Sunday, 4 October 2009


(article originally in The Pictures Zine Issue 2)

Beth Murphy and Rebecca Loar – Bang Wash Productions – are interactive movie stars. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio via Godard’s Paris, the duo have so far shot, directed and starred in three short movies, with a fourth on the way. Through each, the two filmmakers are a constant presence, avatars in blonde wigs and mini-dresses, mirror images performing, equal and opposite, on either side of the screen. Bang Wash movies are about games, equations and patterns; rituals, language and colour.

Rabbit Vacuum One and Joy Divisions are list films (like list songs). The first tells a disjointed, nonsensical tale through the oration of punters in a bar – a series of cutup interviews ostensibly about a wild night at a gig. In the midst of the list of anecdotes, Beth and Rebecca illustrate, counterpoint and act out parts of the scenario using props and centred shots – foaming at the mouth, hair in buns, a gun, t-shirts that read ‘Hate Core Kids’. These staged sequences form the psychic space behind the storyteling, a mental picture game prompted by words and played out by the two women, the secret agents of the story, working for the film.

In the second, the mental space takes over and all is illustration. Disembodied voices relate experiences, half thoughts and memories of joy that are then playfully demonstrated by the film and the Beth/Rebecca avatars who show us empty boxes, equations on chalk boards, slogans on gym pants and arcade game rain. The two women know secrets and tease us with didactic clues.

Bang Wash’s third movie, The Scandalous Lamella, is the first to take us into these secret agent’s world. A narrative film – a lo-fi musical – follows the two women as they decorate a flat and become acquainted through paint charts and party games. The duo relax with wine. They play a board game: each pulls out a tooth and places it in a cup. The players roll the dice and move that number of spaces to find out which liquid to add to the tooth. Different liquids rot the tooth at different speeds. Whoever’s tooth disappears first wins. Tension builds. Sequences are interspersed with hand crafted title cards and, as the two eventually decide to play at murder, numbered visitors bringing poison. The colours of the film change, cycling through the paint chart. The games become ever more complex. We try to follow the poison’s path, we pick a winner. The soundtrack swells until the duo break into song.

Bang Wash films draw us in to their new wave games, with Beth and Rebecca as our twisted hosts. They lay down their challenges and ask whether we can resist to play.

1.How did the two of you meet, decide to make films, get started?

we both lived on furniture alley in washington beach, ohio. most people thought we were one person because we have similar bangs and chins. eventually we mistook each other for each other after drinking a lot of shots of bulliet at the bar. then we decided we wanted extra slashes after our name .

2.What's the significance of your characters within the films? Do they mean the same thing in each?

girls usually are blond, unless they are black or us. sometimes we are us. boys wear baseball caps.

3.What are your biggest influences? How much of an influence is music on your filmmaking?

abba, lacan, champagne, "home movies", "persona", donnie monaco. crucial bun does all of our music. crucial bun is us. we are signed to "try an hommelette today" records. "try an hommelette today" records is us. sometimes we cover "the better beach boys" songs. "the better beach boys" is us.

4.What's the process behind making the films? Like, taking Lamella as an example, and speaking logistically, what would be the stages of production?

one of us says something funny and then the other person says thats totally a movie. then we draw pictures on notecards at the bar. then we buy food coloring, pipe cleaners, jello, sequins, alize, korean food and fake nails. then we get the wigs because we don't like other people. sometimes we get cake. we have a shitcamHD450 that we ducktape to a tripod. sometimes you gotta use the old on/off trick on it.

5.What are you working on next?

we are finishing a closet splitscreen movie using manual special effects about two girls on house arrest. next we are summering in detroit for a romantic comedy about stalking with Candies. and we are getting lip tattoos for a party trick.

6. in our free time we literally enjoy jigsaw puzzles, fucking shit up, buying fools gold at giant eagle, laughing, telling people we are not related or that we are, putting things on them-shaped things, making lists of things we don't know the name of, hanging out with the puffy mope and the spikey mope (the puffy mope's punk rock girlfriend) and making fun of new york

7. our three favorite signs ever are: kids eat free $1 mimosas, world's largest miniature village & on this site in 1881 nothing happened.

8. we are looking for a sandwich man to drive us around.

9. the worst elvis impersonator? thanks for asking garry. we think he is an 8 year old boy in somalia who has never heard of elvis.

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