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Local playwright takes talent to the small screen

Webseries to be filmed at local coffee shop

Fountain City Coffee will close for two days to film "Grounds," an original webseries by Columbus playwright Natalia Temesgen, and produced by the Springer Film Institute. "I hope this inspires other people," said SFI director Sara Lynn Herman
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Fountain City Coffee will close for two days to film "Grounds," an original webseries by Columbus playwright Natalia Temesgen, and produced by the Springer Film Institute. "I hope this inspires other people," said SFI director Sara Lynn Herman

A local coffeehouse will soon find its stories come to life on the small screen in the upcoming webseries “Grounds,” written by Columbus native and playwright Natalia Temesgen.

Fountain City Coffee, the Broadway coffee shop that opened its doors in 2003, will be the setting for the five-episode series, produced by the Springer Film Institute, narrating five stories that unfold on a typical day.

“What’s one location where everything happens?” Temesgen asked herself while developing the project. “It’s a coffee shop. Fountain City in particular came to mind because it’s just one of those places where you see judges, and you’ll see college kids, and artists and you’ll see just everybody here.”

Temesgen wrote “ACE: The Eugune Bullard Story,” staged by the Springer Opera House in 2017. Some of her other plays have been produced in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and Atlanta. She said she was drawn to the “wide swath of characters” found in a coffee shop whose different voices would tell stories that represent diverse members of the community.

“I like writing about Columbus because that’s where I’m from,” Temesgen said. “It’s a really unique place.”

The series opens with the interaction between two baristas, both African-American men, when the younger man discovers that the older employee is a survivalist who is hiding weapons in the store. Episode two listens in on a bible-study group of young, single white women whose conversations move between ethics, social responsibilities and dating. The third episode finds two African-American female coworkers out to lunch on the first day on the job for the young, new hire. It explores what it’s like for women in a male-dominated workplace. A young couple breaks up, hoping to avoid ‘a scene’ in a public setting, in the fourth episode, and the series concludes with an empowering musical finale.

“Their stories need to be told,” said director Sara Lynn Herman of the Springer Film Institute. “If people watch it, and they see a character they relate with and identify with, and they don’t see that in mainstream media, that is really important. It’s going to spark something in them, and we’re affecting our community in a positive way.”

Fountain City Coffee will close to the public for two days, Monday, Jan. 7 and Tuesday, Jan. 8 for filming. The project is on a smaller scale with a modest budget, but, says Herman, “you’ll get to see people shine and dig deep. Columbus will make it happen if you just give them the opportunity.”

The Springer Film Institute was established in early 2018 to “cultivate an indigenous film industry in Columbus,” offering workshops to train the next generation of local filmmakers. For more information on the Institute and its workshops, visit www.springerfilm.org.

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