LOS ANGELES, JUNE 1996: A lonely young woman named Melody (Melanie Lynskey) starts receiving mysterious, romantic postcards meant for somebody else. She soon finds herself sucked in by the intrigue of this secret relationship between the intended recipient and this lost penpal - so much so that she starts to feel directly involved in it, losing her grip on the real world as a well-meaning neighbor named Jonas (Wil Wheaton) desperately tries to court her and bring her back to reality.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, JUNE 1996: In this quiet suburban Californian community, a young Englishman named Trevor (Corin Nemec) flies out from London to meet his penpal Mira (Yelena Danova), a refugee from Sarajevo who lives here with an American family. As she is to be sent back to her war-torn homeland soon, Trevor believes he has just been flown out to cheer her up... Until he discovers that he has been set up to discuss marriage with her.

THAT'S the basic premise behind Foreign Correspondents, a feature film split into two entirely separate stories, the first entitled "Dear Jenny" and the second "Love, Trevor." Though the film is very neatly divided into these two different stories, with two different casts and two different cities, there are certain thematic and narrative ties that bind the stories together so that they form a cohesive whole.

My name is Mark Tapio Kines. I wrote and directed Foreign Correspondents and I have also written and designed this web site. It has been over six years since this project first started taking shape, when I decided to sit down and write a script based first on a story that had kicked around in my head for several years, and second on actual events that happened in my life.

It was April, 1996 when I finished writing the script for "Dear Jenny." I was all set to make a 50-minute film of it until a couple of weeks later, when I realized the impossibility in selling and distributing a 50-minute film. So I wrote "Love, Trevor" as a companion piece, filling out the film to feature length. I decided that I would direct the film in the summer of 1997, with whatever money I could save up in the bank. For several months, that was all I could do - save money and hope for the best.

Intent on just working with a few film and actor friends, in August 1996 I came across a web site dedicated to the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, which I had enjoyed a great deal. I read that the young actress who starred in the film (along with Kate Winslet), Melanie Lynskey, was interested in working in independent American films. With nothing to lose, I decided to write her a letter, asking her if she might like to work on mine. Two months later, after finally receiving the script, she wrote back, saying she would love to.

Click here to read Melanie Lynskey's letter of intent.

For the following 5 months Mel and I were the only people in the entire world who were committed to this film. Then, in April 1997, I hired producer Julia Stemock, who immediately took my tiny budget and increased it to a level at which a decent independent feature could be made, to shoot on 35mm with a full crew and professional cast.

Three chaotic months of casting, deal-making, rehearsing and fund-raising later, a film was made - right on schedule. Principal photography was completed on August 11, 1997, less than 4 months after a time when I thought I was the only person interested in making this film.


THEN came the hard part. Financially, we all just barely squeaked by and got the film in the can. Like so many other independent productions, life became a daily fight just to find the money to put film stock in the camera and food in everybody's mouths. After that point, our resources were exhausted. There was no money left in the bank. So the struggle to find more investors began.

By November of that year, I had a rough cut of the movie on video - little more. Thus, I decided to fall back on my talents as a web site designer (for more information, see my biography) and create the official site for this film. In the first year of the site's existence, it managed to raise over $90,000 in investments - from absolute strangers. Pretty astounding! A number of acquaintances also came in with investments of all sizes, from $500 to $25,000, bringing the grand total to around $150,000. As a result, I could finally afford to complete Foreign Correspondents and the film premiered on February 17, 1999. Not only that, but I have met hundreds of interesting people through this site, and word about the film has spread all over the world. Finally, I finished the DVD and VHS of the film and managed to put them up for sale, so that everybody who used to ask "Where can I see your movie?" now can. Big thanks to everybody who helped make it happen.

But for now, I simply hope you like the site. As I'm the first writer/director of a large-scale independent film to create a comprehensive web site for it himself, this site offers the reader rare access to props, photos, footage and insight that only a writer/director can provide. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to email me at the link below. (Don't forget to delete the upper-case text in the address, should you do so - I put that in the link to discourage spammers.)

Thanks for coming, and enjoy your stay.

-Mark Tapio Kines

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© Mark Tapio Kines 2016
Melanie Lynskey, Wil Wheaton, Corin Nemec, Corky Nemec, Yelena Danova, Steve Valentine, Blaire Baron, Douglas Coler, Lisa Lo Cicero, James Michael Tyler, Richard Moll, Mark Tapio Kines, Mark Kines