Sleeze Lake: Vanlife at its Lowest & Best

Set among the foggy memories and ephemera of the world's largest custom van club, "Sleeze Lake" tells the story of a wild van party thrown in the middle of a fictitious resort town and the people who dreamt it up.

Long Synopsis: It’s 1977 and the idealistic message of the hippie counter-culture has played a decade long game of telephone with America’s youth. Still searching for freedom and community in a post Vietnam world, groups of young people took to the open roads in shag-carpeted custom vans. They called themselves “vanners” and their culture was a strange cocktail of irreverence and hedonism.

On the south side of Chicago, the van proved the perfect escape vehicle from the smog of the steel mills and refineries. It was here that a van club called Midwest Vans Ltd. was born. On Memorial Day weekend in 1977, these blue collar outcasts set out to build their own personal utopia, free of rules and restrictions. They erected a ramshackle resort town around a small pond and called it “Sleeze Lake”. When over 20,000 people showed up to the party all bets were off! Set among the foggy memories and ephemera of a subculture lost into the arms of time, Sleeze Lake tells the story of Midwest Vans and the biggest party you’ve never heard of.

For Mature Audiences Only.

  • Andrew J. Morgan
    Vannin', Hill Climb, North Branch
  • Nick Nummerdor
    Concrete Dreams, Vannin'
  • Nick Nummerdor
    Hannibal Takes Edinburgh (Netflix), Skate or Die
  • Andrew J. Morgan
    Vannin' , Hill Climb, North Branch,
  • Terry Cook
    Key Cast
    Former Editor of Hot Rod Magazine
  • Jourdon Gullett
    Uprise Skateshop, Dark Matter Coffee, Solemn Oath Brewery
  • Andrew J. Morgan
    Director of Photography
    Candyman (2020) Shadow Puppet Material
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    gonzo, poetic, verite, interview, archival, participatory, automotive, weird, midwest, sub culture, underground, vanlife, van life, veterans, psychedelic, acid, stoner, drunk, quirky, 8mm, sick, vietnam, punk, heavy metal, human interest, aging, rural
  • Runtime:
    59 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Heartland International Film Festival 2020
    United States
    October 10, 2020
    USA Streaming Premiere
  • Calgary Underground Film Festival 2020
    June 13, 2020
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Indy Film Fest 2020
    Indianapolis IN
    United States
    August 13, 2020
    Indiana Premiere
    WINNER: Best of Hoosier Lens Award 2020
  • San Fransisco Documentary Festival 2020
    San Francisco
    United States
    September 5, 2020
    US Premiere (Streaming only CA)
    Official Selection
  • Chicago Underground Film Festival 2020
    November 22, 2020
    Illinois Premiere
    *Closing Night Film!
  • Moviate Underground Film Festival 2020
    Harrisburg PA
    November 13, 2020
    Only Feature Film Selected for 2020
  • Berlin Underground Film Festival 2020
    October 24, 2020
  • Arizona Underground Film Festival 2020
    United States
    September 12, 2020
    Arizona Premiere
  • Rock Horror in Rio Film Festival 2020
    Rio de Janeiro
    September 26, 2020
    Brazil Premiere
  • River Bend Film Festival 2020
    Goshen Indiana
    United States
    October 2, 2020
  • Moments Film Festival 2020
    Malaga Spain
  • Threadbare Mitten Film Festival 2020
    Lansing Michigan
    September 5, 2020
    Michigan Premiere
  • YoFiFest, The Yonkers Film Festival 2020
    Yonkers, New York
    November 6, 2020
    New York Premiere
  • DocuWest Documentary Film Festival 2020
    Denver Co
    United States
  • Brainwash Drive-In/Bike-In/Walk-In Movie Festival 2020
    Oakland, California
    September 4, 2020
  • Fresh Coast Film Festival - Sneak Preview "Rough Cut"
    Marquette Michigan
    October 19, 2019
    Rough Cut Sneak Preview
  • Videodrunk Film Festival 2020
    Oshawa, Ontario
    December 5, 2020
  • Austin Indie Fest 2020
    Austin, Texas
    November 20, 2020
    Texas Premiere
  • Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival 2020
    Tampa Bay FL
    December 5, 2020
    Florida Premiere
    Nominee - Best Documentary
  • Sydney Lift- Off Film Festival
    Sydney Lift-Off Film Festival 2020
    November 28, 2020
    Australia Premiere
  • Salem Film Festival
  • Middlebury New Filmmakers Film Festival
  • Sydney Underground Film Festival
  • Fargo Film Festival
Director Biography - Andrew J. Morgan, Nick Nummerdor

Growing up together in the industrial port city of Muskegon, Michigan director’s Nick Nummerdor and Andrew Morgan share a penchant to travel the path less walked when it comes to their filmmaking and subject matter. The pair of directors find that in between the cracks and fissures of our culture, there lies the fascinating lives and tales of American experience that are often written off as unimportant, mundane, or obscure. They have completed dozens of projects together. Their best known film Vannin’ successfully screened at numerous festivals and was a featured film on Amazon Prime in 2018.

Additional Bio:

Nick Nummerdor, Co-Director:
2017 Chicago Digital Media Production Fund Grantee, Nick Nummerdor is a filmmaker and skateboarder based in Chicago. His film, “Concrete Dreams”, a documentary following the decade-long struggle and ultimate triumph of one woman’s mission to provide a free public skatepark in Villa Park, IL recently gained distribution through skateboarder Tony Hawk’s RIDE Channel on YouTube. Nick is a former intern of Kartemquin films, graduate of Columbia College, and worked as an outreach coordinator for “Minding the Gap”.
“Hannibal Takes Edinburgh”, a film he produced and did sound on was executive produced by Judd Apatow and purchased by Netflix. His films “North Branch” and “Vannin’” are currently on Amazon Prime. Currently he’s producing a coming of age feature documentary titled “Skate or Die,” & editing a feature about female dog mushers in the midwest.

Andrew J. Morgan, Co-Director:
Since graduating Columbia College Chicago in 2008, Andrew J. Morgan has been working professionally as a director of photography on a number of projects ranging in size, budget, and style. In 2009, he helped start Little Cabin Films with friend and business partner, Nick Nummerdor. As Co-Director and Producer of “Vannin’” (2013), Morgan saw his first feature film go from conception to successful distribution via streaming services such as Amazon Prime. Morgan has also acted as a producer, director, and cinematographer on two short documentaries, “North Branch” (2018) and “Hill Climb” (2017), that both focus on unique aspects of Americana.

Most recently, he found himself as director of photography for Manual Cinema's shadow puppetry material to be included in the 2020 release of Monkey Paw Productions’ “Candyman” directed by Nia DaCosta.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

All the way back in 2012, myself and co-director Nick Nummerdor set out to make a film about the reclusive, and enigmatic American automotive subculture known as “vannin’”. We wanted to know where all the bubble windowed, shag carpeted boogie vans came from. What we got in return was a peak behind the curtain at an overlooked group of colorful characters and the gonzo world they have created for themselves. It was during the making of that film (Vannin’ - 2013) that we kept hearing rumblings of a mythic van party by the name of "Sleeze Lake". We dug through countless photo albums, ephemera, and our character's own big fish stories in an attempt to create a film that distills the unique culture of vanning in the 1970's.

As filmmakers who love to explore forgotten Americana, the chance to tell this story was irresistible. We wanted to share the creativity and do-it-yourself spirit of a forgotten subculture while also telling a story of youth in a bygone era. As everything in the world becomes more connected, it’s sometimes important to look back at a time when people could do their own thing and be who they wanted to be without the whole world watching; even just for a weekend.

Mix one part the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, one part Woodstock’s brown acid, add a dash of irreverence, and muddle it in a bit of hedonism and out comes something akin to Sleeze Lake. It is with great pleasure that we are able to present to you this exclusive story from a long buried volume in the library of Americana. Welcome to Sleeze Lake, the wildest party you’ve never heard of!

-Andrew Morgan & Nick Nummerdor, Co-Directors.