Classic ÉCU Film Festival | 2015
Stop All Jerk
Written and directed by Armel Gourvennec depicts an aesthetic inspired by the 50s: a boxer, film actors, and a child learning the guitar, as many sequences where the same speech is played and replayed at levels different. Super light contrasting black and white, film frames perfectly accompany the music of Bikini Machine group.
Hey Armel thanks for talking to TNC, how have things been going?
Pretty well. I’m on different projects and finishing a script of what could be my first feature film. So it is, I think, a creative moment for me. Hope it’s going to last a while.
How does it feel to be part of the ECU Film Festival 2015?
I’m of course very excited and also pleased to be part of it. Especially because it is not only a music video festival. It is good to be surrounded by all these directors and movies : short film, comedies, dramas, student movies, non-european movies, animated movies, documentaries, … Well it is a tremendous list, right?
Are any nerves setting in ahead of your screening?
Not at all. When you have written and filmed something, you have already spent so much time in front of your movie, doubting, thinking, fearing, having fun also, that the pleasure and the purpose is the screening in front of a real audience. Which is besides for a music video especially rare.
What's the most exciting part of being able to share your film with festival audiences?
To feel the audience and, hopefully, meet them, talk with some of them after it. Whatever they like it or not.
"Have self confidence, but never forget to doubt a lot."
What has been the biggest challenges you've faced putting your film together?
For Stop All Jerk it is very special. Because I wrote a story with four scenes, very different from eachother. So it was like four workshops, four challenges, four exercises in style. The boxing scene, the studio shooting scene, the scene with the father and the son, and the music band audition. I was focused on trying to achieve the art direction, the photography, the actors casting and direction for each set. And to be as close as possible to the references from the 50’s I had in mind…Globally, this music video required a lot of different skills and I had to gather a crew which could be able to do it in a sensitive way. DOP, Art director, casting director, costume designer, hair stylist, everyone played his part…
Each detail of the movie is a collective work. That is what was the most exciting thing for me. To bring everybody in prep and on set back to the fifties and the sixties, back to the roots, back to our idols…
Tell me a little bit about Stop All Jerk, how did the music video come about?
I’ve been listening to the song again and again a whole day. I like very very much the band and this song. But I knew the label records asked also others directors to propose ideas and I had three days to write something. Without any requests or directions from them. Total freedom. Which is great. So I told myself "Do something very personal, that sticks of course to the song, but personal. So you won’t have any regrets if they refuse your script." The last day, I still didn’t have any idea. Really. Nothing. A nightmare. And suddenly, this circular story came to my mind. The whole thing in one block. It was like discovering by surprise a landscape in front of you after a curve on a road. Clean and clear.
What was the hardest scene for you to film?
I don’t like to suffer on set, I just try to remind me each second the luck I have to do this job. And I have a lot of fun and laugh with the crew and the actors. Pleasure is the word. That is the less that you can do as director of a music video for which the whole crew is giving time and skills just for you, without earning any money. With a very low budget, I had to run after time and cheat of course everything: spaces, frames, lights, props, sets switching, and so on…
But if I had to answer properly to your question, I’d say that the scene with the son playing guitar in front of his father was perhaps more delicate. Because the scene was delicate and hard by itself, but also because our young actor was 9 years old and it was his first shooting. I tried to be very kind and patient (even if on a music video you don’t have any time, we had 2 days to shoot everything and without any extra hour…).
And, as usual I guess with kids on set, you try also to steal things, shots, moments that they are not really aware of…
Is there anything you'd have done differently?
I don’t think so. And it is not a pretentious answer. When I read the script again after the editing, I was amazed that everything that I wrote was on the screen. We really sticked to my script, down to the last comma. Of course a lot of things have been reshaped by the actors and the work of the crew, but I felt lucky to have worked with a label, a band, a crew and above all my producers mad enough to think.
Well, yeah, it looks very complicated, we don’t have enough budget, but let’s go for it. So the way I’m seeing things is "Look what you’ve shot and be thankful and happy with it!"
Have you always been interested in making music videos?
Yes, because as far as I am concerned, it is the perfect mix of two opposite sides : freedom of creativity and in the same time being able to answer to an order from the music band and label, respecting their art, their music, their work, not disappointing them.
What has been the most valuable lesson you've learned so far?
Have self confidence, but never forget to doubt a lot. I don’t know if it is a proper answer to your question. I doubt it… Oh no, I’m sure!
Who have been your biggest inspirations?
It is a very hard question. You mean generally? Or for this music video? Anyway, for this one, I had Joseph Losey, Robert Wise, John Huston, Max Ophüls, Jacques Tourneur and Jules Dassin in mind. Good company, isn’t it? And scary as well…But indispensable when you shoot a period movie…
Do you have a favourite film?
Hard again…But what comes to my mind right now would be two movies, a recent one and an old one: A Most Violent Year by J.C. Chandor and Ten by Blake Edwards. You see, two very different films and artists, but so inspiring for movie direction and for… life.
And finally what do you hope people will take away from your new film?
Fun, some vibrations, visions of the past, and hopefully remembrance of moments in which your father, your coach, your director, your manager told you you were just a loser, a jerk, nothing. But nobody is. Never.