Inspired by a “surreal” real-life experience at a motel a few hours outside LA, Asphyxia is a dark and moody 10-minute thriller about two strangers and their dangerous sexual encounter. Exploring the relationship between repression and sexual violence, Will Lowell’s impressive short may orbit around the taboo subject of auto-erotic asphyxiation, but it’s a compelling watch that you can’t take your eyes off for one-second.
“I later called the motel to find out what had happened – I thought I’d hear about a shooting”
Strong in tone with an impressive aesthetic, whilst Asphyxia feels inspired by those (feature-length) thrillers with an erotic angle that have come before it, it’s also clear that this is the work of a filmmaker with a strong directorial style. And though the short’s production is damn-impressive, it’s a real-life motel encounter that prompted the director to create this story that feels most important to share with you – its audience:
“Around 4am, I heard screaming coming from the room next door”, Lowell reveals, “a man was repeatedly yelling at the top of his lungs “PLEASE DON’T DO THIS TO ME!!” I thought for sure this was a drug deal gone wrong, and that he was going to be killed and I’d be killed soon after (can’t have any witnesses…). I’ll admit, I was terrified, and I couldn’t even bring myself to turn on the light for fear of bringing attention to myself. As the screaming continued (for 15 minutes or more, uninterrupted), I packed my bag in the pitch black. Soon after, cop cars swarmed the parking lot. As the police approaching the room next to mine, I snuck out to my car at 4:30 in the morning and drove all the way back to LA”.
“I later called the motel to find out what had happened – I thought I’d hear about a shooting. Turns out the man inside the room was schizophrenic, and he was imagining the other person in the room with him. I didn’t get any writing done during my trip, but I did get the inspiration for Asphyxia from it, as well as a voucher for a free night stay at that motel, which I have yet to use.”
Shot over two days, in two main locations, with two central characters, the director and his team kept filming brief to make the most of their resources and attract the on-screen talent (by minimizing the time they’d need to commit). Funded via Kickstarter, where they raised over $10k, Lowell is excited by working in the short format as he feels it’s “the perfect venue for testing out new filmmaking styles and collaborative relationships”.
Lowell has recently directed another short called CUSTOM ORDER which he hopes to wrap later this year, is currently writing an original feature script for a production company in LA, as well as developing a feature he’s looking to direct in the not-too-distant future.