Harry Bryant's Milk-Drinking, Camel-Riding Fever Dream Is About To See The Light Of Day - Stab Mag

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Harry Bryant’s Milk-Drinking, Camel-Riding Fever Dream Is About To See The Light Of Day

‘Motel Hell’ is a three year lovechild of slabs, lactose, and live music.

// Oct 27, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“None of it means anything, we’re not trying to tell a story, we just want to inject a bit of character and a bit of soul back into surf films,” Harry Bryant tells me, after heartily chuckling about my name. “Everything is so instantaneous now, and I’m not negging out on it, I just have a different view. I’m lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work on a surf movie, and this is how I wanted to do it. Vans and Monster gave us full creative freedom, they trusted us, and this is the product of that.”

After three years, Harry Bryant and filmmaker Dave Fox’s lovechild — ‘Motel Hell’ — is ready for the public eye. As you’ll see from the above trailer, it looks to quite possibly lodge itself in the collective library of unforgettable surf cinema. 

“We’ve been chipping away at this for a while — and the first part of the film is based in Australia through the lockdowns. When everything opened back up, we wanted to go places aside from the same surf camps where you’re guaranteed waves.”

“To this day, I find myself sitting on the couch watching videos like Loose Change, Doped Youth, all of these clips with skit elements to them,” Harry says. “We gained a lot of inspiration from Jack McCoy, and those corny skit-type things that don’t necessarily mean anything. The storyline of the film is just ridiculous, the whole aim of it is to confuse people. When we weren’t surfing, everyone who was involved was running around towns in overalls, shooting skits with an old 16mm wind-up film camera. That was the most fun part of the trips — like trying to find a guy on the beach who has a camel we can rent for half an hour.”

The narrative, as Harry tells me, seems to swirl around a dark lactose wormhole, the likes of which Ralph Steadman and Jim Morrison could only dream of. 

“Basically, I wake up stranded in the desert and see the mirage of a pub in the distance. The bartender serves me up a glass of milk, and I’m looking around the pub. Everyone seems to be drinking milk, and it’s sending them flat-out insane, but there’s nothing else to drink, so I pound it. That’s basically a time portal, and I wake-up on a riverbank in Indonesia, where Dion and Shaun Manners pick me up.”

Not for the faint of lactose tolerance.

Though they began shooting during the COVID lockdowns, the film evolved and grew as borders opened and surf travel became possible again. Rather than jet to Deserts, however, Harry and the fellas ventured to a handful of less trodden coastlines — hoping to immerse the viewer into different cultures.

“We wanted to go places aside from the same surf camps where you’re guaranteed waves. Immersing into culture, and giving people the feeling of each place. Hopefully people watch it and want to pack their board bags to go somewhere random.”

“We also had the whole soundtrack scored by some local artists around Wollongong,” Harry adds, proudly. “It was a really cool process, we rented a music studio, projected a timeline of footage up on the wall, had five or six bands come in over the space of three days, and jammed out to the footage until we were like ‘yep, that works.’”

“With music licensing now, it’s insane. If you want a video to live on the internet, the loopholes you’ve gotta jump through are ridiculous. We just wanted to create something new. It’s original sound to footage that noone has seen before. I thought that was pretty cool.”

“The collection of crew who gave us their time for this was huge. Especially Big Dav, the editor. He’s got a one-year old daughter, and he’s been darting around the world filming me surfing, and now he’s living at home manically editing a full length film. He’s got such a creative mind, and having that work ethic in someone who backs me has been insane.”

Here’s where you can watch the film in the coming months.

Full Stab Interview with Haz coming upon digi release.

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