Story and photos by Nicole Tropea
Deland’s Café DaVinci recently enjoyed a night of fame on the silver screen at the Sundance Film Festival, which celebrates and awards great independent films from around the world. The local bar and concert venue acted as the set for “The Guy Knows Everything,” a locally produced short film which was screened for both VIP and public audiences at the Festival in Utah last Saturday.
While Café DaVinci was originally chosen as an indie film budget alternative to a soundstage setup, director Joops Fragale said in an interview with this reporter that as filming went on and the story came to life, the bar “became a character in the film” and that “[Café DaVinci’s] warm wood, colors, and artwork all add to the mood.” A soundstage is usually preferred because it gives the filmmaker more control, but actor Joe Coffey said in an interview that he enjoyed having the freedom to interact with real objects in a real bar as opposed to those on a set, which are usually made of foam.
Shooting of the short film began in August of 2012. During filming days, the bar was completely closed to business and the windows were blacked out to simulate nighttime. It would seem to most people like a risky business move for a bar to close down during the peak of summer to accommodate such a project, but Mark Dam told this reporter that when producer Mike Long of 3hree8ight6ix Films, who is also a neighbor of one of the Café’s owners, approached them about using it as a set, they simply examined their financial situation and thought “We’re comfortable enough, so why not?”
“The Guy Knows Everything” stars former Puddle of Mudd lead guitarist Paul Phillips in the title role, and follows the strange experience of a group of barfly friends playing a sports trivia game of their own invention in which each person asks a question and bets $10 that the other players do not know the answer. Chaos ensues after a mysterious stranger with seemingly infinite knowledge of all things past, present, and future (Phillips) joins the game and increases the stakes with a big bet and a midnight “deadline”, after which it is implied that more than just the game will be over. Within its 26-minute runtime, the plot includes elements of both dark comedy and suspense.
Chris Hallock of All Things Horror notes in a review that the universe of “The Guy Knows Everything” contains the same kind of compelling weirdness as The Twilight Zone, and has hailed it as “a great commentary on the ever-shifting roles of men in our culture.”
Although Café DaVinci’s management has been very involved in promoting “The Guy Knows Everything” on their Facebook page, many regulars are still unaware of the bar’s part in the short. There has yet to be any mention of whether or not they plan to hold a screening of the film in the bar so that patrons can see their favorite spot in the limelight.
UPDATE: Cafe DaVinci will be hosting a homecoming party for “The Guy Knows Everything”, including a screening of the film and live music, at 7:00 p.m. on March 28th, 2013.
In the meantime, Café DaVinci’s off screen popularity continues to grow. In addition to an indoor drinking and dining area, the venue boasts a large outdoor patio (DaVinci Gardens) to accommodate the crowds of locals and Stetson students who come for the weekend concerts from local groups and well known musicians such as Afroman, the Monday night karaoke, and the same warm and quirky ambiance that made it such a fantastic and believable “any town neighborhood bar” setting for the film.