Harold & Bunnie began as a meta-like dream that I had about my friend Michal and I making it. After telling him about this dream, we set out to develop it as a project. Through a few months of discussion, Harold & Bunnie evolved in a number of ways but it always unmistakably retained the same basic elements that I felt and remembered from my dream: the gray area between eroticism and discomfort.
We filmed Harold & Bunnie in early April, at a motel called the Heart ‘O Chicago. I had not slept in over 24 hours on the day of the shoot, having arrived in Chicago early in the morning after a 17 hour workday in Austin and spending the first part of the day prepping for Harold & Bunnie and doing a number of other photo shoots.
In the haze of sleep deprivation, I left most of my self-consciousness behind. I allowed myself to be filmed and photographed in hideous undergarments, topless, and wrestling one of my closest friends wearing arguably the creepiest bunny mask ever created. It was just what we wanted.
Harold & Bunnie is not meant to look elegant or stylized. Our intent was to create conflicting feelings between the brain and bulge within the viewer. With every bodily imperfection, harsh lighting, and desperate behavior between two very average people, unattractive mediocrity is embraced and exploited.
A few days after the shoot, the footage and photographs came in. I had a difficult time sifting through them to say the least. Putting aside sheer personal narcissism (Who actually wants to see themselves being super unattractive?) the content itself was difficult for me to swallow. It definitely achieved what we set out to do but I just didn’t expect myself to be so unnerved by it since I was one of three who made it.
So what’s going to become of Harold & Bunnie? I’m not sure. After that initial wave of disgust, I’m growing more and more desensitized to the content as I edit it. However, I wonder if my personal reaction to the content is actually making me frame the final output of this project differently, thereby not fully committing to the original intent.
Regardless, Harold & Bunnie was an incredible experience. The memories of shooting it at the Heart ‘O Chicago on Michal’s 28th birthday will not be forgotten. If nothing else, Harold & Bunnie is a testament to three creatives and immensely brave (or foolish) people having a good time together.
Text: Joannie Wu
Photograph: Johnny Mei
LINK: Heart ‘O Chicago