A man making a living in a glass box... When did space become so precious? This 6-minute visual documentary follows the daily routine of a micro café’s owner in Toronto, Canada. From his tiny window to the world, Josh sells artisan coffee on the go. The pride he takes in every cup always on display. Sure, he’s a bit of a curio but, at times, he disappears in the cityscape – engulfed by the interplay of sights and sounds outside, inside, around, and through his 18sqft enclosure. Oh well, it’s all in a day’s work inside possibly the world's smallest coffee shop, “One espresso, please.”

  • Irena Joannides
    Neighbourhood Stories (Documentary series), Frequency (Drama), Island (Experimental), Her Violet Garden (Drama)
  • Irena Joannides
    Neighbourhood Stories (Documentary series), Frequency (Drama), Island (Experimental), Her Violet Garden (Drama)
  • Antonin Lhotsky
  • Antonin Lhotsky csc
  • Irena Joannides
  • Antonin Lhotsky
  • Steven Ejbick
    Sound Design, Mix
  • Joshua Campos
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Visual documentary
  • Runtime:
    6 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 29, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    1,200 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Irena Joannides

Irena Joannides was born in Cyprus and studied Cinema at the University of Toronto. She produced, directed, and wrote three independent films, which have screened at nearly 100 festivals worldwide including at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, at the BIG Torino Biennale as one of only nine shorts selected from the entire world, and competed in pre-selection for the Academy Awards. They have garnered 15 international awards including Best Film and Special Jury Prizes. Irena also produced and directed a human-interest documentary series she created for Rogers TV, which won Best Community Cable Production in Canada. Her writing has been published in anthologies, magazines, and standalone volumes in Europe, Canada, and Australia.

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Director Statement

I came across a curious sight in my neighbourhood – a man making coffee inside a shop window. Fascinated, I ordered an espresso and struck up a conversation. Josh, its owner, agreed to appear in a short doc.

With zero budget or time to waste looking for funding since the tiny shop was getting tons of media coverage, I called my close collaborator Antonin Lhotsky. “Let’s do this!” I drafted the concept, and we scouted the location. Well, shooting a tiny glass box isn’t easy – depth of field, reflections, restricted angles...

On my first film, I learned the cardinal rule of directing: films have minds of their own and you better bend to their whims, unless you want to fail spectacularly. This film revealed itself the instant Antonin showed me the reflections on the glass enclosure in his viewfinder. Before he could finish offering the technical fix, I knew...“Reflections! Layers of sights and sounds as a metaphor of urban living.”

In three days of shooting, we had our film. Due to strange and unforeseen circumstances, three talented editors were unable to complete. All the while, I felt the film nudging me to do the edit myself and break free of my old paradigm.” I was used to decent-size budgets, crews, theatrical Dolby mixes... DIY, no-budget filmmaking was uncharted territory for me.

Antonin and I structured the narrative on iMovie, intending to have an editor fine cut. Again, the film had different plans because very quickly the edit was done. All it needed was grading, which did ourselves after transferring to Final Cut Pro. In our search for a sound designer/mixer committed to the creative exploration, we lucked out with Steve Ejbick.

Yes, the three of us spared no effort but, ultimately, I feel that we served the demands of the creative “entity” in charge. I like the result but I loved the process. Making 18SQFT was a stress-free, liberating experience. Unburdened by the soul-sucking fundraising process, which had drained me for years, I rediscovered my passion for filmmaking, and the fun of it!

Sadly, around the time we finished the mix, The Coffee Lab (the subject of our film) closed permanently.