The “Lost” Films of John Cosper

The oldest film now posted on my YouTube page is the original Fluffy. It’s not the the earliest film posted YouTube, mind you, but production-wise, it pre-dates everything else on my channel.

There were actually four films that preceded Fluffy. Two were shot that same summer. One was shot a few years before. Here are their stories.

God Told Me to Break Up With You

This film was an adaptation of a one act play that I wrote and toured with the Righteous Insanity drama company. It was a story about five Christian singles that really set up and parodied the rocky realm of the Christian dating scene. This is the one shot just before Fluffy, and the talented cast included future Fluffy stars Jamie Bratcher, Laura Elton, Randy D. Pease, and Sean Bailey, along with original Righteous Insanity cast members Natalie Gilbert and Erin McLish. The entire play was filmed for the video adaptation, but one key scene was promptly lost. One of the cast members supplied the camera and tape used to film that scene, and it somehow went missing right after we filmed it.

I completed the movie anyway, writing in a throw away scene to cover for the missing scene and released it as a series of webisodes. The camera work was pretty poor all around, the sound quality on another scene was poor due to a metal roof and a rain storm, and without that one scene, it really didn’t live up to my hopes. It’s not online right now, but I might go back and post it later.

Open Doors

Written by my friend and frequent collaborator at the time Natalie Gilbert, this was a very personal story about friends, about relationships, and finding love when you least expect it. I co-starred in this one along with Natalie, Randy, and Jamie. We had a delightful two days running around Louisville and filming at various locations. Unfortunately, a camera malfunction rendered the video and audio useless, and the movie never even made it to editing.

Flee

This five minute short edited in black and white was my attempt to be artsy. It was a dramatic piece with no dialogue that literally showed a young man fleeing from sexual temptation. Fans of my film work will no doubt have realized I am no creative auteur when it comes to cinematography, so trust me when I tell you, it’s much more awkward than artsy. This one was completed and re-edited a few years later. But for now it’s locked away on a hard drive offline.

Chasing Leia

The one that preceded them all! This movie was filmed in the summer of 2002, a full three years before Fluffy. It was a send up of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy about a Star Wars fan who meets the perfect girl, only to discover she is a… Trekkie. I ended up playing the lead in this one after the actor I cast in that role got called into work the day we started filming. It was an awkward shoot, as my co-star and romantic interest was a former student of mine, but we had a lot of fun making it. A low resolution edit with no music still exists, as I was able to cut this one together on my Dad’s mac computer, but I never got a chance to save the master file, and the edit was lost.

I went looking for the footage a few years later when I had a Mac of my own and could not find it. A few years after that, I found some of that footage when I was editing another project. I had taped over the majority of the film without knowing it.

What lessons did I learn from these films? Plenty, but here were the main takeaways:

Always label and copy protect tapes. That’s not very applicable now, given everything is digital, so the modern update would be to label and keep everything.

Always back up your files.

If you’re not good at a certain thing, find someone who is and hire them, even if it’s just with food.

Sound is just as important as picture.

Don’t let footage out of your sight. Get it before you leave the set so it doesn’t get lost.

Don’t try to be something you are not. It’s okay to experiment, but learn to be comfortable in your own shoes.