If you think about it, really think about it, I bet some memorable moments in your life took place inside a car. For me I remember sitting in a car with the feeling of total failure coursing through my body as I travelled home after quitting my University degree, the numbing silence of a 4-hour journey to my Uncle’s funeral and the crushing blow of the death of Kurt Cobain announced on the radio (that was a memorable moment for the 15yr old version of me).
Tapping into this theory by presenting a series of life changing conversations all taking place inside of cars is Daniel Lundh’s aptly-named People in Cars, a deceptively simple short that keeps its audience hooked with conversations instead of the high speed chases we’d usually expect from on-screen vehicles.
Created by Lundh as an “exercise in creating truthful dialogue”, and as a break from making commercial work, People in Cars may be an uncomplicated approach to storytelling, but it’s this simplicity that makes it so effective and so compelling.
“I was originally writing a screenplay for another short, but when it came to dialogue I felt it just didn’t fly, no matter how I approached it always felt flat”, Lundh reveals. “So I decided to learn and set out to film a few long dialogues, people sharing secrets. That was basically it”.
“The idea of filming in a car was more or less a budget decision”
Making his viewers feel as if they are eavesdropping on some private and personal conversations this captivating short is a prime example that storytelling is key and a dynamic aesthetic isn’t always needed to create an effective, memorable short. Matching his narrative approach with an equally stripped down production, though the stylistic choices feel perfectly picked to focus the attention on the dialogue, it sounds as if there were other influencers in the decision.
“The idea of filming in a car was more or less a budget decision”, Lundh admits. “A car is like a small studio, so it made sense to film there. Originally I shot only one scene with two friends of mine (the scene where one guy realises he just got dumped at a sushi restaurant) it was a lot of fun and I felt that we were on to something. So I sat down and wrote five more stories, and the rest is history”.
“Some scenes took over twenty re-takes, other scenes only needed one take”
“The actual process was very intuitive”, he adds, “based on my short stories I let the actors improvise each scene 2-3 times before shooting. I knew where I wanted them to end up, but how they got there was more or less up to them. Some scenes took over twenty re-takes, other scenes only needed one take”.
People in Cars is a short film I love for the focus it puts on dialogue, it’s a film that perfectly embodies what can be achieved with a small budget and it’s a film I’m genuinely excited to be sharing on Short of the Week. In a nutshell, it’s one of my favourite films of the year (more on this coming soon) and I’m already eagerly looking forward to see what Lundh creates next.
“I’m now working on writing a few outlines for new shorts, he says, “one of them has a similar setup to People in Cars, only this time it’s on BOATS. No just kidding, but similar setup”.