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Lo-fi filmmaker takes stars to street level

  • Story Highlights
  • Vincent Moon is a Parisian director and creator of "The Take Away Shows"
  • The shows feature famous artists performing in improvised settings
  • Artists to appear have included Arcade Fire, The Kooks and The Shins
  • Vincent directed the forthcoming R.E.M. music video and film
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By Mark Thompson for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The distinctive tall frame of Arcade Fire singer Win Butler scrapes against the elevator lights as seven bandmates, their instruments, a sound engineer and a cameraman stand cramped below his eyeline.


Indie songsmith Sufjan Stevens plays a Take Away Show on a Paris rooftop.

His wife and fellow singer Régine Chassagne starts beating the elevator's metal roof with the palm of her hand and a performance of the band's song "Neon Bible" begins.

This is just one of more than 80 improvised music videos which make up "The Take Away Shows" -- a new project by Parisian filmmaker Vincent Moon which aims to capture bands performing live at ad-hoc venues, usually on or around the streets of Paris.

"What I really wanted to be was a photographer, but it was my teachers (Michael Ackerman and Antoine D'Agata) who really gave me the love for cinema," the 27-year-old told CNN. "They just blew my mind. It was something new, something I had never seen before, it was photojournalism but with a very intimate and subjective approach."

Vincent (real name Mathieu Saura) explained: "I'm not really into perfect things in their final form so when we were filming I tried to be very honest with who I am and just try to catch the rhythm of the song and be there on the same level with them.

"They get instruments in their hand and I've got a camera so they play guitar and I play camera, in a way."

The multinational project has included artists from as far apart as Romania, Iceland, Australia, and Sweden starring acts such as Arcade Fire, The Kooks, The Shins, Guillemots and promising newcomers Vampire Weekend -- but the show has a simple premise.

"I met Chryde, the owner and creator of La Blogotheque (French online music site which hosts the shows), and he had this idea of doing something with bands which wasn't just an interview," says Moon. Video Watch the latest Take Away Show featuring Mali musician Sidi Toure »

"I was studying to make music videos at the time but I wasn't interested at all in that, as I felt I had been created to promote music, sell albums and sell songs and it's just marketing.

"It was very lo-fi at first because we couldn't afford do it any other way, and now we're keeping it like that because I think it's very important to keep it human."

Off the back of "The Take Away Shows," Vincent was offered the directorial role for global rock act R.E.M.'s new music video "Supernatural Super Serious" -- an offer which he admits was hard to turn down despite his distaste for MTV.

"Last month I was in Mali shooting a music festival in the Sahara desert when Michael (Stipe -- R.E.M.'s lead singer) called me.

"I was on another planet, I was so far away from thinking about anything like that but he really insisted that he wanted me to do it even though he knows I really hate music videos, so I said yes."

Moon has since worked on two other R.E.M. projects, the first a film of the band's performances in Dublin last year called "6 Days," which is to be released with their new album "Accelerate," and, secondly, a side project called "90 Nights," available online now which follows the band during the recording process of the album to be released April 1.

Vincent said of the film: "I think it's really strange and very interesting. I don't think there have been a lot of bands filmed like that, especially such a big band; it's quite experimental.

"They were really easy to work with, very respectful to my ideas and to all my work and so it gave me great confidence working with those guys."

R.E.M.'s lead singer Michael Stipe spoke of his admiration for the director:

"When I decided to include Vincent in the album I didn't want to just limit ourselves to a couple of Take Away Shows. I was really impressed with his work: he uses such simplicity but brings with it a great knowledge of film.

"He uses a medium from another time and uses technology to make it available to all of us through the Internet."

The legendary frontman even indicated the collaboration will be rekindled in the future:

"I have no doubt our paths will cross again, it has been a real pleasure working with Vincent and his people. I would encourage anyone reading this to do a search through his other work which is both varied and impressive."


However, this young director is not sitting back and admiring his accomplishments just yet: "My next project will be on African and improvised music which I'm very excited about," said Vincent.

"Especially the project in Mali which may turn into a bigger project filming crazy music festivals all around the world. All my new projects are about traveling, documenting the world and not only music, but still applying the way I was filming musicians in Take Away shows." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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