“With a four speed on the floor, she’ll be waiting at the door. You know that ain’t no shit, we’ll be getting loads of tit. In Greased Lightnin’.” So, sang Danny Zuko in 1978’s ‘Grease’.
Forty years later the automobile still holds a highly masculine place in popular culture, to this day men commonly believing their ‘sweet rides’ to be ‘chick magnets’ or ‘pussy wagons’.
Johnny Hardstaff describes his film as an “unapologetically feminist short revenge film”.
“Motel Music Part. II”, Hardstaff says, “looks to debunk the myth that a car can get a man laid, taking aim squarely at the macho contemporary cinema of Winding Refn’s ‘Drive’ amongst countless others, and in so doing offering a refreshing recalibration of the stereotypically masculine relationship between cars, violence and sexual conquest.
We thought it was going to end in tears and we love it – not only for its joyously dark narrative but the film is beautifully shot, edited and graded. We asked Oisin O’Driscoll at The Mill about the gold, hot and sweaty palette that accentuates the unease of the deeply unpleasant lead character and the impending doom.
“I really developed the side shot of the parked car towards the end and that became the reference for my colour palette for the video. This shot in tandem with the narrative that drives the film led to each look.
“For the first look I wanted to keep the video warm and each image very open to let the viewer explore each frame. This also leaves a few shots to figure out the story behind this main character. I wanted to keep a sense of foreboding too so I added some green into the blacks.
“When the video hits night time it really comes to life and this is where I played a lot with subtle grade changes to pace video and to hint at the character’s degrading mental state. I kept the grade strong on contrast, saturation and really shaped the images of the first night scene in order to keep the fun of the video but this all takes a turn from the shot of the drunken girl walking by the car.
During this shot I used a dynamic grade to push the yellow to add to the sense of unease regarding what the main character will do from this point. Then as we get to the montage of shots I started to grade each one uniquely. In some I added chromatic aberrations, in others I de-saturated the skin tone and others I softened his skin.
The pharmacy was a fun section to grade because it was so detached from everything else in the world. I put together a lower saturation glaring look, to make the viewer feel as uncomfortable as the main character would in that situation. I also removed the very fine film grain that I’d added throughout the video for this section in order to make it more clinical.
For the final section of the video I mainly played with the skin tone, slowly reducing the saturation throughout the scene till he finally passes out. For me there had to be a question of whether or not he died during this scene.
Written & Directed by Johnny Hardstaff.
Produced by Hexagone Paris.
Director of Photography Cezary Zacharewicz
Editor Joe Guest
Casting Director Emma Skowronek
Co-producer Marcus de Fortuny
Line Producers Maxime Gallet and Hugo Aguado
Post Production: The Mill
Colourist: Oisin O’Driscoll
Sound Design: Patch Rowland
UK Representation: Black Dog Films