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November 04, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, November 04, 2005

Kafka visits the Tied House Kafka visits the Tied House (November 04, 2005)

Budding MV filmmakers set their film in local brewery

By Molly Tanenbaum

Diners at the Tied House may still be wondering what a raccoon the size of a person was doing eating in the brewery's beer garden two weeks ago.

That wasn't just any raccoon. He's the star of an upcoming short film, "Raccoon Daze," by Mountain View's Mark Brown and Tim Susman.

The storyline of "Raccoon Daze" is familiar: A man wakes up one morning and realizes he has turned into a raccoon. After quite a bit of coaxing, a wise friend finally convinces the man to leave his house and come to terms with his new, furry self.

"It's about acceptance and how things happen to us for reasons that maybe aren't that strange," Susman said, describing the film as "a la Kafka, but less grim."

Part of the inspiration for "Raccoon Daze" came from Brown and Susman's friend, who owns a raccoon costume and will be moving out of the area soon. About two months ago, the budding filmmakers -- who pursue their passion when they're not working at their Silicon Valley day jobs -- started planning and writing the script for what will become a 10-minute film that they hope to submit to film festivals such as Cinequest in San Jose.

The two met 10 years ago through a mutual friend, and though they were both movie buffs with an interest in making films, it was two and a half years ago when they decided they needed more of a creative outlet than what their professional lives provided.

"Our day jobs are both in the tech industry, which is spiritually less satisfying," said Susman said, who works as an account manager for Spoke Software. Brown is a tech support manager at StrongMail Systems.

"We wanted to do something more creative, and the proliferation of digital videos makes it so much easier to go out and shoot a movie," Susman said. "We said, we could talk about it all day long -- let's just do it."

So the two founded Xoflow Films, with Susman as the writer-director and Brown as the producer.

Fortunately, both Brown and Susman have many friends already involved in creative pursuits who help with their projects, such as Dave Kuhn, an animator for Disney who recently started up his own animation studio. Kuhn drove up from Los Angeles with his own equipment to help shoot "Raccoon Daze," which saved on equipment rental costs.

All told, about 15 people helped out in the filming of "Raccoon Daze," primarily shot at the Tied House, in front of the Mountain View Public Library, and at a friend's house. Brown and Susman are now editing the film.

"We specifically wanted to feature Mountain View," Susman said. "Why go anywhere else when we have the pretty scenery right here?"

The filmmaking team created their first film in 2004 for San Francisco's 48 Hour Film Project, a contest where filmmakers from cities around the country have one weekend to produce a seven-minute movie. Theirs was "Octapuppy," a James Bond takeoff.

Though they didn't take grand prize, the filmmaking duo returned for a second round at the 2005 48 Hour Film Project, creating "Hunches," a noir spoof about an investigator who solves a crime by figuring out that a drug dealer was distributing his goods through the ink of standard office pens.

"Hunches" made it to the final round in the San Francisco contest, and both Brown and Susman are eager to return in 2006 because they feel their filmmaking skills have greatly improved.

Both Brown and Susman had previous creative endeavors prior to founding Xoflow, but this is their first collaborative effort.

After majoring in creative writing in college, Brown designed comic books before returning to school to study computer science. Susman writes short stories on the side and founded a small press with a friend six years ago to sell magazines online.

Both cited Hitchcock, Tarantino and Kevin Smith as their directorial influences.

"We're not to the point of [Smith's] quick cuts, but we tend to be more dialogue-heavy," Susman said.

Brown and Susman expect "Raccoon Daze" to be fully finished by mid-December. A trailer for the film is available on the Xoflow Web site, For more information about the 48 Hour Film Project, visit

E-mail Molly Tanenbaum at [email protected]

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