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Michel Gondry Says He Had Little Artistic Freedom On ‘The Green Hornet,’ Provides Update On ‘Ubik’

Michel Gondry Says He Had Little Artistic Freedom On 'The Green Hornet,' Provides Update On 'Ubik'

One of cinema’s premiere dreamers, Michel Gondry is also a fascinating conversationalist, and at the recent Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (which screened his latest “Mood Indigo“), he participated in a master class, exposing the labyrinthine twists of his brain to a receptive audience. And over the course of the next 50 minutes, he talked about almost every subject under the sun, including the already much discussed troubled production on “The Green Hornet” (an experience star Seth Rogen recently called “a fucking nightmare“).

Gondry makes it pretty clear that he was badly burned by the Hollywood project, and backs up Rogen’s assertions that the amount of money being thrown around left them creatively limited. “Too much money is dangerous. On a movie it depends on the budget. I did ‘The Green Hornet’ and I don’t think I had much artistic freedom. Obviously it was a huge budget, so you feel the pressure of the studio where they have this huge investment. And sometimes you feel it’s too bad because sometimes you think you could do the same thing for half or a third of the money,” Gondry said.

This is the kind of obvious statement that will have many Gondry fans wondering why this didn’t occur to the maestro before he decided to make a $120 million movie, given that so much of his brilliant work in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and the like came from the trickery and enchantment necessitated by small budgets, something he hilariously made into an actual theme in “Be Kind Rewind.” Well, he did make an attempt to try and bring his usual aesthetic into the mix, but was shut down.

“I remember on “The Green Hornet’ I wanted to action scenes with models to make it less expensive, but [the studio] would not let me because they thought it would be too quirky,” he explained. “And so far  [in my experience in] independent film, you have more freedom. The lower budget you have, the more freedom, basically. And that’s the problem about who you put in your movie, they may have a complicated schedule, so you have to organize the shooting around them and you make so much concessions because you have to shoot out of order or travel or many things that have nothing to do with the interests of the film, but it’s how it works. There are many exterior elements that limit your freedom.”

But Gondry at least seems to now be headed back to pastures more affordable and quirky: an animated collaboration with Noam Chomsky, “Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?” (trailer here), is completed, while he continues to putter along with his Philip K. Dick adaptation “Ubik.” 
“We are still at the very beginning,” he said. “It’s an amazing story. It’s a very complicated story from a very prominent book so I am taking it slow.” 

In the meantime, Gondry’s “Mood Indigo” with Audrey Tautou, Romain Duris and Gad Elmaleh, is still without a U.S. distributor or date, but hopefully that will change soon (you can read our review of the film from the Karlovy Vary Film Festival here). Watch the full master class below.

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