Released in May 2022, “Cut!” is a French remake of “Don’t Cut!”, a Japanese horror comedy directed by Shin’ichirô Ueda. As in the original film, Michel Hazanavicius begins his feature film with a superb sequence shot. Find out how he crafted this absolutely brilliant part of the feature film.
Cut! : the French remake of Don’t cut!
In 2018 released in Japan Don’t cut!the first feature film by Shin’ichirô Ueda. This astonishing and confusing work follows the misadventures of a film crew, which seeks to make a zombie film in a single sequence shot.
Divided into three parts, the film makes it possible to involve the public as closely as possible in the creation of a film with few means. Meta work, Don’t cut! mixes genres (comedy, horror, mockumentary, found footage), offers unexpected depths, and makes a powerful tribute to independent cinema and his alternative way of making films. Released in 2019 in France, Don’t cut! is a deliberately kitsch nugget, almost experimental, which notably offers a mind-blowing 37-minute sequence shot as an introduction.
Faced with the singularity of this work, filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist, OSS 117) decided to make a French-language remake of Don’t cut!. Soberly titled Cut!, the feature film, released in May 2022, brings together a four-star cast including Romain Duris, Bérénice Bejo, Grégory Gadebois, Finnegan Oldfield and Jean-Pascal Zadi. To pay homage to Shin’ichirô Ueda’s film, Michel Hazanavicius has decided to offer more or less a copy/paste of the original work. He has even recreated the opening sequence shot.
Behind the scenes of this famous sequence shot
Of Don’t Cut!, Michel Hazanavicius notably kept the first part of the feature film, with this sequence shot structure, a pastiche of the zombie film. To immerse himself in the genre, the French director has reviewed many zombie films such as the works of the great George A. Romero. But with Cut!the filmmaker wanted above all to pay homage to the seventh art as a whole:
The film as a whole is also, and perhaps above all, a tribute to the people who make films, the actors, the directors, but also the technicians, the trainees, everyone. A tribute to cinema in the making, to the profession of cinema, on a daily basis.
So, like in the original movie, Cut! opens with a 32-minute sequence shot. A complicated exercise, but one that Michel Hazanavicius loved trying out:
It was thought out, shot, executed like a sequence shot. I’ve never been obsessed with the sequence shot like Gaspar Noé or Alfonso Cuarón. It has never been my Grail even if it is obvious that it often has a great narrative force. Of course I did a few, but for comedy in particular, I tend to cut well to take the best of each take, highlight the actors, master the rhythm, etc… There, we had to confront each other to this exercise, with the additional specificity that it looks like a failure. Obviously by controlling the failure, since he is preparing the last part. So I storyboarded everything. In the end, I see this shot rather as 250 shots connected by a single camera movement.
A big workout
But to achieve this flawless result, the whole team of Cut! trained for several weeks. This sequence shot took the majority of the rehearsal time. Indeed, of the six weeks of rehearsals, Michel Hazanavicius used five only for the sequence shot:
I storyboarded everything so that every move, every camera position, every timing was repeated and repeated until it was absorbed by everyone. The last week of preparation, we worked with the machinery, the special effects, the stuntmen, the make-up, the costumes. We had fake blood, beheadings, characters turning into zombies with a few seconds for makeup changes, prostheses, lenses, etc. We choreographed everything, whether it was as precise as possible in the movements as in the the timing.
Finally, Michel Hazanavicius managed to shoot these 32 minutes of films in just four days:
In the end, we shot it in four days, each time with the pleasure of doing a performance. But the good catch is that of the afternoon of the fourth day. And I must say that the whole team has been admirably united, and what we have experienced is in a way not so far from this…