"Through an alleyway, an escalator, and a train, a woman enters a dream. With a gun and a flashlight, she pursues a cowering manchild. Violence is implied. In a bright room with white sheets, she cries as her lover lies dead in a pool of blood. The man awakens and gives her a hug, but it is a hug that suffocates."
The idea for Motor originated as a dream, but burst out of my head in a brief moment while in a classroom in which a segment from Kurosawa’s Dreams played (and was subsequently ignored as I scribbled away in my notebook). I wanted the idea to change as little as possible from that initial inspiration. Too often ideas are beaten to death—in academia, as well as in the film world where every decision can be a costly expense. There has been more than one occasion where I have gotten to the end of a long, arduous filmmaking process, and thought, “For this?! What the fuck is this? Why did I even want to make this?” That being said, while making Motor, I had very similar thoughts, so despite the change in process, I did not feel anymore assured. I did enjoying flying by the seat of my pants, and I had to chuckle to myself at the absurdity the actors were experiencing at my behest (they were very good sports).
As previously stated, Motor began as a vivid dream. In the dream, I aimed a gun at someone, fired, tracked them through snowy woods and beat them to death, but I never knew who it was or why, although there was a feeling of justification, vengeance. There are other hazier components of the dream—a house, cohorts, etc. I awoke in a sweat and I felt very guilty. The concept of feeling guilty for a thought is something I have wrestled with for a long time—no doubt as a result of my Christian upbringing. I am still not sure where I stand on the subject. On one hand, I believe that human beings must think about difficult things in order to evolve and progress. While at the same time, I doubt that peace begins with violent thoughts... but who knows? I definitely don’t beat myself up as much as I used to, because the ability to entertain an idea without acting upon it is perhaps the greatest aspect of being human--imagination if you will.
I have also wrestled with the idea of where the “I” resides. I have had moments where I feel as though my being, or soul, or consciousness is inside my head. This thought process also has the affect of making me feel divorced from my physical being—I can look at my hand and it doesn’t feel as though my hand is me. Hell, I can look in the mirror and feel that. An easy metaphor is that of the passenger. The body carries the consciousness from place to place, which is where the train comes into play in Motor. Motor depicts the protagonist being propelled by various things (her body, an escalator, a train, a gun) towards an outcome she ultimately does not desire. One has to accept, with a certain fatalist flair, that the 'train' we all ride could derail at any moment.
Control is a strange concept. As humans we are expected to be in control of ourselves and depending on your philosophical outlook to let go of controlling 'everything else' or exert as much control over 'everything else' as possible. To lose control is a flaw, but to lose oneself (on the dance floor, perhaps?) is a good quality. A train is the illusion of control--it seems one of the safest modes of transportation around, but even it can come off its tracks. A train is one of the greatest metaphors or symbols in human history. Aside from being synonymous with the industrial revolution, it has been used to illustrate sex, power, fate, history and humanity itself. Was it an accident that the first moving image was of a train?
The sound of a train (or a motor or an engine) is clearly a source of inspiration in this piece. I find it fascinating because in most instances, a person is able to “tune out” the sound of an engine, but if one “tunes in” they will discover an immense, enveloping harshness rather than a numbing, ignorable drone.