Jean-Luc Godard made films for a generation raised on Marx & Coca Cola, but it’s damn near impossible to name the innumerable icons to which to reduce ours, a generation that witnessed the quick rise and death of the MTV music videos, but is remorselessly happy to download hours of them off Mediafire. It’s obvious to say that imitation is no longer the greatest form of flattery, but amidst the wash of professional, high-budget videos that slyly pilfer other people’s content, there’s something irresistible about those that just flat out take it. Fan videos fill a much-needed gap, creating a visual world for music that often does not have one (or at least not yet).
A curious crop of video makers—loosely connected by a rippling Ven diagram of internet influences—has emerged with their sights set broadly on The French New Wave and its surrounding orbit. This is unsurprising. The tenets of the genre—the emphasis on making-do and irreverent self-consciousness, not to mention the stylistic boon of long tracking shots and jump cuts and pop culture references that lend themselves so well to music—pair effortlessly with the songs they’re set to, music that’s a little scrappy and off the radar, but that draws its own large and devoted audience. Artists like Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast (whose most recent video was directed by Drew Barrymore, of all people), even credits some of her early fan videos with helping to launch her career. Like this clip from khole71, which uses clips from the follow up to Jaques Demy’s wildly popular The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort.
Fan video makers like khole71, George Tanasie and David Dean Burkhart often quoting quintessential New Wave directors like Jean-Luc Godard and left bank New Wave affiliate, Alan Renais, and vacillate between splicing and resequencing footage to just straight up isolating a full scene, like in Tanasie’s video for Elite Gymnastics’ “Here In Heaven 2,” set to the final sequence of Godard’s Breathless (save for the very last second where Jean Seberg looks directly at the camera).
These videos are peculiar in that they’ve taken films that were deeply and self-consciously styled and scored (The Young Girls of Rochefort is a musical, after all), with music playing an integral role in each scene. Here is the audio sequence for the same film sequence above, featuring Martial Solal’s original score.