Michel Gondry is best known for his music videos for artists such as Bjork and Daft Punk. However, after his award-winning feature film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay) he has become a household name in the art-house film industry. In 2008, Gondry launched the interactive l’Usine de Films Amateurs (the Home Movie Factory). The creative project has traveled the world, and will grace Montreal during its 375th anniversary celebrations. Presented by Chromatic, at a former textile factory, the location is the perfect place to house over a dozen small film sets.
Participants are placed in groups to experience the creative process through teamwork and brainstorming. In three hours, each team will create a short film. As Gondry explained at a casual style press conference and orientation on August 30th, 2017, the objective is not to produce a pro-level film. The Factory favors rough-around-the-edges amateur collaborations over professional filmmaking. The idea behind this is that people become more productive when they can appreciate the value of what they’re doing. Hands-on experience is a self-motivator, and participants have the sweet satisfaction of having made something from A to Z. There is no postproduction, no editing, no mixing. Everything must be shot in sequence, without multiple takes. If ‘mistakes’ occur, so be it! These little idiosyncrasies make the end product so fun to watch.
The concept came to Gondry by observing how his young son made horror movies with his friends. In the context of his Factory, he says the word cameraperson should be used instead of director. The project aims to be the opposite of professional film fabrication, where the director tells everyone else how to work. This canonizes the role of one person, and here, the objective is to give everyone an equal chance to share duties. Choosing the genre, the title, the mise-en-scene, etc. is a collaborative effort, aided by mediators appointed by the Factory. Gondry hopes the process will permit everyone to be the inventor of his or her entertainment rather than its consumer.
Costumes, props and sets help spark ideas that may not have otherwise arisen. The function of the sets is to hint what they want participants to do with them. For example, there are minisets used for creating miniaturized car sequences. The manual crank and colorful toy vehicles would especially stimulate the younger folks. If a scenario didn’t originally call for a car chase, the miniset might inspire one. As the background screen depicts scrolling images of local streets, tourists partaking in the city’s celebratory events might find it interesting to be able to make a ‘souvenir’ location movie. This background footage is shot in the city of each Factory, to lend local flavor.
Although the public will likely want to make movies, they are also welcome to simply view the works of others. The past groups’ movies are available to watch in the quaint screening room. All creators can make a cover leaflet, and take home their chef-d’oeuvre on DVD.
L’Usine de Films Amateurs
Complexe Dompark, Salle Wave (5524 St. Patrick)
September 1st through October 15th, 2017
Age 7 and up
Participation is FREE but requires registration: