Washland Express mixes my more comedic voice with my love of noir films like Blood Simple and Out of the Past. Previously I’d felt excluded from this particularly masculine genre, and I wanted to find my version, so I gave myself the assignment to write a short about a robbery. While I was searching for a robbery that didn’t feel like a generic stick-em-up, I was reminded of my love of car washes. They can feel like a magical amusement park ride, but the claustrophobia can also be unnerving.
The setting then played a huge role in determining the style and look of the film, and the focus on car culture pushed the film towards a timeless Americana aesthetic. We also played with the amusement-park-ride feel of the car wash by adding colored lights to the wash. I wanted to put these two misfits through a literal tunnel of love. The car wash itself also dictated how we shot. Accepting the limitations of shooting within a real car wash forced us to be creative and make bold decisions. We relied on a wide shot from the backseat, which allows us to observe how the wash pulls Cora and James forward, like an unseen force. To believe this strange love story, there had to be a kind of magical, surreal feel.
The ending, in particular, feels dreamlike. For these two, it is their dream ending - two crazy people finding a twisted way to be together. Cora may have been the unsuspecting victim, like most women in crime stories, but she ends the film with the upper hand. She hits James with her car, and he loves it. He's finally found someone he can play weird games with. They are so wrong they are right. If Washland has something to say about love it's that finding your partner means finding someone who enjoys what's wrong with you.