Alamo Heights resident David Kauffman has spent the last 10 years burning the midnight oil, drafting script after script, editing, polishing, and dealing with rejection until two years ago, when a screenplay originally titled “The Song” grabbed the attention of a Hollywood director.
“After 10 revisions, I had finished the script and started going to film festivals to take in the seminars and workshops,” Kaufmann recalled. “(Director) Andy Lauer was a panelist at one of these seminars. I leaned over to my daughter and said, ‘I don’t know what his name is, but I want him to direct my film.’”
Kauffman obtained Lauer’s contact info, typed an introduction, and hoped for the best.
“After six days, he emailed me back and said, ‘I like your script. What do you have in mind?’”
The decade-long wait is over and the outcome could not be any sweeter. Kauffman’s screenplay-turned-film, “The One I Wrote For You,” starring Cheyenne Jackson, Kevin Pollak, Christine Woods, and Christopher Lloyd, will have its red carpet premiere at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Santikos Palladium IMAX. It then opens Dec. 5 in 13 Texas cities and Los Angeles for its initial theatrical release.
The indie film, which was shot in 22 days in San Antonio, tells the story of a promising songwriter, Ben Cantor, who puts his dreams on hold to support his family until his 10-year-old daughter secretly enters him into a songwriting reality TV show called “The Song.” It follows his journey as he gets caught up in the demanding world of entertainment while struggling to maintain his integrity.
Incidentally, Kauffman served triple duty on the DoveNote Films production. In addition to the screenplay, he penned all 14 songs and juggled a number of other duties as executive producer.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said of his screenplay going from conception to the silver screen. “It’s a four-year Hail Mary pass to get the film made, and then getting the receiver to make the catch, which, in this case, means getting people to go see the movie.”
Kauffman and his fellow producers, Page Brown, Fernando Cano, Tom Gallo, and Steve Sessions – and the cast, of course – have high hopes riding on “The One I Wrote For You.” If the film fares well at the box office in Texas, it will hit theaters across the country. But for now, the Alamo Heights resident doesn’t want to get too far ahead. His focus at the moment is preparing for the premiere and encouraging people to buy a ticket for the opening weekend Dec. 5-7.
San Antonians, meanwhile, will recognize several local landmarks and establishments, including the Empire Theater, the Carver Cultural Center, the San Pedro Playhouse, the Scottish Rite Performing Arts Center, and The Monterey restaurant in Southtown. The latter serves as the backdrop for the improvised Monterey Coffee Bar, where Ben Cantor makes coffee drinks as a barista, while longing for better days of a songwriting partnership with his now estranged best friend, Mickey, played by Pollak.
Monterey partner Erick Schlather said set decorators did a wonderful job of transforming the King William bar and eatery into a coffee shop. “We were glad to have them film scenes here. There was no disruption of services at all because they filmed on the days we were closed,” he said.
Kauffman, who graduated from St. Mary’s University with a business degree, had already been a songwriter and singer since 1989, when he left a career in the real estate and banking industry to pursue music. His heart, he said, just wasn’t in it. His passion was creating pop and liturgical music, and he has released more than 10 recordings.
The story line for “The One I Wrote For You” came about while exploring the idea of whether a man’s greatest virtue can become his greatest vice, he said. In this case, we meet Ben Cantor, who, early in his career, refused to compromise his integrity as a songwriter-singer. When the record label he signed with wanted him to do things its way, he decided to walk away from his dream.
“When your virtue becomes your vice, it doesn’t look like an enemy – it looks like your friend,” Kauffman said. “I hope that comes across in the film.”
Noting similarities between Kauffman’s career and the fictitious Cantor’s background begs the question: Is the film loosely based on the screenwriter’s life?
“No,” he insisted. “I’ve struggled with authenticity, integrity and rejection, and there are threads in Ben Cantor’s life that are like mine, but it is not a biography.”
He’s grateful to have had the involvement of well-known Hollywood casting agent Heidi Levitt, who helped bring Jackson, Pollak, Lloyd, and Woods on board. “She has a long-standing relationship with agents and managers, and an eye for who is going to make a character come to life.”
As Kauffman anxiously awaits the release of his “labor of love,” he is also hoping the movie receives a nod from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association after submitting the film for Golden Globe consideration.
“Our attitude is, if we didn’t believe we had a shot, why make a movie?” he said. “We have a good opportunity to be heard just like everyone else.”
For more information and to see the trailer, visit www.theoneiwroteforyou.com.
Rudy Arispe is a publicist for “The One I Wrote For You.”
*Featured/top image: Filming “The One I Wrote For You” at The Monterey in Southtown. Courtesy photo.