Interview with Vincent Morisset, director of Sigur Rós’ live film INNI
Vincent Morisset is the film director behind one of the most well respected and artistically appreciated live music documentaries of the rock scene: Arcade Fire’s Miroir Noir.
Born and raised in Canada, his approach to directing is very contemporary and creative, bringing hand-held cameras, hyper-exposed images and an intimate flair to every single shot.
His latest work, INNI, is another spectacular live music film and once again it features an independent band that has managed to become famous worldwide: Sigur Rós.
In between the two projects he has produced the interactive animation movie Bla Bla, which you can watch and play online.
We interviewed Vincent and asked him how he approached the realisation of INNI, which is to be released in the UK on 7th November.
Hi Vincent, I’m sorry that we have to start the interview as this climate of sadness pervades the tech world due to the shocking death of Steve Jobs. You have been working a lot with the iOS interface – how did you receive the news?
Cancer is a real beast. My father was a journalist. He had a Mac Plus back in the day. I did my first computer drawings with Mac Paint. I still have a purple laser print of a race car with a skull on the hood drawn with the program! Steve Jobs’ approach to technology and design was a true inspiration for my interactive projects. It’s a sad day.
Tell us about the origins of INNI. Did the band have a clear idea of what they wanted or did you give them some input?
I think we all wanted to do something really different from Heima, to present Sigur Rós in a new perspective. There was a desire to do something intimate and timeless. There were no specific indications from the band prior to the shoot. There was a sense of urgency. We didn’t know what would happen with Sigur Rós after the last shows of that tour. We all felt it was important to document the music performance.
We are a month away from the release of INNI in the UK – you must be very excited. Luckily we have already seen it in Venice (in September) and we can say it is astonishing. How did you prepare for it?
I worked with six really talented cinematographers from the documentary, fiction and art films. They were not camera operators used to live shoots. Rob Hardy, the DOP, mainly does feature films.
So, no fancy equipment, just talented people with a fresh eye on this type of content. We shot the show with light HD cameras, edited the whole film and then transferred the digital film onto 16mm.
We then projected the film on a screen and transformed the images with translucent objects and our fingers, creating caches with the fingers in front of the projector or distorting the image with a salad bowl…
You are known for the realisation of Miroir Noir, Arcade Fire’s documentary of their second album and tour Neon Bible. Is there anything in particular that you have taken from that experience in this new project?
I think both films are impressionist in a way. For me, some moments that seem insignificant at first sight are really rich in information of all sorts. Cinema can transmit things that are hard to translate in words. Also, we will never be able to recreate the original live experience, so we must embrace the medium and take advantage of it. With INNI, I tried to create a film that had one foot in reality and the other in an oneiric space. I wanted to alter reality slightly without losing the raw and intense energy of the band performing.
I agree with you; I find INNI both raw and visionary. Did shooting in black and white help prevent distractions away from the music and the show?
We wanted to create abstraction in the compositions. And also take away most of the elements of the rock show (multicoloured lights, background visuals, the crowd…) so it could be a more intimate experience.
We wanted to create something timeless. The film is not totally black and white. We prefer to describe it as pearlescent…
I admit to being a fan of Sigur Rós; I was at the concert on 21st October but I know there was also another show the day before – was I in the right one?
We used shots from both shows but we worked with the audio of the second show at Ally Pally. Don’t worry, both of them were great!
Sigur Rós are even more of a cult band than Arcade Fire; however, they managed to build a wide audience and tour 10,000-seat arenas and squares all around the world. How was it working with them? Are they as special as their music sounds?
I must admit it was a bit strange the first few times I met them. They were really hard to read. I didn’t know if they hated me or if they liked the ideas I was proposing. They are really passionate and inspiring people. For me, it’s not surprising that they build a wide audience. Their music is so beautiful and unique!
What is your favourite memory of this film production? Are you now particularly attached to a song or a scene?
The completion of the film took forever. We shot the shows three years ago. But I had the chance to work with wonderful and talented people with whom I had a lot of fun (Nick Fenton, Rob Hardy, Stéphane Lafleur, Karl Lemieux, Raoul Paulet, Olivier Groulx…).
I really love the beginning and the end of the film. The beginning of Ný Batterí is my very first experimentations with altering the projected images with my hands. Beginner’s luck I guess. I’m proud of what we did with Popplagið. I think it works.
On 3rd November the UK premiere of INNI will be at the BFI; are you considering being there?
Yes. It’s great. I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to come – I hope so!
Do you want to say something to the Sigur Rós fans who have been waiting for this interview and are now reading it?
I really hope you will like it…
Please go and see INNI [at the] cinema. I think it’s the best way to experience this film. Collectively!
The 5.1 mix is amazing. It’s really special to listen to Sigur Rós in a big room.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Watch the trailer for INNI here:
Vincent Morisset at the world premiere of INNI in Venice.