The 2023 Hot Rod Showdown
Sometime in the mid 1990’s, Jim Jarmusch produced and directed a classical western film entirely in monochrome. I’ve never been a huge fan of Jarmusch’s work and so I never bothered to watch it. This past week, however, I was having some trouble sleeping and couldn’t find any better options. I was shocked by just how beautiful “Dead Man” was…
Most modern black and white movies are clean and sanitary. Gone are the artifacts of projected film, old glass, and available light. All replaced by perfection and modern ways of doing things. The dark, grainy, and moody look of “Dead Man” inspired me. So much so, in fact, that I decided to do something unheard of. I decided to go to my second car show in three weeks.
The Hot Rod Showdown is a small pre-48 show in its fifth year of central Texas entertainment. The first four years were hosted in Wimberley, but a move was in order this year and somewhat amazingly, the fellas that host it were able to find yet another Western set for the venue not all that far down the road. So, on Saturday morning the boys and I shook off the after effects of Cinco De Mayo, hopped in some old Fords, and headed for Manor, Texas.
The Showdown has a reputation for being selective and pulling some of the nicest traditional cars in the area out of hibernation. That fact along with the Western theme of it all gave me an idea – why not pull out the Leica Monochrome, some old glass, and try to recreate the look of Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” film?
It’s the first time in years that I have walked around a car show with purpose. I took my time, grinded on each scene that I wanted to shoot, and really enjoyed the process. Usually, I shoot a show within 30-minutes and then sit around with my buddies and complain about how badly I want to leave. This time, it took me three solitary hours of work – leaving me only a couple of hours to annoy my pals. I think we all came away winners with my new approach.
Not that my shots are all that great. “Dead Man” was nothing without those moody skies… and that grain was so fine… and it’s gotta be dark and… By the time I emphasized all those elements in my own work, I started to feel like I was building a mid-to-late 1960’s genre killing custom car. Just, too much… of everything… maybe… sort of…
Regardless, I still like em. Maybe you will too? Enjoy:
Special thanks to all the fellas that make that show happen. It’s a good one. Sincerely.