Documenting the ups and downs of life is what Cody Broadway has spent the past four years doing. But being behind the camera has not given Broadway the opportunity to escape his very own trials.
Growing up in Grape Creek, Broadway took interest in video and film after watching an MTV television series that featured the videotaping of dangerous stunts and pranks. At the age of 15 he decided to pick up a camera and give it a go; film became his every ambition.
“I had someone tell me, ‘you might have to find you a different profession when you get out of high school because you can’t really make money in video or film, especially here in little San Angelo’,” Broadway said.
Considering there were no production houses in town, Broadway took the suggestion, and after high school left his dreams of film behind.
He was working at Denny’s when an opportunity to return to his paramount aspiration came up.
“I stopped everything I was doing at Denny’ s and actually quit to take a part time job,” Broadway said of his decision to work as a production assistant at the KLST television station. “I learned everything I could while running the floor and cameras.”
In response to his eagerness to learn and work, the station offered Broadway a job in the commercial department.
Broadway said, “I was young, I couldn’t believe they took a chance on me. Because now I look back and see I really didn't know as much as I thought I did.”
During his time as commercial producer for KLST, Broadway gained a friend and mentor in coworker Greg McGee.
“He told me if I wanted to do this I needed to get out there and get into film school,” Broadway said of his friend McGee, who led him to make a decision that would become pivotal to his eventual career in film.
In an almost serendipitous manner, Broadway was traversing through Myspace when an advertisement for the New York Film Academy came up on his computer screen.
“Everything just lined up perfectly. If I didn’t have that commercial job, I wouldn’t have had anything on my reel to submit,” Broadway said.
After applying to the academy and sending in some of his commercial work, Broadway was offered the Brett Ratner scholarship to attend the school.
While at the New York Film Academy, Broadway went to school year round without holiday or summer breaks.
“They would tear your stuff apart,” he said of how the instructors criticized the work of the film students.
During his time in New York Broadway interned on the movie set of Mark Wahlberg’s and Will Ferrel’s film “The Other Guys”. He also was made into a fan of the television series “Law & Order: SVU” after having the opportunity to be on set during production.
When considering the high price of attending the academy, Broadway convinced himself that the cost of the opportunity would pay off.
“Once you make a big film, you’ll get a big pay out,” Broadway told himself. “It’s that easy. I’ll go to New York and make all these films and make all this money.”
However, upon completion of his program at the film school Broadway found himself back in San Angelo, back at KLST.
“I came back and I was jobless. There was an opening at KLST working as a part-time production assistant again. But on the side I was figuring out how I can make this dream a reality,” he said.
Although Broadway was quickly promoted to web content manager, it wasn't long before he found himself jobless again.
“I had all these dreams, I went to film school and this is where I am now. But what I didn’t know was that everything was falling into place,” he said of the period of time he fell into a depression, not knowing what direction his life was going.
A turn of events began for Broadway when a newspaper article prompted him to contact local business owner Toro Vaun.
Vaun had recently opened The Library Cafe in conjunction with the new Stephen’s Central Library. It was a milestone for the Cambodian immigrant whose family escaped genocide in their homeland.
“When I met Cody, for me it was hard to see because I saw that he had so much talent but it hurt to see that there was no hope in this part of the world,” Vaun said. “So that is why I offered my self, my story, my time to Cody.”
Broadway described their meeting as being an instantaneous friendship. “I felt we had the same goals and the same dreams,” he said.
Both Broadway and Vaun shared an interest in filmmaking and began collaborating on projects together. The two began working on what they called “The American Dream”; it was to be a series that documented people’s journey to this ideal.
A farmer, a movie actor, and Vaun’s immigrant story were all to be part of “The American Dream” series. Broadway invested weeks that turned into months, and months that turned into years, on this project.
“I’ve seen him get married, have a kid and now he’s moved,” Vaun said of the time span they have spent together.
For Broadway, filming other’s lives was almost like therapy, as he pursued his own American dream. Without a job and with hopes that the series would be picked up, he began submitting a trailer of the project to local television stations. He got a response from FOX, but not in regards to the series. After seeing Broadway’s work they offered him a job as a host of their FOX Live segment.
Work didn’t keep Broadway from filming. He continued to document Vaun’s story, he was there to witness the passing of his father, the closing of The Library Café and the emergence of a new one in its place.
At the culmination of filming the two realized the original idea for the project had narrowed.
“I interviewed him for the last time and he said something about a cup of coffee and it stuck,” Broadway said. “I spent four years shooting, but not just the trials and errors, we both went through it. It is more special than just calling it ‘The American Dream.’”
Broadway, who took a position at KENS 5 in San Antonio after working at FOX San Angelo for three years, decided the final project was best titled “A Cup of Coffee”.
“We should keep it simple, just like the name,” Broadway said of his decision to turn hours of material into a short film primarily about Vaun’s life.
Although no longer called “The American Dream”, the title change did not deduct from the films dream value. With his promotion work from KENS 5 nominated for three Emmy Awards this year, Broadway’s dreams are coming true.
He said, “I’ve always wanted to be able to make a film and bring it back to be screened in San Angelo.”
Broadway is doing just that. On Dec. 13, “A Cup of Coffee” will premiere at the The Old Texas Theater in Ballinger.
“I have the chance of getting everyone together and having them go to an actual theater. It is going to be an actual pay off,” he said. “I have finally reached a dream of showing a story with full attention. Having people's attention is going to be a magical thing.”
For more information on Cody Broadway and “A Cup of Coffee” visit his Facebook director page.