While most of us have at least heard of Nevada’s annual Burning Man festival, this week I stumbled upon its younger, grittier, and lesser-known little brother: Wasteland. For four straight days, festival-goers roast in the heat of the dry southern California desert, participating in what might be described as a real-life Mad Max movie.
Wasteland: Another Roadside Attraction, a new short film shot and edited by Vimeo user MEL Films, gives us a glimpse into the fashion and fun of this post-apocalyptic fantasy festival. Slow motion shots of vehicles and costumes that could have come straight off a Hollywood stage are interluded with one festival goer’s personal story. As MEL Films describes on their website:
For Mike Orr, a.k.a. “Sweet Lips,” escapism comes in the form of Wasteland Weekend: an annual four-day post-apocalyptic festival held in the Southern California desert that attracts thousands of people from around the country. It’s basically a giant celebration of end-of-the-world culture, where, per Sweet Lips, “people can do whatever they want.” This includes everything from hand-to-hand combat to burlesque to bonfires that set the night sky ablaze.
But most of all, people come to Wasteland for the cars — DIY war machines that look as though they’ve rolled right out of Fury Road. For his part, Sweet Lips is in a constant competition to outdo himself, always imagining, devising and constructing a junkyard monster that’s bigger and better than the year before.
In the film, Sweet Lips (a marine biologist by day) recounts his different art projects over the years and makes some poignant remarks about Wasteland’s appeal. His best line resonates with not only festival participants but also with anyone who has ever thought of themselves as an artist: “I don’t think you can get away with not tying yourself into your creation, that’s art.”
Interested in attending this year’s Wasteland? It is happening September 22-25 in the barren desert landscape of California City, California. With tickets over 50% sold out, don’t waste time and head on over to the Wasteland Weekend website to get yours.We might just see you there.