Godzilla: King of The Buzz

Godzilla poster

Like the catchphrase says, “haters gonna hate”, but the King of monsters couldn’t care less. Gareth Edwards’ reboot of one the most popular franchises in the history of Japanese sci-fi films has already destroyed the box office using its signature atomic breath (and some brand new marketing tools). As for fans and detractors, they are busy comparing Godzilla and Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim in endless flame wars, and keep on arguing about which is the best fight among those involving kaiju.

Watch out! Landmine of SPOILERS ahead.

To be frank, I think that the film faces several problems related to the script. Some are listed here, others specifically involve the space characters are given on screen (see Brian Cranston/Joe Brody’s early depart) or how ineffectively the actors play their roles (I guess Ken Watanabe/Serizawa’s dazzled gaze will be remembered for years). Despite this, Godzilla maintains its promise: absolutely credible CGI monsters that suck radiations and wrestle as if there were no tomorrow.

The flaws have not stopped the buzz around the film, they might actually have fuelled it further. The promotional campaign has indeed been designed to share all things Godzilla, and just when everything seemed to be cleared and uncovered, tireless fans have started to hunt for more hidden details. All eyes are currently on the redacted opening credits, but the buzz has cleverly been fed over the past few years. It reached a peak with the viral marketing campaign, when mysterious short videos carefully spread online were gathered on the M.U.T.O. Research project.

Images previously released to start the buzz from China  to Latin America then assumed a whole new meaning, teasing activities of the Company M.U.T.O.

The campaign also exploited the launch of the Godzilla Encounter website, which in a first phase provided some teasing news about anomalous activities taking place in the ocean, and then worked as a place where fans could show some love for their beloved “gorilla whale”. Images also played with real events in a timeline linked to Godzilla’s sightings, such as the following:

Nuclear bomb from Godzillaencounter.com

Content related to the film was then designed to be spread online at all levels: gamers could easily share their experience playing Godzilla-related games, such as Strike Zone, Crisis Defence, or Smash 3; the monster’s voice was sampled on Soundcloud; fans could customize their own posters or perform the infamous “roar”. Let’s not forget remixes (here is Mike Relm’s version), and cross-promotional campaigns (I guess you’re at least familiar with this spot for the Fiat 500L). Major late-night talk shows also played with their audience by pretending that Godzilla really existed – with these exhilarating answers:

On a less playful level, Edwards’ film is more mindful of Fukushima’s recent nuclear disaster than of WW2’s atomic bombings, to which the awakening of the monster was traditionally linked. Yet this Godzilla has managed to pay homage to the origins of the iconic creature by incorporating footage depicting nuclear tests, which, we are told, were covered attempts to kill it.

In so doing, recent history is re-written under the light of an external player (the monster) that shaped the destiny of mankind, removing the moral consequences of using weapons of mass destruction from the hands of human beings (we are allowed to nuke it because it is a monster).

Nuclear bomb, Godzilla

This is a choice of storytelling that Godzilla shares with another hot blockbuster of this cinematographic season. I’ll discuss it in more detail in a dedicated post on X-Men: Days Of Future Past, so stay tuned.


The Art of Immersion: Director Claude Mossessian on Filming Artists and Interactive Installations (Part. 2)

Miguel Chevalier, "Tapis Magiques", shot by Claude Mossessian.

After discussing how Claude Mossessian started his career, in this second instalment of the interview with the filmmaker Prominent Monkey focuses on his work with French digital artist Miguel Chevalier.

Prominent Monkey: I find your long-lasting collaboration with Miguel Chevalier particularly interesting. How did you start to work with him?

Claude Mossessian: I met him three years ago at the Galerie Baudoin Lebon. He had been invited by a friend of his and one of his works was on display. I interviewed him and shot some images for a film on the exhibition. Last April, I met him again at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Céret and I asked him: “Miguel, are you interested in a film about your work, a portrait?”. He replied with enthusiasm: “Yes, of course!”. Then we started to shoot at Cité de Carcassonne. After that first film he asked me to make several shorts for promotional purposes. Our idea is to film every exhibition for one year, which will form a portrait at the end.

P. M. As a filmmaker who distributes his own content online, do you think that the Internet is providing a sustainable source of income for established professionals and emerging talents? Or do only traditional business models (e.g. commissioned or sponsored films) really work in your opinion?

C. M. My films are paid for by sponsors (museums, galleries or artists) as promotional tools. As far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t work within the limits of traditional film or TV business models and I’m not even interested in those solutions, which I consider too slow. I’m used to working alone, taking care of every aspect of the production, post-production and distribution: proposals, shooting, editing, publishing etc. I don’t want to be slowed down by a TV process. It takes too long and it’s to complicated for me. I like to be efficient, flexible, on demand for special events and collaborations with great artists. They absolutely need to have an archive and filming them is the perfect way to document their work.

So, I try to make money with my works. It’s hard, but I prefer to live this way rather than in my previous salaried employment. It’s more exciting and fascinating. I’ve decided to be brave and live with passion. When you decide to do something with passion every day, I don’t know why but a sort of magic way presents itself in front of you, and then you meet somebody who is going to be important for your work, and so on… Just like what happened with Miguel: I’m totally free, he absolutely trusts me.

Miguel Chevalier, "Table enghein", shot by Claude Mossessian.

P. M. Is this a freedom that you also enjoy while documenting the work of other artists? What does it mean, to you, to be an “independent” filmmaker?

C. M. Three words: to be free. To decide with pure instinct what you want to do and film. Artists are alive! And I want to be a witness, to trace their creative energy. I’m not interested in other subjects.

Want to know more about Mossessian’s works? Discover here how he approached art and filmmaking and browse his website and his Vimeo channel.


(Images © 2014 Miguel Chevalier, videos © 2014 Claude Mossessian. Courtesy of the authors).

The Art of Immersion: Director Claude Mossessian on Filming Artists and Interactive Installations (Part. 1)

Claude Mossessian, Pile Pont Court

You might have heard about his work first after The Huffington Post spread the word about one of his latest collaboration with French digital artist Miguel Chevalier, but Claude Mossessian has had a camera in his mind from a tender age. Young Claude, who is now 49 and lives in Sorède, in southern France, was raised surrounded by moving images. The camera was a familiar presence because his father regularly filmed him with his 8mm and Super 8. At age 11 he wanted to be a TV cameraman.

For a while life chose a different path for him. After an A Level from a computer school he started a career in an international computer company. Then, six years ago, he decided to go back to his early passion and founded his own film production company. As a filmmaker, Mossessian firmly believes that it is possible to tell a beautiful visual story about art with an emotional approach, avoiding the didactic tone that is specific to art programs on television.

Prominent Monkey reached out to him to get more insights about his way of filming art exhibitions and interactive installations.


Prominent Monkey: Given your background, the combination of filmmaking and digital media seems quite natural. What is your approach when you’re asked to document a piece of architecture or a painting?

Claude Mossessian: I usually define my way of working with four words. Immerse yourself without any camera, be quiet and feel the things around you. Capture your surroundings with your feelings, choose (frame) the best way to place your camera, trying, in the real world, to see the frame you see when you close your eyes. A mental image is more interesting that reality, so try to merge both. Discern the essential part of your work, try to understand what you see and feel, then choose only the images you keep with your senses. Finally, convey an experience, a film with a touch of emotion, to people.

P. M. Almost every filmmaker has a turning point in their career. Tell me something more about yours.

C. M. I was 25 years old. I was staying at Le Couvent Sainte-Marie de la Tourette – which was built by Le Corbusier – for 7 days, with an architect, a friend of mine. He had seen my short films and said: “Ok Claude, we are going to a secret place for one week and you will do something with your camera…” That place will never leave me. The film I shot back then was Ce corps imaginaire.I tried to translate an architectural dimension onto film. I tried to transfer my feelings for this architectural object into frame, sounds, music, natural light and words. An imaginary body made with a sensitive approach…

This film became very popular among architects and film festival audiences. One of the Directors of the Centre National des Arts Plastiques was very impressed and she asked me what my next film was. I said “I would like to understand what it means to film a painter, transferring the dimension of a painting into a film. I know Jean Pierre Pincemin…” She said: “Ok, I will commission this film”. This is how it started.

End of part 1. Part 2 will be published on 22 May.

Want to know more about Mossessian’s works? Browse his website and Vimeo channel.


(Images © 2014 Miguel Chevalier, videos © 2014 Claude Mossessian. Courtesy of the authors).