Short Film: Cigarettes & Coffee (1993) dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

Welcome to MustSeeCinema’s short film corner. You can watch the full short, Cigarettes & Coffee at your leisure below, in the embedded video player. All films are eclectically chosen, based on their historic and cultural significance, as well as their entertainment and philosophical values. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more of our Short Film Recommendations!

In a desert diner, five separate storylines interweave around a $20 bill. The second short film of one of the most prominent directors working today, Paul Thomas Anderson, and the one that launched his career. Anderson succeeded in making the film after a chance meeting with Philip Baker Hall while on set of a PBS production, and by pulling some strings with some friends at Panavision, who loaned him a camera for the duration of the shoot. Philip Baker Hall would later become an Anderson regular, appearing in multiple PTA films and helping him secure funding for his first feature-length production, Hard Eight (1996), which expanded the idea put forth by this short.

Cigarettes & Coffee was made with a $20,000 budget with the money Anderson’s father had set aside for him for college, some gambling winnings and the money from his girlfriend’s credit card. Paul Thomas Anderson called the short “his college”, after being put off by the things that were being taught at film schools. Although production was chaotic, largely due to Anderson and the crew’s inexperience in working together, the director’s vision shone through. The film was met with critical acclaim at the festival circuit and screened at the 1993 Sundance Festival Shorts Program.

The film has a similar premise as the 1993 feature, Twenty Bucks (dir. Keva Rosenfeld).

*Due to this being a VHS rip, the quality could be better, however – it is the only version available online

For an outstanding Visual Analysis of this film by “Film School Through Commentaries”, click here!

Cigarettes & Coffee Cast: Philip Baker Hall, Kirk Baltz, Miguel Ferrer, Scott Coffey

Written & Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson