The video of two car guys exploring an empty Dallas airport exploded on the web after we posted it here yesterday, with many wondering if the video was real. Jalopnik spoke with the film's two creators last night to get the inside story of how — and why — they did it.
Joe Ayala and Larry Chen aren't just any two bored young men stuck in an airport. If they were they'd have slept. It turns out the two are both automotive photographers who jump from city to city churning out the kind of viral car videos Internet fanboys suck down like Red Bull for sites like Speedhunters and Driftfotos.
So when they found themselves trapped in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport terminal late one night on a layover following a Formula Drift event in West Palm Beach they did what they always do when they're bored: make movies. And since they were coming back from an event they just happened to have $30,000 worth of camera equipment between them.
How did you come up with the idea to shoot the film "Stuck?"
Larry Chen (LC): I thought of the idea. What happened was we kind of just sat down and then Joe said he had a headache and I said "Well, I have this one stick of beef jerky..."
What do I usually do when I pass the time when I'm bored? I usually shoot skits. I have all this camera gear so I thought "why don't we shoot one here?"
Joe Ayala (JA): We're always like having fun with our lives because we're traveling so much and we just have to make the best out of anything and we just happened to be in this situation at this time.
LC: It was definitely the most fun I've had in an airport. I just love shooting and when I'm shooting I'm in my special place. That's why I'm shooting every weekend.
How long did it take to film all this, it seems like a huge undertaking for just two people?
LC: We got in at about 11 pm, we did our planning and we did our shooting around 12 am and we got really to the meat of out it from 1-430ish and that's when we were shooting nonstop.
JA: Yeah, just straight shooting, just take over take over take.
How many gags did you have to shoot? How did you plan it out?
JA: Everything that you see in the film is really the only collection we have. Everything that we shot we used, though everything took a couple of takes.
LC: We didn't have a plan, we just shot one gag, thought of another. Everything is chronological. Like, we actually did that looking at each other, it actually happened it.
JA: We really were thinking there.
How did you pull if off with just the two of you? Some professionals have commented that they thought you had a crew.
LC: We didn't have a tripod with us but I had gear to shoot cars, so we used a suction cup mount, and we used a magic arm mount that is something that clamps on to anything. We clamped it on to the stalls in the bathroom, and to this railing for the escalator shot. But like, it's just like normal stuff, grip stuff that any professional photographer would have.
Did you run into any security? The airport seems incredibly empty.
LC: Yes, there were security guards rolling around.
JA: They sort of just stopped, looked, and realized that we weren't a threat and moved on.
This is a big question: people see you walk into that restaurant (Pappadeuxs) and pour yourself a beer. Did you pay for it?
LC: I wasn't actually going out to steal beer. It was like we just got on this mystical escalator and it took us to this restaurant. If we could have faked it somehow we would have, we just did that just for the shot.
I washed the cup and put it back in the fridge. I wanted to leave no trace. I didn't want to cause any trouble. Next time we go to that airport I'll get a beer and leave a $20 tip.
There have been some rumblings in the press about some people at the airport being upset, have you spoken with them?
LC: We talked with one of the reps from the DFW airport and he was really cool about it.
JA: He told us that he used to shoot films or something and he appreciated of some of the shots we did. And he showed it to the CEO of the Airport and he really liked it.
What's your take away from this whole adventure?
JA: I'm shooting it as part of this DVD as like "behind the scenes" in the community of drifting as part of this big family that's a part of drifting. This is just like a little piece that's a thing that we have going on.
LC: For me I just want people to take it really lightly. No matter what we're given for a shoot or for like a setup shot, or for like a feature shoot, or an event, we always make the best out of it.
We're always joking around in the media tents and taking pics of each other (sometimes more than the cars we're covering). That's sort of how I look at life. When we're stuck at an airport we're sort of like "let's take pics of each other!" It's part of a way of enjoying life and not taking things to seriously.
Photos Credit: Larry Chen and Joe Ayala