Photo courtesy of Jake Alda Coffey '15
It all started with a dream. Jake Alda Coffey ’15 wanted to make a short film, and a month after graduating from Forman School, he was funded through Kickstarter and had the means to create it. This micro budget short film titled Table for Two about a fictitious dinner conversation between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby the night before John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
“I publicized my Kickstarter heavily on social media because that was the best way for it to get noticed. Our goal budget was $1,800. At first, mostly family and friends were backing my project, but as the deadline neared, more strangers began to support it as well and we successfully reached our goal with 10 backers,” Coffey says. “I was a bit surprised when we finally got funded. There was a small stretch of time when no one was donating as we were nearing the deadline. But then, three days before the deadline, someone donated very generously to officially get us funded.” In fact, Coffey even went slightly over his goal, raising a total of $1,883.
Beyond the accomplishment of completing the film, Table For Two was accepted into three film festivals including the Union City International Film Festival, the Miami Independent Film Festival, and the monthly Online Film Festival. His film received over 200 votes for the Online Film Festival in October 2015.
The inspiration behind Table for Two came long before its creation when Coffey was a junior at Forman. “I wanted to make an animated short film with movie-making software that I had been using for years. I had always loved history, so I wanted to do a historical fiction piece,” he explains. “The JFK assassination was the first idea that popped into my head because there were so many conspiracy theories surrounding it. It took me about two months to make the animated version and I showed it to the entire school at assembly.” The film received a positive response, and Coffey’s classmates made comments for the rest of the year about how much they enjoyed it. “That's when I decided that I wanted to make a live action version,” he says.
This interest in film began when Coffey was a child. “At a very young age, I thought I wanted to be an actor because everyone in my family were actors,” he remembers. Coffey’s grandfather, award-winning actor Alan Alda, spoke at Forman Commencement in May 2015. This desire to act evolved as Coffey got older. “As I would watch movies at the cinema, I would always be amazed by the filmmaking of the films. Plus, I enjoyed making movies more than acting in them. When I was nine, I received a computer game called ‘The Movies Game.’ The objective of the game is to build a movie studio from the ground up. In the game, I could decorate my studio and film movies. It was very fun for me. Playing this game was when I realized that I was more suited for filmmaking.”
Upon arriving at Forman School, Coffey’s work in film had begun to drop off. “When I first came to Forman, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to pursue in college. I stopped acting and I had barely made any films to show to colleges for when I applied,” he says. But it was two dedicated faculty members who helped guide Coffey back towards his passion. “Mr. [Christopher] Whittaker took me under his wing and helped me become a better screenwriter and filmmaker. I used to always write short screenplays, but I never really did anything with them. But when I showed them to Mr. Whittaker, he saw potential in them and showed me how to structure them better. This was when I realized that I wanted to major in screenwriting in college,” Coffey recalls. He continued to improve into his senior year as he prepared for college. “In my senior year, Mr. [Sean] Kelly, my new video teacher, helped me write better as well. But it was not just my writing that they helped me with; they both helped me with filming. I learned about different camera angles, how to storyboard, and how to edit my movies. All of this helped me become a better filmmaker.”
Coffey is currently attending New York Film Academy in Los Angeles and is majoring in Screenwriting. He recently began pre-production on his next short film called Growing Up about a boy's journey through life.
Watch Table for Two below here: