Take a song about a journey add dark contrasted imagery illustrating man’s continual destruction of the earth and you have Julien Lassort’s video for ‘The Road’. Watching the video you become immersed in Lassort’s black and white comic book universe of skulls, space and naked women. It is the director’s distinct hypnotic style that drew us in so we had a chat to Julien Lassort about how surrealism, dreams and synesthesia influence his work.
Word Is Cheap: What was the inspiration behind the aesthetic of the video?
Julien Lassort: I wanted to do a full animation film in black and white that would have a strong and identifiable aesthetic.
I had something very clean and uncluttered in mind, with the least graphic details as possible. I wanted to use a drawing line that would be immediately recognizable, that the form would make sense straight away for the viewer. With this idea in mind, I started gathering some references up from many and varied sources. From a simple drawing found in a comic book to something I saw in the tube, or from a graffiti on a wall, or just from things I saw on the internet, everything becomes a source of inspiration to feed my work. Also I really like press drawing artist, Barbe’s work and most of all his Cinema boards serie (see below). I think it was the starting point for my inspiration in terms of graphic style. To this some other references were added, such as the more contemporary work from Mrzyk & Moriceau, Hoogerbrugge and from my pal Nairone. But most of all the idea was to make a bridge with ALB’s graphic universe that was developed by the drawing artist Marine Philomen Roux.
WIC: Your videos are all quite hypnotic and surreal in style, why do you think that appeals to you?
JL: I am a big fan of Luis Buñuel’s surrealist movies as well as Jean Cocteau’s universe and Dali’s screenplays.
Also, I think I am not very good at telling stories that actually holds water, it usually goes in all directions. My ideas come tumbling out, so I gather them together in a drawing, a film, an art installation… something that can be seen as conceptual. But I also think that it is because I remember my dreams very clearly and that they are a source of inspiration for my projects.
WIC: You often directly represent sound in a visual way, is that how you interpret music? Do you see sound?
JL: Yes it’s true, when I study a track for the first time, forms and colors come to my mind as a first impression. I don’t really know why, I must be part of these people who have synesthesia.
I think that my idea for the video I did for Metronomy’s track “On The Motorway” is the more expressive. I translated exactly what I saw in my mind while listening to the music. I like to find conceptual tricks in order to bring people to “see” the music. It is awesome to take the challenge to find images that completely identify a note, a sound. I often take this as an enigma that needs to be solved and it’s fascinating!
WIC: This is your first film that is fully animated, what made you decide to go with CG?
JL: This is a funny story, I bumped into a high school friend in the metro, whose name is Lois de Cornulier and who is now a talented illustrator and motion designer whom I really like the graphic approach. This is when I came up with the idea of making an animation film with him as the artistic director. The studio he works in, Elm0 studio, offered us their team to work on this project, and along with my producer, Nicolas Tiry, we managed to make this film. This experience was very rewarding and so different from directing a film in live action.
WIC: The video focuses on death, destruction and nature. The promo ends in space was this intended to be a prophecy or just a loose set of imagery in a random order?
JL: I wanted to be as close as possible from the track’s lyrics, and the idea was to tell the story of human’s time on earth and their consequences on nature and this with the metaphor of the road. For me the path is already marked out; there are all these symbols of life, all on a path that keeps going forward until a certain and common ending (i.e death). Going to space was just the continuity of the path, I let you decide if it speaks of life or death! Have a nice trip on the road and see you later!