INTERVIEW

Laurent Brett title sequence director

“I like to draw my inspiration from still things. It’s weird, isn’t it? Images have to be looked at alone; the animation is a second step to me.”

Hostage, 2005
The Artist, 2011
OSS 117: Le Caire, nid d'espions, 2006

What is a title sequence to you?

It is the introduction to a film. It is not mandatory, but it can bring a lot.
It allows the viewer to enter a universe, to relax or on the contrary to tighten, to plunge into another time in two minutes...
It is also a way for the director to solve problems. I mean to create a sequence afterwards that solves a narrative problem after a change in the editing. Yes, it happens!

How did you end up creating title sequences?

A little bit by chance, because Florent Siri, with whom I had been working on music videos for several years, took me on board in his adventure with “Nid de Guêpes” and then with “Hostage”. In-­‐between, I worked on the title sequence to “La Beuze” with Specimens. And honestly after “Hostage”, I decided to put a lot of myself into this medium.

Why are you still making title sequences?

Because I love it above all!! You get a special contact with directors, you get to be part of a film. It gives you a very rewarding relationship with images, without real constraints (in general, except for budget!!!)

What is your relationship with the director and/ or the production?

Very pleasant and creative. Directors come in two groups: those who have a precise idea of what they want, and those who totally let you express yourself. But in both cases, you make a sequence that has to belong to the film. It means that at some point, the director must make it his own. And it is natural; it is a part of his film. In France, producers follow directors. It is not like in the US.

Can you be more specific about this difference between France and the US? What is it about exactly?

Directors are less involved in postproduction over there. Their task often ends after the shooting. Producers control everything and have the final cut, so they are the real decision-­‐makers. In France, the director is involved in the editing, the sound mixing, he talks to the music composer, and looks at my rough versions. I only see producers at the screenings.

What is the influence of the budget on the quality and creativity of your title sequences?

It is essential. Without resources, you can’t follow through your work in good conditions.

Have you ever had to make concessions because of a low budget?

Yes, but from the beginning, at the point where you have to control your brain because you know the envelope is thin (generally I know it from the first meeting). So I try not to be extravagant if I know I can’t afford it.

Do you work alone or in teams? How does it go?

Both!!! I can make films alone at home. When I work on titles that require skills I don’t have, or when I’m running out of time to do it alone, I go to Sabotage Studio who hosts me to do my various shooting or 3D jobs.
When I design a title sequence where I need to shoot things (“Il reste du jambon?”), I need five or six people to back me up. But on “OSS 117” or “Légitime Défense”, I work alone.

What is the relationship between music and your work on title sequences?

Very important, but you depend on the director’s choice and on the work in progress that is done in the music composition at the time you work on the sequence. Sometimes, you get a synthesizer rough version and it will be orchestrated later, sometimes the music changes along the way!!!

How do you manage to give rhythm to your titles in that case? What do you go by?

You always get a rough version or a song chosen by the director, so you stick to that; even if one hundred musicians replay a tune played on a synthesizer, it’s still the same tune with the same speed. My funniest anecdote is in “Les chevaliers du ciel”. We edited the title sequence on a song by Ginzhu, so it was pretty rocky, and eventually Gérard Pirès decided to use some piano. Well it still works!!! You see!!

When, in the film fabrication process, are you brought in? How much time do you get for your creation?

Too often at the last minute, during the editing. But time after time, I’ve started making connections with the directors who allow me to be involved in the reflection during the scriptwriting.

What are your influences?

Print design... I like to draw my inspiration from still things. It’s weird, isn’t it? Images have to be looked at alone; the animation is a second step to me.
I find more inspiration looking at disc sleeves or posters in the street than on Vimeo! It troubles my brain to see other people’s work and it often depresses me; I am pretty harsh on my work... Some say I’m never happy!

Do you believe title sequence should be considered a work of art in its own right? Do you think there should be an Academy award to reward film title designers?

Eventually yes, just to let us exist as art creators, recognized in the film industry. For many producers, our job is more a technical performance than a piece of art.
But our work is bound to the film and the director. We don’t work on a two-­‐minute order to be delivered with carte blanche. Without a joint work with them, the title sequences would not be the same.
My own personal version of “OSS 117” would not be the official one if I was listening to myself; you work for someone, to make your job fit into someone else’s piece of art.
It’s cool to watch title sequences one after the other, but we shouldn’t forget they have a goal, a meaning, and they are supposed to fulfill a mission, as trivial as it might be!!

Top 10

It’s difficult...
The classiest: Man with golden arm/ To kill a mockinbird
The funniest: Monster Inc. / Dr. Goldfoot and the bikin machine The most UFO: Enter the void
The most groundbreaking: Seven
The most moving: Gattaca
The most musical: West Side Story
The most better than the film: The Hulk and Napoleon Dynamite The most worse than the film: honestly, I don’t know...
The most bungled: a recent French movie with three names... The very best: Dr. No / Lemony snicket's unfortunate events

(2002)

La beuze (2003)

(2009)

(2011)

(2011)

Il reste du jambon (2010)

Les aventures de Philibert, capitaine puceau (2011)

Le premier jour du reste de ta vie (2008)

Une folle envie (2011)

Toi, moi, les autres (2010)

Potiche (2010)

L'Age de Raison (2010)

(2011)

Low Cost (2011)