Attention ladies: French filmmaker Vincent Moon is in Australia and wants to make “various babies”.
The enfant terrible is best known for his Take Away Shows that offered unconventional glimpses into the lives of over 300 musicians including Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, The National and Sufjan Stevens. This is the man who masterminded an Arcade Fire concert in an elevator. Redefining the limits of 21st century cinema, he’s now a global nomad traveling the world to film rare musicians from Iceland to Indonesia.
Where in the world are you and what are you doing at the moment?
Am in Indonesia right now. Exactly, drinking and smoking on the beach on Gili Air, a small island near Lombok. Taking a break from my research on traditional music and cultures in Indonesia, where I spent the past two months, and made a few films about various rituals, from Toraja to Jakarta.
What drew you to film initially?
Accidents, as I only believe in them. From photography and the use of a photo camera as a way to interact with strangers, to the use of a video camera to open the possibilities of the language of the medium itself. But before that I watched all the films made between 1920 and 2000. It was a good school.
Were you professionally trained at all? How did you develop your experimental style that uses a single camera and a single take?
Just making. You learn by making. That’s my school of life. Another way to see it is – go in a school, listen to the rules, and then do something else.
What was the idea behind the Take Away Shows?
Spending some intense and intimate time with our favorites musicians. Rethinking of how we represent music in the field of cinema. Improvising. Experimenting on the accident. Not knowing what you are doing until the end.
Who was your favourite musician to hang out with?
Tom Jones, especially when he looked at my girlfriend taking her boots off and saying “sexy”. But seriously, I filmed 300 and more musicians or bands in the past six years, I guess I can select 200 of them who are fabulous people to drink with.
How do you think the internet has changed things for creative people like yourself?
Internet, at the core, is based on an anarchist idea – technology redistributing the power to every people in the society, without any central brain. Quite the exact opposite of TV. This possibility is still there even though governments and corporations try to hide it. I don’t think internet has changed things for ‘creative people’, but for the whole society. Slowly but surely things are moving, underground, and it’s good to not talk about it here.
What drew you to the road and working as a nomadic director?
Accidents … planned to live in NY with a girlfriend, but she kicked me out when I arrived – she preferred Tom Jones. Then, going from friend’s places to friend’s places with just a big backpack until you realize you feel at home everywhere. Wanted to experiment anyway this idea of making lo-fi films on the roads, without money, for a long time. And I keep getting invited here or there to show my films, so it opened me to other cultures, other sounds, other beliefs.
Why did you decide to start documenting the lives of ordinary people instead of famous musicians?
I don’t see any difference there, actually.
What are some of the most obscure and fascinating parts of the world you’ve travelled to?
Everywhere is fascinating, sorry to be so banal, but as long as you know how to look at it. Indonesia is gorgeous and filled with ideas for other forms of societies, Brazil is obviously paradise in many ways, but Colombia is probably the most fascinating and exciting place I know on this planet. I made my favourite film there, Esperando El Tsunami, waiting for the tsunami.
You’ve been living alone on the road for a few years – can you imagine ever setting up a permanent base somewhere?
People ask me this constantly. No, I don’t think about it at all, I just live today and then, tomorrow comes, right? It’s funnier that way actually. I plan to discover many other places and sounds and people and make various forms of babies.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Just now, I am getting a bit drunk and I have let the barman put some bad music from North America in the speakers, but if I was more conscious I would just kick his ass and play some kecak recordings from Bali.
Where does the name Vincent Moon come from?
From Jorge Luis Borges. Say hi to him if you find his number.
What’s next for you?
Bali to make films with gamelan and kecak, Java for some films with experimental folklores as well as new types of ritualistic music emerging from Bandung. And then, mmm, Australia and proving you there is something better than this interview: talking to me.
Vincent Moon will be speaking as part of the Sydney Festival 2012.
Sunday 22 Jan, Seymour Centre, Chippendale, NSW
Tickets $15. Book online or call 1300 668 812.