There are doughnuts in dusty car parks soundtracked by breakneck D&B; BMWs career down country lanes on balmy summer afternoons; Seat Ibizas congregate at service stations before bombing around the M25 for hours on end.
Welcome to Midnight Express, the new short film directed by Joe Wilson for LAW, the bi-annual magazine committed to exploring the subcultural scenes that make Britain tick. Joseph Gainsborough was the DoP, Joseph Bond handled set design, Tim Head oversaw the graphic design side of thing and Rae Elliman cast the film.
Joe Wilson, an LCC graduate, documentary maker and It’s Nice That favourite, thinks of Midnight Express as “a visual album”, that is “full of the moments that can only exist thanks to both the confines and endless possibilities of cars."
It is a tribute to the men and women who’ve graduated from long evenings spent tinkering under the virtual bonnet in Gran Turismo to tweaking real, brilliant, and beautiful machines. These are the cars that have entranced everyone from the Italian futurists to the generations of speed-freaks who grew up on a steady diet of Max Power back issues and exhaust fumes.
Of Midnight Express, LAW’s founder and editor John Holt says, “The film captures the inimitable adrenaline surge of sitting in the back of your older brother’s SR Nova and hurtling through the streets into the night, with Nicky Blackmarket reverberating from the 6×9s.”
Unabashedly romantic, the film shows us a world where empty streets and long nights morph into a blank canvas for the kind of creativity that can only be aided by a few tons of immaculately tuned steel.
A million miles away from the Murray mints and Radio 2 of B-road clogging Sunday drivers, this is Britain’s hidden motoric reverse.
Joe Wilson is keen to point out that, “Obviously donuts and burnouts are pleasing to the eye, hopefully the audience can see that first and foremost, the people featured are car lovers through and through. The years of devotion that have gone into creating these beautiful machines and the communities that develop prove that this is so much more than teenagers ignoring speed limits. Also, there were nearly as many girls showing off their cars at the cruise as boys!”
Despite being embedded in this world for the short space of time that we were, you couldn’t help but be infected by the collective euphoria that is created," Joe went on to say. "Clinging on in the back of a mint condition BMW E30 (one of only 25 in existence) with the DOP Joe Gainsborough through the country lanes of Hertfordshire as other equally pristine models tore past us definitely made us feel blessed to be allowed an insight into this culture. Likewise, the sight of hundreds of onlookers lined up on the roundabout at Harlow Retail park in the middle of the night waiting eagerly for the next spectacle to happen gave you an idea of how special this movement is to them. As Jay said to us, talking of his favourite car: “When you’re driving it, it’s like being 18 again.”