Friday, June 17, 2011

Filmmaker's Airport Hijinks Get High-Fives from Airport Administration

Two California filmmakers got stuck at an airport overnight and decided to make a movie about the way they spent their time stranded - playfully marauding through the terminal. Joe Ayala and Larry Chen filmed themselves causing harmless mischief late night in a deserted Dallas/Fort Worth airport.

The first remarkable thing about the film is how well-shot it is. Ayala and Chen, both automotive photographers, were flying back from a shoot and had about $30,000 worth of camera equipment between them. The fluorescent lighting combined with vast space of an airport make for an interesting set. It's hilarious to watch them entertain themselves and obvious that they have free reign of the terminal - they throw spitballs in the bathroom, race wheelchairs through the halls, even use the PA system. Their escalator routine is physical comedy gold, and their easy access to booze is jaw-droppingly shocking (mostly in wistful jealousy - you can do that!?).

But after viewing, the film is infuriating. Not at the filmmakers, but at the airport. Considering what a person goes through to a terminal, the uncomfortable-at-best process of lock-down, level "Orange" security measures (whatever that means, anyway). Babies who are patted down. Whole body-image scannings. I expect that an airport is a fucking fortress after I get through that puff machine. DFW is completely deserted throughout what appears to be the entire night (Chen said they were shooting non-stop from 1:00-4:30 a.m.). The only other person seen on film is a maintenance man. David Magaña, the airport spokesman, noted that security agents did observe the filmmakers at the airport, but “because the filmmakers were presenting no threat to themselves, to others or to flight safety, and were causing no damage, there was no imperative to curtail their activities.” BOYS WILL BE BOYS, AMIRITE?

While the airport manager tried to downplay the harm, DFW airport board member Betty Culbreath pointed out that despite the lightness of the mischief, the film sends the wrong message. “It’s not funny. It’s not going to happen again as far as I’m concerned. It should not have happened because it gives the perception the airport is sitting out there unguarded and that’s why I was concerned, and am still concerned.” Magaña, unconcerned that you have given up your right not to get felt up every time you fly in exchange for such security, seems unconcerned of these implications. He goes on to point out that the filmmakers have done the airport a favor by mentioning that the airport is now better securing the restaurant after hours. SUCCESS! Because Ruby Tuesdays is what you were hoping would be more secure after seeing that film. Magaña also continues to uphold the airlines worst-business-model-in-the-world standards by "pointing out in a creative way a lot of times travel plans are altered and you gotta make the best of it. These guys did that.” Yeah, quit complaining about your cancelled flight. Get creative, you whiners!

For now, their hijinx are being accepted as clever pranks - Magaña said they "had received few complaints because the men cleaned up after their stunts, picked up their spit balls in the bathroom and returned the wheelchairs. Chen even washed and returned his beer glass." The airport has not decided whether or not to press charges, but it sounds unlikely since the CEO of DFW "really liked [the film]". It's a big win for the guys. Their shitty night stuck grounded in DFW turned out to be not completely insufferable, unlike most time spent in an airport, and the stunt will certainly be great for their careers. But for me, it's infuriating to have to rely on hackers like Lulzsec or filmmakers like Chen and Ayala to point out the inherent flaws in the security of businesses who demand our private information or loss of civil liberties in exchange for their services.

Originally posted by Rachael on

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