shooting every scene in its entirety once a new angle was set-up, in addition to getting 3—5 takes each time. But they held on and made it work. I don’t know how they did it. We were loading trucks and rolling until the very last minute of each shoot day.

What are you working on now?

At the moment, I’m focusing on more artistically and visually-driven short films, featuring athletic practices such as ballet and aerials. Currently in the works is a short film called Roomies, about a girl who inadvertently goes on a murderous rampage when she can’t convince her roommate to clean up after herself.

Please tell us a little bit about your background and career.

Sure! I was born in Mexico City but grew up in Orange County, California from the age of 4. I attended California State University, Long Beach where I majored in Narrative Production--their accelerated film degree program focuses on everything from set operations to screenwriting and production management.

I worked as a baristo all throughout college and was finally able to get a start in television when my producer and close friend, Josh Fapp, was able to get me a gig as a Post-PA on a reality gameshow series for VH1. I’ve been working as a post-coordinator on multiple shows for BET and VH1 ever since, while working on short films and media to submit to festivals.

Comments

I like this film. In the end

I like this film. In the end it shows that connection is more important than being right and more effective. Tara was a real Warrior because she overcame her need for vengeance.