Harvey Pekar, the writer of the underground comic book series with Robert Crumb –
American Splendor, wrote the words for the film jacket cover (art by Gary Dumm). The
following link connects to the film jacket cover and more information Nightowls of Coventry
The initial attraction to this story was Laura connecting to her Jewish roots, a component of
her life that was essentially missing when growing up in Portland, Oregon. When finding
herself in Irv’s Deli, she was struck by not only how many of the Jewish patrons were
reminiscent of family members. She also found herself mesmerized by the diverse, real-life
cultural clash of characters. This project wasn’t so much a search for identity – but a
reconnection with the familial, and perhaps an infatuation with the surreal where cultures
and classes intersected in the 70s.
Talk to People and Jump In: Collaborate and Improvise
Admittedly, Laura took the roundabout route to a filmmaking career and that is partially the
reason it took so long for her first film project. “I went to Grinnell College in Iowa – a good
liberal arts college. It was an excellent education. Then I went into music, which was a big
mistake. I finished my degree. Then I thought I’d teach and work on film projects.” I was
curious why she just didn’t study film? She replies, “it was pre-Internet. I grew up in
Portland Oregon in the 1970s. There was a little community that did animations but there
was nobody to say to you ‘you ought to go to this school or be an intern on a movie.’ It
was just this thing I did – making little animations with my friends in the neighborhood. It
was instilled in me that the proper thing to do after high school was to go off to a good
liberal arts college. I wasn’t sure how to go about pursuing a film career and It never
occurred to me to ask people. Nor did it occur to me that it was really something I could
pursue as a career. Filmmaking was something I liked but I didn’t know what to do with it.
Because I lacked life experience, I didn’t really have many ideas. Now I realize that if you
gravitate towards something, you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do. It is
part of the discovery and you just need to jump in.”
Laura jumped in with a feature-length film and got drenched in the filmmaking experience.
It was her creative baptism. She notes, “I just took out books on how to write screenplays.
I made all the mistakes they talk about -- all the exposition in the front, not having a plot line
figured out. I loved figuring out the theme, the atmosphere and writing lots of dialogue –
just could never figure out the plot. I spent years trying to figure out how to write a script.