Monday, 24 October 2011


from The Pictures #5, photo by LD&S

Becky Lawn-Darte: One day me and dang were sitting on my floor pulling out individual strands of my hair to attach to bread and I thought “we are obsessive”. We are obsessive and this is the best day of my life. The props are cult objects, the edits are weird conversations. We have a hard time letting go. After AB dang had probably huffed too many things and I was thinking about seriously stalking people. Tim & Vice could have gone on for a long time. Way longer than any of my real relationships. We get attached to shit is what I mean. By which I also mean there is a sequel.

Ambient Bummer, the doomed romance of Timothy Ziglar (Dang Steele) and Vice Magazine (Becky Lawn-Darte) is the second major picture from Lawn-Darte & Steele Productions, a duo of self described Manson Family Revivalists whose lo-fi distortion dramas are the best things we've seen grow out of the Columbus, Ohio art/film/music scene since one Bang Wash Productions (Becky L-D is half of Bang Wash too). Tim loves Vice, Vice loves Tim and together they live on warm beer in a crappy apartment where Vice dreams of travelling away on a v-a-c-a-y holiday. Desperate to make his girl's dreams come true, the solvent-addled Tim turns to lottery tickets and crime. How will their love survive?

The Pictures: How did you come to make films together?

Dang Steele: good question. i sort of had this crush on BANG WASH.

BLD: I think it started the first time we hung out. We were making a floor collage from disco glass and I left my glasses in Dang’s room. Then we were listening to ELO. Then we made movies. Our first one is called “strange magic”. It was kind of just like that. You did have kind of a crush on BANG WASH, though.

While Becky cut her film-making teeth with the legendary Bang Wash Productions, Dang was working up his own movie science experiments - see the likes of Gypsy Issue and The Big Wedding on youtube channel ‘danzotelevision’. The two first came together to produce RETINABALL!, a trip through mind altering spectacles that features a Ciccone Youth style take on Phil Collins’ Susudio, drug wine and an active volcano. The marriage of Lawn-Darte’s fuzzed out romance games and Steele’s knack for science, on a palette of kitsch special effects and nosebleeds was an immediate fit. The chemistry was obvious. Karina and Belmondo gone shitgaze.

It wasn’t to last. Steele’s relocation to San Francisco placed 2000 miles between the pair. Somewhere on Vimeo a sign was hung: ‘Lawn-Darte & Steele Productions (Now Defunct).’ Becky ventured out solo with horses in Romanticulticom IV, a comparatively angry film about selling work and being hit by a van to a scuzzy Righteous Brothers cover. Steele returned to his own work. But as Becky said, the the pair are nothing if not obsessive, and the internet has no care for distance. The two got talking movies again, and Tim and Vice were born over ethernet cables.

BLD: Our cursers hangout in a google document. Sometimes we just sit there. Sometimes reading the transcripts back I forget which one I am. We send pictures. We send songs. We video chat, but his camera is so blurry he looks like he’s wearing a him mask. It’s kind of sad in a good way, like the simplicity of it. We used to do most of our business over champagne brunches, which I miss quite a bit, though.

DS: i prefer the champagne brunches. i think its pretty good for being 2000 miles apart.

Very few scenes in Ambient Bummer feature Becky and Dang together but you might not have noticed if you didn’t already know. The film is a conversation and a love story in a classic Hollywood way, with each actor delivering their final monologues (read from a Motley Crue biography) in that old-time 50s style. Lawn-Darte and Steele play almost all the roles - the audience, the protagonists, the music and the police in wigs and costume. Still photos, collages, junk shop arrays, ambitiously handcrafted effects (see Vice’s stop-motion 2D tears or Tim’s hallucination of vacay seaside), hazy colouring,audience reaction shots, home-made Godard titles (FLOWERS ARE FOR GRAVES), chemistry how-to demonstrations - nothing in the film comes from outside of their pastel-graded world, including the DIY soundtrack.

BLD: the music in AB is my band when I'm singing, and Dang’s band when he is. Or when no one is. My band is called Albanian Mob Murder. We don't play out and we don't practice. We just drink and record. I sing and play the Xanax. The band started because I had some songs written that I wanted to record for the movies, but we got kind of fond of each other. Regs Tonti, the redhead in the movies does backing vocals. Jawsh is our main drummer, but we all play drums sometimes. Whichever of my ex-boyfriends I dislike the least plays the guitar, so you know... it changes. Oh right, there’s a 7 inch that exists that eastern-watts put out. I don’t have a copy, but the cover is me taking my pants off with a bad tambourine bruise.

DS: I dont really have a band. its just me. one day i got completely obsessed with hobos while staring at a wall, so i called it hobo seance. i kinda picture singing while standing in front of a barrel fire under a bridge. this is the future of my “band”.

Ambient Bummer is Spector heartbreak pop through filthy colour-correction filters. Tim and Vice pine for vacay and eachother, ever loyal when it all falls to pieces. In Vice’s solo protest for Tim’s freedom she’s Peggy Angel before her boyfriend came back; she’s Lesley Gore and this is her crashed party. Lawn-Darte and Steele are Danny Zuko and Sandy after the flying car and on a comedown. It’s feelings like this made us fall in love with their movies and we can’t wait for the sequel - 21st century rock’n’roll romance, with style and hearts they’re not afraid to use.


TP: What are Steele’s best/worst qualities?
BLD: best: disguising narcissism
worst: sensitivity

TP: What is your favourite film?

BLD: I really liked our JCVD new years marathon. Also Point Break. They say that Keanu Reeves doesn’t look for the camera, he let’s the camera find him. We could all learn from that, except I am not really sure why anyone in a movie would be looking for the fucking camera.

TP: If you could take anyone to see one of your movies, who would it be?

BLD: Probably Dave E McManus. I don't know why but it it just seems right. Or Crispin glover. He’d probably bring some kind of weird snacks. Both good options, I think.

TP: What is the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?

BLD: Well I usually put my credit card and ID in my bra in case I get mugged, but don’t always remember to take them out and put them back in my wallet. So sometimes the first thing I am trying to figure out is where in my apartment I took off my bra. Then I check all the paper that’s all over the wall by my bed for any notes I may have written myself while half asleep.

TP: What would be your perfect Vacay?

BLD: I’ve been thinking about cruises a lot. I think I would probably either love or hate them. I’d be making a movie, someone else would make the cocktails.

TP: What's your favourite scene in an LD&S movie?

BLD: Definitely the scene in RETINABALL! Where Dang and I are sitting around the volcano.We were surrounded by dry ice, but we still kept forgetting we were filming. You can tell because we are holding glasses of colored vinegar for the volcano and Dang's lips are blue because he kept accidentally drinking it. Later he made the music which was this perfect fake jukebox first date lovesong, and I edited the scene and turned him into a creepy talent agent drug pusher type. He wasn't mad. Everything was just about perfect.

TP: Politics?

BLD: None. Not because I am disillusioned or distrustful of the system or anything, but because I just don’t really care enough to stay up on it. I’m pretty self absorbed, you know.

TP: Would you rather have to spend a whole day acting, in public, as if you were the lead in a musical or be at a good party and have your parents turn up and hang out?

BLD: I actually wouldn't mind the musical thing. As long as I could bring a drummer. I'd probably just hangout in a laundromat all day. That's the perfect place for that kind of shit.

TP: Do you believe in ghosts?

BLD: Nah, and it's partially because I'm a materialist, but partially the
same answer as the politics question. Self-absorbed. Life is for the living.


TP: What are Lawn-Darte’s best/worst qualities?
DS: best: obsessing
worst: moving on

TP: What is your favourite film?

DS: In an imaginary world id say Electric Dreams. i saw it when i was a kid but only remember the theme song, so i just make it up in my head. its insanely romantic. surreal. soul shattering. Ive never seen Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence either.

TP: If you could take anyone to see one of your movies, who would it be?

DS: Becky. seriously. maybe the girl from Domino Dancing.

BLD: Ima punch that domino bitch if she’s a real person.

TP: What is the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?

DS: i heard iggy pop does fifty pushups right when he gets up, thats why he looks so good. i dont even know if that story is true.

TP: What would be your perfect Vacay?

DS: wall papering my yacht followed by serious clam diving.

BLD: Remember when you wanted to get a gambling problem because you thought somehow you would get a yacht out of it? and you made a to-do list? I think having a fundraiser was on it. Eff cruises. My perfect Vacay is on Dang’s gambling yacht.

TP: What is your favourite scene from a LD&S production?

DS: aside from the telepathy. broken noses, endless skittles, car chases.

BLD: Yeah, I don’t take any pictures so in a weird way these movies are kind of my
fucked up photo albums.

TP: Politics?

DS: this party is lame. you wanna get outta here? im a photographer.

BLD: Oh yeah, and we’re shallow. Like disco shallow.

TP: Would you rather have to spend a whole day acting, in public, as if you were the lead in a musical or be at a good party and have your parents turn up and hang out?

DS: the reality of my public persona being an act already is somewhat crushingly sad. my mom would have cheap beer in a cooler that looks like a purse.

BLD: Let’s actually do this. Bring drums. And your mom.

TP: Do you believe in ghosts?

DS: when i get lonely enough.

BLD: Sell-out.

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