By Elliot Norton
It felt inevitable in the summer of 2015 that we would shoot a feature length movie. The previous two years we had been building our filmmaking skills through shorts. But, once we were done with number 15, we felt restless. We wanted to make a major statement - one that would use our zero-budget aesthetic as an advantage rather than a detriment. During pre-production we obsessively watched the all time great zero to low budget movies. Clerks. Following. Slacker. El Mariachi. Pi. Primer. We wanted to learn from the strengths of those films while forging our own direction.
It was also during this time that we became enamored with The Spirit of the Beehive by Victor Erice. It’s a Franco-era film whose political critiques were heavily censored by the state, which made the movie pleasingly inscrutable. It still plays like an allegory, but one whose message is so opaque that it can support a myriad of different interpretations. What if we brought that same type of obscurity to our film? What if we required the eventual audience to lean forward? To make connections on their own?
The script we came up with, Brown Truck, is the most experimental and difficult of the major projects LowerGentry Studios has completed. It was written when my brother and I were younger and still had vivid memories of smoky undergrad dorm rooms, when groups of intellectually curious young adults would seek out avant-garde cinema and debate a movie’s plot and meaning for hours.
The film’s alternative spirit is most on display during the testing sequences. We had an idea about consciousnesses merging, of how perspective would change in a true mind-meld. But, we wanted to convey these ideas visually, without science fiction’s penchant for prosaic, expository dialogue. We also wanted these ideas to be absorbed into the very structure of the film - the chapters coming faster and faster, mirroring the exponential progression of technology.
In the end, Brown Truck is for the pretentious 22 year-old in all of us: someone who believes in pushing narrative structure, who believes that sometimes actively deciphering a film can make it more, not less, rewarding. The person that will always value true originality.