Lowlands is an episodic exploration into the nebulous metropolis of Los Angeles.
Follow wandering Angelenos through the endless landscape as an immodest writer takes a long hike, a lost driver desperately searches for the hospital, a philosopher hunts for the best Chinese food, a couch-surfer goes on a midnight joyride, and several others drift and drop through the city's corridors.
In this fragmented walkabout everyone's searching for the ever-elusive center of their city — what they actually find is never the same.
Lowlands playfully considers the physical constructs and contortions of an urban space as having an active influence on the thoughts and lives of its inhabitants. This concept was once exemplified in the French situationist practice of the dérive (literally drift in English), where one takes an un-planned exploration through their own city — guided only by the streets, buildings, people, natural contours and varied ambiances.
In popular perception Los Angeles has a history of zero history, a desire for constant reconstruction and reinvention, and remains the most filmed city in the world — both playing itself and standing in for other cities. In other words, it's easy to have an identity crisis when your city has one.
Despite all this, there is an authentic city to be found — a true experience behind the facade. In Lowlands, a young generation comes to confront the city as a group of weary travelers and drifters, trying to make sense of their lives in the city they call home.
Shot in the neighborhoods of Hollywood, Echo Park, Downtown, San Gabriel, Montebello, Rosemead, Pasadena, San Pedro, Long Beach, Venice, Pacific Palisades, Malibu and the South Valley, the production of Lowlands was itself an exploration of Los Angeles.
The series of shorts was shot guerilla-style on a shoestring budget with DSLR cameras mounted to car windshields and doors. In the style of new-wave filmmaking, much of the dialogue (and camera work) is improvised.
One animation segment featuring an L.A. expat (the only episode set outside the city limits) was recorded with improvised dialogue and then animated using a unique rotoscope style.
Frontman Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes/Swan Lake) unifies all eight shorts with the brilliantly moody tunes of his latest solo venture, Blackout Beach. Songs appear from the album "11 Pink Helicopters in the Coral Sky."
No permits were filed, but neither were any tickets issued. Except for parking.