The Gondry brothers create paper-cut music video for Idles’ Model Village
Michel created the paper village and its population, then filmed it on lightboxes before Olivier brought it to life through CGI, all during lockdown.
- 12 August 2020
- Jenny Brewer
- Reading Time
- 3 minutes
Brothers and directors Michel and Olivier Gondry have unveiled their lockdown project: a music video for Idles new track Model Village, made in collaboration with WePresent. The entire set and all its characters are made from cut out paper which Michel painstakingly hand-made in his LA studio during lockdown, before filming it on lightboxes on his iPhone and sending all the assets to Olivier in Paris to animate using CGI.
The song is inspired by band frontman Joe Talbot’s upbringing, who says he “hated growing up in a city that was really a town that was really a fishbowl. I left as soon as I could, only to realise the fishbowl didn’t exist… just the fish, and they’re everywhere.” Hence the video is a darkly surreal (it is Gondry after all) depiction of small-town life, where most of the population run around headless and the others are war-faring pigs, who eventually blow up a moon made of drugs. Keep your eyes peeled for the screaming airplane controls too.
“Basically, in the first part we try to illustrate the lyrics as close as possible, to create the world, and then in the second half... they go to the moon,” explains Michel in an interview on WePresent.
“Olivier and I were excited to work on this because we use completely opposite techniques,” the director continues, describing the process of collaborating with his brother. “I work with a primitive system of cutting paper and moving it under the lens frame by frame. Olivier then transforms it by morphing, warping and CGI.
“You have two types of people: some who say, ‘Yes, I do it, no problem,’ and they don't do it. Olivier generally says no, and then he does it anyway. It's an attitude and reliability. He doesn't stifle people. And when he decides he's going to step on the creativity, he is going to say exactly what he thinks. And in terms of creativity, he could use a computer upside down, basically.”
Olivier says of Michel: “He doesn't have much limitation with imagination. He's very good at having the image in his mind and delivering it at the end. He actually said to me that what he loves on the job is when it's as close as possible at the end to what he imagined at the start, I was surprised by that because my process is different. But I think what's most surprising with Michel is the surprises. I think that’s been the way since the very beginning. His imagination is always going somewhere else.”
The article also features an interview with Talbot, who comments on the video’s aesthetic and how it resonates with the song’s themes. “Michel’s work is handmade and it’s human and that’s something that our society pushes against: you need to be perfect,” he says. “You need to look perfect and everything needs to be seamless and strong. But actually, vulnerability and naivety are strengths. And so, to empathise with your adversaries and allow yourself to be naked on film or on record is a really strong thing to do. It liberates you and it also liberates your audience. That’s something that I hope Idles can do, and that Gondry’s been doing for years.”
The video premieres today on WePresent accompanied by the interview, which features snippets of the creative process, sketches and shots of the paper maquettes, and a making-of video showing the trio chatting via video call.
Last month, Michel Gondry directed a very different (but still brilliantly odd) ad for Burger King’s Reduced Methane Whopper, a rootin’ tootin’ singalong starring that kid who went viral yodelling in Walmart.