Breaking into the Playground: Auteurs of the MV Generation
The MV Generation hit a high note as a new creative power in the Hollywood dream factory. This breed of music video directors emerged in the '80s and '90s, and eventually moved into the world of feature filmmaking. A sensation in pop culture, videos augment the dynamics of songs to create electrifying audio-visual experiences that gained huge popularity during the '80s. From Michael Jackson's Thriller , a-ha's Take On Me to Madonna's Vogue, these music promos are turned into new culture force with their groundbreaking concepts and galvanising vibe.
The creative experimentation that MV allows, provides a fertile ground for a new generation of young directors, whose artistic expressions flourish to a far greater degree. Graduating from the 'other film school,' these adroit talents show their distinctive cinematic styles that are largely different from that of traditional filmmaking. Coming from the fast food generation, they excel in fusing sound and visual to create stylised works in mass quantity. Constructing their worldview ingrained in pop culture, they form an idiosyncratic MV aesthetics, opening up new frontiers of storytelling with visual flair and creative vigor.
Moving on to the big screen, these helmers bring in their reflections on feature filmmaking. With a gaming mindset, while engaging in pop culture with a serious attitude, they venture into new forms of narrative and unleash a surge of wildly imaginative and fascinating ideas. Formerly a visual effect assistant at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), David Fincher co-founded Propaganda Films, enlisting Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry to direct MVs. Together with Paul Thomas Anderson who emerged from independent cinema, these mavericks usher in a tremendous impact on Hollywood with their strong, distinctive flair.
Playwright Charlie Kaufman came in perfect timing to provide the most important ingredient into the mix. His visual imagination and oddball sensibility make him an ideal match for Jonze (on Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. ) and Gondry (on Human Nature and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ). On the other hand, Fincher's darkly alluring visuals perfectly complement his adaptation in Fight Club and Zodiac . And from his debut Boogie Nights , Paul Thomas Anderson started his exploration on narrative structure, achieving his grand slam of best director in Cannes, Venice and the Berlinale.
'I thought maybe you were a nut. But you were exciting.' This line from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind exemplifies the works of these four MV auteurs: by subverting Hollywood's conventional form of storytelling, they left their footprints in the history of cinema. Only when the four walls are torn down, we can see new possibilities arise.