His fascination with Sparks, his first documentary, his relationship to music in cinema, “Annette” and even his next feature film, “Last Night in Soho”: Edgar Wright evokes at length “The Sparks Brothers”.
“That’s all I could hope for. It’s the best possible reaction to the movie.”, laughs Edgar Wright, when we point out to him that between his documentary and Leos Carax’s Annette, we’re going to spend a good part of the summer listening to Sparks songs.
Because the group led by Ron and Russell Mael, to whom we owe the story and the songs of Annette, is at the heart of The Sparks Brothers. A pop documentary, inventive and astonishing, in which the director looks back on those who have influenced a large number of artists but ultimately remain relatively unknown to the general public, despite twenty-five albums and a career that has lasted for fifty years.
So it took a long interview with him to evoke the mystery that surrounds them, the film itself and its relationship to music. With a teasing on his next album.
DashFUN: When and how did you come up with this idea, not only to make a documentary on Sparks, but to try to unravel the mystery that surrounds them?
Edgar wright : I first met them in 2015. I was in Los Angeles, working on Baby Driver. I was a big fan of Sparks. An evangelist even, in the sense that I regularly asked my friends and colleagues if they had ever listened to their songs. And one day, while in West Hollywood writing with a friend and listening to Sparks a lot, I wondered if they were on Twitter.
So I found their page, and saw that it was written “Sparks follows you”. I had known them for something like thirty-six years, and I was so amazed to find that they were following me that I immediately sent them a private message asking if this was the band or the a press officer, stating that I was a big fan. And Russell replied: “No, it’s Russell, and we’re big fans of your movies.” I was stunned.
He asked me where I lived, and when I told him I was in Los Angeles then, he said that was where they lived. So I suggested we meet, and in thirty-two hours, I was having breakfast with them at Russell’s house. What’s interesting is that even though we talked about various topics the conversation quickly turned to the movies and Ron said: “Keep that to yourself, because it’s not sure that will happen. But maybe we’ll make a movie with Leos Carax.”
I wanted to tell their whole story, not reduce them to a 70’s band
And I love Holy Motors so it seemed incredible to me, and I really wanted to see this movie, which I heard about very early on. In the years that followed, after their collaboration with Franz Ferdinand on “FFS” then the release of the album “Hippopotamus”, they offered to make a clip for the latter, but I couldn’t because I was finishing Baby Driver. After the film came out, I went to see them in concert. And at that point, I wasn’t thinking of making a documentary, but I was saying out loud, and especially to people who knew them, that someone should do one on Sparks.
Because it’s a very interesting and influential band. They have a lot of interesting fans and collaborators, and their influence has been huge. I was at their gig with director Phil Lord [21 Jump Street, La Grande aventure Lego, ndlr], and when I told him about it, he said I should do it myself. Which struck me as obvious. That night, I wrote to Ron and Russell to talk about wanting to make a documentary about them, not knowing that they had turned down several proposals in the past because they didn’t know the directors.
I knew them and they liked my films. And in my pitch, I made it clear that I wanted to tell their whole story, not reduce them to a 70s band. I wanted to show Sparks as a band that continues to make music in 2020, as they always do. done before. They really liked the idea, and that’s how it all started.
Does that mean that you already had the whole structure in mind from the start?
Yes, in the sense that I wanted to tell their whole story. I got the feeling that when Ron and Russell turned down other documentary submissions, it was because the directors only wanted to look at the ’70s. As a fan, which strikes me as particularly. .