Writers are like everyone else. Doesn’t matter what genre they write in. And when it comes to working styles, even within the same genre (Horror, in my case), we’ve all got our habits and our mannerisms and our quirks. And those things change over time. For instance, I used to love to write in total solitude with just the right music going. And sometimes I still do. But sometimes you fall into a rut - creatively, and it’s good to shake the tree a little bit and see what falls out. Last year this happened with me and I decided to change my writing scene. I decided to ditch the darkness of my writing chamber, snag my laptop, and hit the streets of Los Angeles and see what funky writer-cafes the city had to offer.
Like the poets and artists of early twentieth century Paris, I decided to find a cafe I liked, plant myself there, and call it home. After a few misfires, I found CRAVE, a place on Ventura that’s open 24 hours a day, caters to displaced Valley urbanites and makes a decent cappuccino. At the time, I liked that they were 24 hours a day because my writing habit, whether in solitude or the bustle of a city cafe, often sparks me most creatively in the middle of the night.
But as much as I liked my newfound writing spot, it just wasn’t HOME.
And then along came a Kiwi named Elric Kane, who opened a coffee house in Studio City called the Jumpcut Cafe. Actually he took it over. It used to be called Lulu’s Beehive and it has the distinct honor of being the longest running coffee shop in the Valley at 17 years running. I knew Elric as one of the hosts of Inside Horror, and we’d met at a few horror functions and premieres, but I had no idea the depths of his love for cinema, both horror and otherwise, until I spent a few afternoons at his cafe on Ventura blvd. Any place with a poster over the toilet in the restroom for Godard’s Bande a Part, I quickly realized, was my kind of place.
And I wasn’t the only one. As I began to take most of my meetings at Jumpcut, surrounded by the aroma of the some of the best coffee in Los Angeles & posters for French New Wave films from the 60’s, I started seeing a lot of familiar places.
At this table my friends from Fangoria, at the next, my fellow FEARnet brethren, Shock Til You Drop, Dread Central, other horror writers and directors. It was uncanny how we all took to this place and made it our own. Bill Malone, Joe Dante, the list of familiar horror staples you’ll see here goes on and on.
To continue with the sense of community which Elric has begun, I invited some fellow patrons to chime in on their feelings about the place.
The ubiquitous Rebekah McKendry of Fangoria says, “Jumpcut is like The Peach Pit or The Max for the horror community (I'm dating myself with those references). It’s a place where we can all gather to relax and geek-out. Last week, I was having a meeting with some producers at Jumpcut, and I had told them in advance that it was quite the LA horror haven. They were thrilled to see Tom Holland and Mary Lambert having lunch at the table next to us. Yeah, its just that kind of place.”
My fellow Daywalt Fear Factory producer Rob G. (also of Icons of Fright/ Fearnet notoriety) says, "I affectionately refer to the Jumpcut Cafe as a 'horror haven', not just because I love talking with and seeing Elric, but because I always tend to run into someone from the horror community there, and as horror fans know, we're the most welcoming group of people you'll ever meet."
"Go for the always delicious hot chicken sandwich and stay for the cool cinephile atmosphere and Elric's incredible hospitality,” says Sean Keller, fellow horror screenwriter (GIALLO). “Jumpcut Cafe brings a new level of cool to the Valley."
“It’s a place where Los Angeles film fans can gather for trivia night, 16mm screenings and a delicious macchiato and grilled cheese sandwich.” - Lawrence Raffel - Editor in Chief - FEARnet.com
And Lawrence brings up something cool, now that I think of it -- Just when we were all excited just to have a coffee shop we could call our own, Elric made it even better. He started holding events -- Horror Trivia Night, Secret 16mm print movie projections, mini film festivals, exclusive hush-hush indie film screenings and before we knew it... horror had a home. Something that’d been missing for a long time.
I asked him how he came up with this idea for a fusion of coffee and cinema (my two favorite things) and he said he created the place not out of a simple love for cinema, but a need for it.
“It’s a place just outside of Hollywood that celebrates films that broke the rules or were independent of the studios. Beyond the aesthetic, I've always dreamed of running a movie theater and as that is very unlikely with my finances, I figured we could create a Frankenstein “cafe by day” and “microcinema-cafe by night,” he told me.
Well, his philosophy is working because it’s gotten to the point now where it’s become the Cheers of the horror literati in town, and on any given day or night you can walk in, see people from the industry that you know, share a story and a cup of coffee. And if you’re lucky, and it’s at night... there’ll be some kind of underground secret cinema showing.
It’s the perfect 21st century fusion of Parisian art-house cafe from a hundred years ago, an old movie house, and a speak easy from the days of prohibition.
...if only I could get Elric to start serving Absinthe...
Gaudium per atrox.