This week in theaters Academy Award winning director Michel Gondry takes on a new kind of Super-Hero movie with Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet. Though the film has been taking heat from bloggers and fans since the project began, that never stopped Gondry from taking an unconventional super-hero story, with an unpredictable super-hero who is more known for his side-kick than himself, casting risky actors and seeing the project through to the end. If there’s one thing that Gondry is, it’s an inspiration to all of us to get off our asses, stop criticizing others and start doing things ourselves. And as he said in the press conference earlier that day, sometimes tequila helps with that!
Find out more from the Frenchman himself in our one on one interview below…
How are you? Not too exhausted promoting the film?
Michel Gondry: Oh yes, but I’ve been exhausted all my life, so I can’t see the difference.
What was the one thing that made you have to be a part of this project?
MG: It’s hard to say, because it came twice to me. One time in 1997 and then again two-three years ago. it’s a combination of the first time it not working out and I felt bad and my son. I told him too much about this movie. So the second time around, I just had to do it to show my son that I had made it. So I would say my son is my reason why I had to do this movie.
What about this genre interested you?
MG: First we have to define the genre, because this genre is “super-hero” which is not really something that appeals to me, but “super-hero” is also like an action-comedy, which appeal to me a lot. It’s a way of seeing, with characters, watching ordinary people doing extraordinary things and that’s what interested me.
Gondry definitely took a look of risks on this film, from the tone to the casting choices, that being said it’s not what one would expect from Gondry. Talking to him I realized how he really tries to do simple things in different ways and loves a challenge. He also likes to break things down into wonderful analogies.
A lot of people were having issues with this film because of a lot of bold choices made, what do you have to say about those decisions and then the early, bad buzz? Do you like to shock people with your decisions to step outside the box of what we expect from you?
MG: Well, step outside the box yes, shock people, it’s not really nice. A lot of people make a lot of silly things just to shock people, it’s sort of a cheap way to attract attention and I would rather attract attention with something more special. So, I don’t think of shocking people when I made the decision to take this project. I think of it’s more thinking outside of the box, because to find the truth, to find anything different you have to put yourself out there and it’s how you deal with this.
I realized recently that I keep looking for my keys in the morning, and the only way to find them is when I decide not to look for them but to look for something else. And I just understood why this works and now it works all the time, because when you look for you keys you’re going to look in the same places again and again and you’re not going to find them because they’re not in those places. When you start to say, I’m going to look for my wallet and the first thing you find is your keys. And then if you need your wallet you look for your glasses or telephone. That’s the definition of thinking outside of the box because if you don’t think outside you’re going to do the same thing again and again. To make something different you have to go in a new direction and see what you find in the new place.
How did you visually make this your film? I noticed a lot of reflection on every surface possible?
MG: I wanted to show the fight sequences in a creative away, but not in a way that would take you out of the story and be so stylized that you wouldn’t feel like there was a real fight going on. I was trying to make people what they felt. They used to use slow-mo and it was so different [it was like] nothing that was used before. Now when you see a slow-motion shot you think about it from a previous time and so now it sends you back, which doesn’t make you feel anything special. So I was trying to find a new way that makes you feel like “oh! what’s going on?!” That makes you doubt what you’re looking at. How can I show these guys, taking out 10 guys, and have it look like those 10 guys are waiting for their turn, I wanted them to be moving. So now when they punch one guy, the other is still floating, and beating up the next guy, so it was that that dictated my decision.
Whenever we interview Seth he’s always very playful? Does he ever get serious?
MG: We only had an hour during the fight set and it lasted 15 minutes. And I didn’t want to listen to him and I sent him a text message saying “I love you” and he was back right away. Another time it was me who left and called me and he said “you have to come back” and then I came back, but that was about it. It’s about how we solved it. Each time we had a difference we spoke or we got drunk once — if I wanted to complain he’d convince me everything was fine.
There were so many funny meetings with him and the producer and executives. There were so many funny meetings where they wanted to punch each other, but you could tell they were friends, it’s like best friends on the school yard. It was more like when you fight your brother.
At the heart of it, Gondry is an experimental film-maker who has now experimented with the mainstream. Though I wish I could have seen more “Gondry” and many people will say the same, I have to respect him for not just giving us what we wanted and for trying something new. I think his motto for making this film is a great one for film-makers of all levels.
You seem to love film-making in all it’s forms, what’s a tip that you have for aspiring film makers out there?
Two pieces of advice.
1. Finish Your Project
2. Start your Project
And in this order, it’s important that you use it in this order because the problem is that I hear young directors that are more scared about the result and how they will be judged by the result, that they go through life and don’t do anything.
People come to me and say “I’ve been asked to do this movie or that video, but I think it might be bad for my image, maybe I shouldn’t do it?” I always tell them, “what is your goal right now? Is it to do a bad movie, or to do no movie at all?” And they realize that the potential is much greater than any other possibilities. Grab the chance when you have, don’t think about how people will judge you. Which is scary with the internet because there are many more people to judge you and have their voices heard than those who are willing to go and make things. So it’s important to do something, not to get frozen by the possibility that people might not like it.
As long as you’re trying, making and doing something you believe in — you’re a part of the film-making culture. No one is ever going to love everything, but it is nice to know that you haven’t just followed others and that you’ve taken the chance.
Check out Gondry’s latest film The Green Hornet in theaters January 14th!