Video Chats: Michel Gondry on "Love Letters" by Metronomy

Posted by Doug Klinger on February 12, 2014 in Interviews

Staff Post

Michel Gondry

After a three year hiatus, Michel Gondry entered back into the music video world yesterday with “Love Letters” by Metronomy. The single-shot video features several hand-painted set pieces surrounding the band as they perform the track. As the camera moves around them, it reveals additional layers to each scene though windows and openings in the hexagonal set. The video’s charming, handmade vibe feels like classic Gondry, and it shares many stylistic elements from his other work, including his most recent film, Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?. We talked to Michel about what motivated him to direct the video, the inspiration for the illustrations, and whether or not we can expect more Gondry videos in the future.

Doug: You haven't directed a music video for several years now, was there something about Metronomy and the "Love Letters" song that brought you out of retirement?

Michel: My friend and composer Etienne Charry, my band Oui-oui's composer told me they were great and he is the most picky man I know. Etienne even drew all the illustrations for the video.

Doug: What is the process of bringing an idea like this to life? Do you typically do any test shooting or previsualization? Or do you see how everything is going to be executed in your head and just go for it?

Michel: For this video I built a simple model of the set to test the idea and I showed it to Joseph [Mount, founder of Metronomy]. I went to visit him in his Paris apartment and, he had a poster on his wall that was exactly in the spirit of the drawing that I needed for the video. So that made my job easy.

Michel Gondry

Doug: The set pieces in this video have a very handmade feel to them. What is the process of determining what hands are going to be the ones to paint and design those pieces?

Michel: As I was saying my friend Etienne Charry did all the illustrations based on rough sketches I did, then my art director, Stephane Rozenbaum hired seven craft painters that reproduced them in big.

Doug: Your most recent film, Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?, is a hand-drawn animated documentary on Noam Chomsky. You have a history of using handmade/drawn props and set pieces in your work, but would you say there is a stylistic connection between Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? and "Love Letters"?

Michel: Yes. It's how I started. I was in an art school (again, with Etienne!) and I bought a 16mm camera. I used it to try all sorts of animation. It's how I became a director.

Doug: Metronomy are all dressed in the same outfit that includes a stylish black turtleneck and burgundy blazer. Where did the outfit design come from - you, the band, or stylists Liate Cohen and Florence Fontaine?

Michel: They came up with their full outfit. I was glad they were unified. It made sense with the concept.

Doug: Do you plan to fall back into music video retirement, or can we expect to see some more music video work from you in the near future?

Michel: No video retirment, just more holidays in between...

If you want to know more about the "Love Letters" video, Michel Gondry and Metronomy's Joe Mount will be taking questions today on a Google Hangout hosted by Adam Buxton. The hangout will take place here at 5pm GMT.

love letters, metronomy, michel gondry, video chats

Doug Klinger is the co-founder/content director of IMVDb and watches more music videos than anyone on earth. You can find him on twitter at @doug_klinger.

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