Thursday, September 21, 2006

Crashing Into Yourself: Part Two

On Jonathan Glazer, Chris Cunningham, and Michel Gondry

Laura Veirs

In part one, Lynn Shelton talked about working with Laura Veirs on the soundtrack for We Go Way Back. In this section, we talk strictly about videos. For those only interested in reading about the film, be advised that we barely touch on it, but we'll be doubling back in the next installment. Meanwhile, the run of WGWB has been extended at the Varsity Theater, so you have another week to get caught up.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

I just made a music video for her.

[Please see previous post for the QuickTime video.]

That's great. It seems like a logical move for both of you.

It's turned out really nicely. I actually am probably prouder--as proud--
of this music video as I am of the feature. [laughs] I love it so much.

Maybe there's a way, in terms of screenings,
that the video could be seen with the film.

That would be really cool. I didn't even consider that for screenings. I think it's gonna end up on the DVD as an extra, if we get it all worked out with Warner.

What's the song?

"Magnetized." It's my favorite song on the album [Year of Meteors].

Is that your first music video?

Yeah, it is.

That's excellent.

Michel Gondry

I'm extremely excited about it. It's not the usual--it's definitely in the
category of the "artsy" ones. I don't know if you've seen a lot of videos.

I have... For Amazon, I reviewed the [latest] Directors Series,
and then I interviewed Michel Gondry when he was in town.


Yeah, and we didn't talk too much about videos, although it's clear to me
that he loves it. I mean, he doesn't have to do it. He has a feature film car-
eer, but as far as I can tell he's continuing on. He mentioned that he was just working on this video with Beck
["Cell Phone's Dead"] . I think he really enjoys
it--I mean, frankly, I'm sure it pays well--but I think he truly enjoys it.

Well, it probably does...but not for me! [laughs] They [Nonesuch] didn't ac-
tually want to give us any money. The album happened too long ago to them.
So, I think we'll get a budget for one for the next album, so that's something
to look forward to. But I was just so excited about this one that I paid for it
myself. From a lot of people, I got a lot of equipment and most of the people
worked for free, like the dancers. Yeah, it's a really exciting form of cinema.
I love how it's this way of sneaking experimental art into the mainstream.

It is.

Kids who are really excited by music may end up seeing one as a re-
sult of getting their hands on an enhanced CD or...Michel Gondry gets
on MTV, as well. Usually, experimental film has its own very separate
and tiny audience, and it never gets seen by anybody else, so....

Crashing into...Denis Lavant

Have you seen any of Jonathan Glazer's videos? Because those are some of the more--I don't know if I would say experimental--but his are definitely more, in terms of vibe and tone and mood, they're not...obvious. I'll just say that. And that's true of his feature film work too, whereas his commercials are a whole other thing. They're just expressing whatever they're meant to express.

Did he do the one with the French actor in the tunnel?

[UNKLE's "Rabbit In Your Headlights."]

Yes. That is like an experimental film.

It really is.

More than most, I think, although you could say that about Chris Cun-
ningham, too, but...
[it] isn't for me. I think I've seen all of his videos.

Except for that amazing one. It's incredible. Do you remember that one...

It's like people floating? Yeah, that's cool. And that [Portishead's "Only You"] actually doesn't look like his work.

I know.

Beth Gibbons floating in space

All these other ones, you've got machines and stuff. I love Björk, but Björk and robots--I don't know.

I'm actually sort of partial to that one ["All Is Full of Love"]. I mean, I was intrigued, but the floating one is just really cool. The thing that's so interesting about Chris Cunningham, that I like about him--and the same reason that I like that Jonathan Glazer video--is this getting away from an illustration of the music or the lyrics and whatever and just really going off to this other more associative place. It's really exciting. I'm teaching a music video production class at the Art Institute. I acquired it at the last minute. I really wanted to teach the class, and I didn't think I was gonna get to. I just love it--I love it. I love being able to talk about it and try to steer them towards [laughs] And most of them coming into that class are thinking, "I'm gonna make this very commercial video that looks like something [indistinguishable]," which most of them can't do, because those are million-dollar productions, and we don't have 35mm film, we don't have huge cranes, so I try to expose them to this whole other genre--subgenre--get them thinking that way.

I can see why you would appreciate Gondry then, because I think even
though some of his videos probably have a big budget behind them, there's
still a lot of stuff that he does that he could do for cheap if he were really,
really patient, like he has all that stop-motion stuff. And he does use CGI.

That's right, he does.

We didn't get into that, can't really tell. It's buried.

Exactly. That's what I love about his stuff--his use of effects. For the most part, they're all totally organic and to a purpose. It's like Eternal Sunshine, I felt the same way. I didn't feel like they were--I felt like some of them were even kind of...throw-away. Like, they were so brief or so tiny. You could hardly even see them. And they're not about the effects. Most see in movies is all about the effects, and he just--it's all a part of the whole, and it serves the greater purpose. It's very elegant. And he works hard to make them not look "computery," too. And half the time they aren't. I think he'd rather do something in-camera, if it's posible.

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in Eter-
nal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Plus, he was doing that when he was here... When he was doing an in-
terview for TV, he was working on some kind of flip book thing... I think
he's always working. I got this impression that he's...kind of obsessive.

I think my favorite one--well, I don't know if I can say that--but the
[Gondry video] that comes to me a lot is the [Chemical Brothers] 'Star
Guitar' one. That's the one where you're looking out the window of the train.

Do you have the booklet? He explains how he came up with the idea.

Oh, really? I've never read it.

I think it came from his brother [Twist].

His brother is the guy who makes all the technical stuff happen, because Mich-
el is not the technical guy. He comes up with the ideas and then he lets other
people--which is also really great. And it makes a lot of sense, too, because he's
so out there. He's not coming from this place of "Let's make this cool effect"...
he's just thinking of these wild ideas. He's a huge hero of mine--he's awesome.

Next up: On the Location, the Production, and the Cast


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