Murphy's Law

For three weeks in July of 2006, one camera followed Look Down cross-country in a borrowed van.

The trip was long. Gas was expensive. Things were dire in The Summer That Swallowed Tours Whole.


In between its basement keg parties and rain-drenched highways, its sarcastic optimism and defeated frankness, Murphy's Law reveals not just a candid story of four friends on a beer-soaked road trip, but an apt chronicle of the recent past—a wayside on the toll road of 2006.

Junior Bush was smack in the middle of his second term, and a gallon of gas was hovering somewhere around $3.50. Housing prices had begun their staggering decline, job growth was stagnant—we started hearing whispers of a "downturn." These were the initial tremors of a swiftly rising tide—the casualties of a country keeling over. One year later, a bridge would crumble into the Mississippi River. Two years later—Recession. Panic. Doom and gloom.

Whatever can–will.

Murphy's Law serves as an approximate midpoint to our collective decade under water.


Look Down formed in 1999 and was among the first bands signed to Minneapolis label Afternoon Records (One For The Team, Haley Bonar). Joining the fledgling operation right out of high school, they quickly released an EP ("The American Hustle"), and one year later a long-player ("24/7 Dance Force"). They enjoyed brief local success when their song reached the Top 7 on Minneapolis indie station Radio K.

The band played their first road show in Beloit, Wisconsin in early 2006—a drunken near-riot that resulted in the entire band being 86'ed from the Beloit College campus grounds. Shortly thereafter, plans were laid for a tour—two weeks and eleven shows through the heart of the Midwest and Northeast. Joe prepared by moving into a kitchen closet at Jacob's Chicago apartment (the supposed former residence of a Smashing Pumpkin).


Look Down sets off in the early days of a suffocating continental heatwave—in a van without air conditioning. The band has never toured before and almost immediately, things begin to unravel. In one scene, the camera rolls continuously as Jacob attempts to start the van while Jake talks to the booker about that night's cancellation, and Joe smirks into the camera. "You're going to videotape the Apollo 13 of band tours now," he cracks.

The band's tour is eroded to ruins—coming to a standstill on a rusted steel truss above the Chicago River, trapped behind a mountain of garbage truck foulness. They park, spread their map over the hood, and plot a course. Determined to make the best of it, Look Down takes matters into their own hands, carving a road trip out of the American landscape, seeking out whatever shows and high jinks they might in the Summer of Molten America.


Shot over the course of three weeks with a consumer camcorder, and funded almost exclusively by seasonal employment, Murphy's Law marks an achievement in no-budget filmmaking. Diligently crafted over the course of one year and released on DVD in November of 2007, the film premiered at Eclipse Records in Saint Paul, quickly swept up praise from many Twin Cities publications, and went on to screen as part of Minneapolis' 2008 Homegrown Cinema Series.


Todd Pitman produced, directed, shot and edited Murphy's Law at the age of 21. He lives and works in Saint Paul, Minnesota.