Michel Gondry Announces Amateur Film Factory To Have a Permanent Home in the Suburbs of Paris

This week in Aubervilliers, Paris, Michel Gondry held a press conference to announce his intention to build a permanent home for his touring Amateur Film Factory.

Michel Gondry‘s 2008 comedy feature Be Kind, Rewind wherein two hapless video store clerks (played by Jack Black and Mos Def) are forced to re-shoot every film in their store, has started a new type of low-fi film genre – ‘Sweding’, which has been making its mark online. In a case of art imitating art, the idea is to recreate film scenes with zero budgets, no wardrobe or sets and whatever is lying around used as props; a kind of parody if you will. Do a quick search for ‘sweded’ on youtube and you’ll soon get an idea of its popularity.

Gondry’s passion and enthusiasm for ‘sweding’ aka the Be Kind, Rewind protocol has seen the successful director write books on the subject (You’ll Like This Film Because You’re In It), giving out cameras to young filmmakers and teaching filmmakers the world over how to ‘swede’ with his Amateur Film Factory. In 2012, the Rotterdam Film Festival held the factory as an official part of the festival and factories have also taken place in New York, Rio and Sao Paolo. Gondry’s inspiration for creating the factory came from his youth in the ‘burbs of Paris:

“This film and this project are actually the result of one same thought of mine: I have always felt guilty in a way, being in a creative profession. I often say to myself: “This workman could maybe have been a better producer than I am if only he’d been able to access this kind of profession.” Creativity isn’t shared enough. When I was living in the 13th arrondissement in Paris, there used to be these little cinemas, but then they disappeared. It has always been a secret plan of mine to recreate one of these rooms by setting up a communal area where everyone could come and film what they wanted and then show it. I got the opportunity to make this utopia of an independent system happen within a fictional dimension with ‘Be Kind Rewind’. Then I wanted to do it for real. The protocol to be followed is designed to favour creativity and the system guarantees that each of the participants has their own role in the activity. It’s a kind of ‘visual socialism’, if you will. The system prevents egos from taking over and guarantees equality between participants” (quote from Go Go Paris).

Theo Alexander’s description of a factory session makes participation available for the absolute novice (wanting a fun day out) to film professionals (looking for a fresh perspective):

“The whole thing involves a range of different sets and equipment to make use of, as individual groups get together and share their ideas in putting together a film each – also with control of every single aspect of the film, including the writing, acting and filming. All of this, combined with the fact that the inspired Frenchman will be supervising and guiding everything….[it’s about] creating an atmosphere in which the participants can feel open and free to be as mad and idealistic as they wish, without any constraints. Instead of providing a formula which needs to be followed”

 

At the recent press conference Gondry announced he had signed an agreement with Aubervilliers’ mayor, Jacques Salvator to renovate a 1500 square meter factory; which will be filled with different location styled sets and stages. Work on the renovations will begin in September 2015 and is scheduled to open in May 2016, with the factory being free to attend for all.

 

Gondry’s vision sees the permanent factory as “not a film school” but more like “an amusement park, where people will come to make movies and see their creativity emerge….to show that creativity exists everywhere. I’d prefer to see the local baristas’ iconic films rather than film students productions” (quote from Konbini).

 

Watch Michel Gondry’s ‘sweded’ trailer for Be Kind, Rewind below.

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