Coffee Lane: A Peanuts tribute by Clinton & Loni Stark (Video)

“Studies show it’s important to stay young at heart.”

What better way to exercise that theory than to pay homage to the most famous — and cutest — football joke of all time. Will sneaky Lucy ever hold the football for poor Charlie Brown?

As some of our Stark Insider readers may know Loni and I like to take creative getaways at least once, and hopefully twice, per year. There are rules and objectives and goals. Of course. It wouldn’t be sanctioned by Loni otherwise. So Loni paints. And I shoot video.

Charles M. Schultz - Coffee Lane drawing cartoon strips
Charles M. Schulz drew his famous strips in this “hidden” cabin in Sebastopol.
Charles Schulz in Sonoma Studio on Coffee Lane, 1969
Charles Schulz with one of his trips in his studio on Coffee Lane in Sonoma. New owners purchased the property in 1976. The shelves in the background have been replaced with a king-size bed, and the studio can now be rented on Airbnb. (Photo: Tom Vano, Charles Schulz Museum, circa 1969)

Over the years, we attempt fast turnarounds. Perfection must wait. We need to try our best, and within about 48 hours, get our works done. For Loni that means blocking out a few oil paintings and finishing a few others. For me, it typically means completing one video from beginning to end.

A deadline is essential. No excuses. We must get the work done — for better or worse. As a bonus Loni reminds me that this sort of process may have healthy side effects.

Some of our recent 48-hour film projects include MORADO (shot in Baja California Sur), ONLY ART FORGIVES (also in Sonoma) and GLAMPING AT TREEBONES (Big Sur, California)

Part of the challenge living in Silicon Valley these days: traffic. Major league traffic; far worse than I can ever remember even during the peak of the bubble in 2001.

So even though it was the Labor Day long weekend, sitting in traffic took away about 12 hours right off the bat. Then there was the prop (thanks to Walmart for a $5 football). A storyboard (I drew it up crudely, see below). A script (Loni whipped it off in 5 min). The shoot itself (we scrambled to maximize shooting time during the Golden Hour). And, finally, editing/post-production (about 15 hours).

Coffee Lane storyboard 1
“Coffee Lane” – the crudest, most ridiculous story board of all time. But, it gives me a chance to run though what I have in mind with Loni so we can move quickly. Also, I can check out of my shot list as I go and avoid shooting unnecessary footage. Key is to stay nimble!
Coffee Lane storyboard 2
The drama!

My “scripts” are typically incomplete messes:

— Clint at THE desk
– “Clint, let’s play that game”
– “huh? Oh… no, not again?!”
– tosses football off-screen to Clint
– Clint looks at it, pauses, pause.
– hallway
– “this time it’ll be different… come on. We’re in Sonoma! …”
– camera to Clint
[super long shot across grounds, use SIgma]
[Clint & Loni exit]
[Loni promises it will be “different this time”]
[banter, take time, build it up]
closer angle, from Loni’s vantage, setting ball
wait, wait, wait
Loni “Do it!”
Clint runs to ball
gets to ball
about to kick….
pause, pause, pause
[Stark Insider logo]

So Loni wrote this one up, and it did make me laugh — yes, inside joke(s) to be sure. Much better:

Loni: Clinton Stark, Clinton Stark. Gorgeous day, let’s play football.
Clint: But I’m working…

Loni: Come on, it will be fun. I’ll hold the ball Clinton Stark and you come running up, and kick it.
Clint: Wait a sec. Isn’t this where you’ll pull the ball away? I’ll come crashing down and kill myself!
Loni: Clinton Stark don’t be silly. Such antics are for kids. We’re grownups! Plus, I need you as my camera man.
Clint: She’s right. She would be nothing without my videos!
Clint: I am going to kick this ball so hard it will fly out of Sebastopol, out of this universe!

Clint: Ahhhhh….

Loni: Even as grownups Clinton Stark, studies show it’s important to stay young at heart.

We’re not ones to binge watch Netflix, or watch hours of football on the couch (though 49ers is the best soap going!). We get too restless. Though, some how, some way, I connived Loni into watching The Neon Demon over the weekend. Remarkably she thought it was (relatively) good, at least by Nicolas Winding Refn’s standards. That film is a visual feast. Literally.

Clinton Stark Video Gear
Some of the gear we took on the Labor Day trip to Sonoma.
Canon C100 Mark II - Coffee Lane - Clinton Stark
Setting up a shot.
Clinton Stark - Coffee Lane desk
Sitting in the private studio of Charles M. Schulz. No special invite needed. Just Airbnb!

We were in the area, covering events in Sonoma for Stark Insider. In our spare time we set up the camera, and managed to grab this footage in about an hour. It’s a fun, challenging, sometimes frustrating, process trying to complete one of these projects in just 48 hours. But, I like to keep the momentum going. And, each time, we learn something new. ADR. Foley. Sound editing. Sure enough, we make countless mistakes. No use crying over spilt milk or ProRes files. Try to learn from them. And move forward. Rinse and repeat.

As an aside, I loathe being in front of the camera. But there were only two of us. No actors happened to be hanging around this “hidden cabin of famous cartoonist” in Sebastopol, so we made do.

With that, here it is, our little homage to one of our favorite artists of all time, Charles M. Schulz, aka Sparky.

WATCH: COFFEE LANE – A Peanuts Tribute by Clint & Loni Stark