Talkin' about My Generation, with Ludovic Houplain
The animated epic is a collaboration with French musician Mirwaïs, with whom Houplain has worked before, and is a social and political road movie that comments on the world in which we currently live.
In this collaboration Houplain has created an eight-minute animated epic which takes us through a series of colourful, beautifully created but politically motivated set of vistas.
Here, Houplain explains his thought process in creating the film and why it took two years to bring it to the screen.
It obviously reminded me of Alex in A Clockwork Orange, the information flow is like torture to him. Today, it is like a drug, it is fascinating.
Why did you decide to make My Generation?
Firstly, because Mirwaïs wanted an animated music video for one of his tracks. After having worked together on Money-Time, my previous short-film, we knew that our visions of the modern world were quite similar. For this particular track he had something in mind that was rather precise: an animated video in which a vehicle is riding backwards on a motorway.
I wanted to release another animated criticism, with the Logorama state of mind, 10 years later, and Mirwaïs gave me the opportunity to do so. Things have changed a lot during the last 10 years. So, I thought it was time for me to draw an overview of this actual world, using the contemporary codes I like so much.
As for the chosen themes, they have something in common: Power. An ancestral and patriarchal power that never changes.
I’ve tried to find a way to symbolise this world. And I chose to materialise information, to personify it, to expose the public to a concentrated and continuous flow of information during eight minutes. An ultimate shot that holds the public as hostages. It obviously reminded me of Alex in A Clockwork Orange, the information flow is like torture to him. Today, it is like a drug, it is fascinating.
So, from that point, I had to build this hypnotic trip through this little, thematic 'Vegas on dopamine', where nothing is censored.
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Above: My Generation trailer.
Can you tell us a bit about the collaboration with Mirwaïs and how that worked?
In the beginning, he wanted to make a music video and he knew what he wanted. Since I hadn't released a music video for six years, and considering my previous collaboration with Mirwaïs, I found it interesting to change the work methodology. He had worked on Money-Time’s soundtrack like a traditional score. Here, I had to work the animation on an existing track. Then I built a full universe, a scenario. But things evolved, and he decided to throw his track away once all the universes were built. So, we had to adapt.
That’s why we decided that the film could have different forms, it could have a second life, a third life, and so on…
The idea was to show seven different worlds, as the seven days of the week, fully uncensored.
The first form is the short film, with a score. Its second life would be as a music video for a new track and maybe some additional elements in the universes. Lastly, the third life of this film would be more like an artistic piece, closely linked to his next album on which he acts like a curator, having an artist work on each track.
But to go back to the short film, the need was to give shape to the film and find a soundtrack that synthesised this atmosphere. So, Mirwaïs was free to do what he wanted. I mean, for this kind of project, you have to be confident in what the artist will do. For sure, I was, at first, struck when I heard Adolf Hitler's speech [which is used as a sound track over the film], but Mirwaïs clearly presents as this a metaphor of Totalitarianism. His whole work on the soundtrack was based on this synthesis, until the ending credits when you ear Bertrand Russel’s speech and can focus on it as the animation has ended.
Above: Sketches from Houplain's work on My Generation.
How did you decide which topics and themes you covered in the film ?
The idea was to show seven different worlds, as the seven days of the week, fully uncensored. So, I watched data analysis on the most popular websites. Most of the results were: Sex, money, sports, politics, big data, GAFA [Google Apple, Facebook and Amazon], religion and art. I could have added other themes, but I chose to include them along the film: the pharmacy industry in the sports universe, the weapon industry in the financial and political universes.
There is always a personal judgment in such a film, but the challenge is to find the right balance.
Then the work was to combine them all together. For instance, the sex universe obviously comes just after the religious universe. It also comes just before Donald Trump, considering his opinion on women's part in our society. I wanted to create this kind of interactions between the different universes.
As for the chosen themes, they have something in common: Power. An ancestral and patriarchal power that never changes. Thus it leads us to the metaphorical conclusion of the film; this girl that lights-up the fire.
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Above: Houplain's film. Logorama, from 2009.
Was it hard to refrain from including any personal judgement on any of the topics covered?
There is always a personal judgment in such a film, but the challenge is to find the right balance. If I gave Donald Trump a central part, it is because he’s a catalyst.
Everything I show about him is real (absurd tweets, anti-immigration wall, Russian influence…).
I want to say that the old world needs a change, and in my mind, women are the key to this change.
Then, people may think that it’s hard to talk about religion, but it’s not. Unfortunately, every religion has its extremists and excesses. So, this universe was rather easy to set, I only had to look at the news.
Above: Stills from My Generation.
What message do you hope people take from the film ?
The conclusion of the film is more of a message of hope, supported by Bertrand Russell's speech. As a matter of fact, after we've taken this old world down, he says in his speech that only love and unity can help us to find the solution.
This really makes sense, as I want to say that the old world needs a change, and in my mind, women are the key to this change.
How long did it take to create and what was the biggest challenge ?
The production was quite long, it lasted two years, with some stand-by periods, since it was produced by H5 and Mirwaïs with no other funding. Thanks to this we were free to use the tone we wanted.
We worked on the lighting, to avoid monotony, we updated some content according to the news: Trump's tweets, the Paradise papers, gold stocks…
Then, Mirwaïs wanted to create a totally different track, so he threw away the first one and for nine months everything stopped. During this time I fine-tuned every universe with the post-production studio, Machine Molle. We worked on the lighting, to avoid monotony, we updated some content according to the news: Trump's tweets, the Paradise papers, gold stocks…
But the hardest part was to create every universe. To create a realistic topography considering the different scales and the components, some of them being material and some others immaterial.