Sun. Apr 2nd, 2023

From Dutch director and photographer, Anton Corbijn, Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) tells the historical past behind Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell, the inventive minds behind one of the iconic design studios in musical historical past, Hipgnosis. No stranger to the musical frontier, Corbijn has labored with quite a few influential artists, particularly Depeche Mode, U2, The Killers, and lots of others, in addition to directed quite a lot of notable music movies, together with Nirvana’s “Coronary heart-Formed Field.” Although Squaring the Circle is Corbijn’s first feature-length doc, he is manned the director’s chair for movies like 2007’s Management and The American, starring George Clooney.


Squaring the Circle contains archived audio of the late Thorgerson discussing how the once-dilapidated constructing on Dean Avenue in London progressed by the counterculture of the ‘60s and ‘70s, in addition to tons of recent interviews from rock legends like Pink Floyd’s Roger Walters and David Gilmour, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Web page and Robert Plant, and Paul McCartney, amongst others. Po, who Corbijn reveals was a driving consider getting this story to the display, joins the dialog, recalling particular album design ideas and discussions. Corbijn’s documentary permits Po and the artists to reminisce, and inform their origin story from a time when the political ambiance, hallucinogenic medicine, and the liberty of expression closely influenced music.

With Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) celebrating its world premiere on the Sundance Movie Pageant, Anton Corbijn took a second to cease by the Collider Studio offered by Saratoga Spring Water in Park Metropolis to talk with Editor-in-Chief, Steve Weintraub. Corbijn provides us a rundown of his profession as a movie director, his work with quite a lot of iconic musical artists, and what first impressed him to choose up a digicam. He teases a couple of of the wild tales featured in Squaring the Circle about how Hipgnosis pulled off basic album sleeve covers (together with, however not restricted to, sheep, helicopters, and Hawaii), and divulges the following huge characteristic movie he’s directing. He additionally shares the documentary’s theatrical launch date, a private story about Kurt Cobain, and some of his favourite album covers. For all of this and extra, take a look at the interview within the video above, or you possibly can learn the complete transcript beneath.

Picture by way of Sundance

COLLIDER: I like your work, and I am so glad that you just’re right here within the studio on your documentary. I’ve one million questions for you, however I first need to say congrats for being a part of Sundance this 12 months.

ANTON CORBIJN: Cheers. I am very glad to be right here.

So your résumé is implausible. You have directed characteristic movies, you have achieved a doc, and you’ve got directed tons of music movies. If somebody has by no means seen something that you have achieved earlier than, what’s the very first thing you want them to observe, and why?

CORBIJN: Oh, nicely, clearly I am additionally a photographer for 50 years now. So there’s that…

Additionally, you’ve achieved album covers, I used to be extra aiming at issues that they might watch.

CORBIJN: Okay, nicely music video-wise, [there are] in all probability about 100 movies that I did. Numerous Depeche Mode, Nirvana is kind of widespread in America – “Coronary heart-Formed Field,” it is certainly one of my favorites – Coldplay, The Killers, and that stuff.

Then films, I assume begin with the primary one, which is Management. It’s a movie concerning the singer of a band known as Pleasure Division who I knew. So it was the one approach I dared to make a film as a result of I knew loads about it.

I like Management. That film is implausible. By the best way, that is going to be many of the interview, me saying, “It is implausible.” I apologize.

CORBIJN: No, no, do not.

I’m curious, along with your characteristic movies, together with the documentary, which one modified essentially the most within the modifying room in ways in which you didn’t anticipate?

CORBIJN: Yeah, good query. I assume the documentary since you’re not in cost the entire time. I am in command of the stuff I shoot, however we had to make use of a lot archival footage which must be discovered and put in there, and the editor, Andrew Hulme, is implausible. He was additionally the editor for Management and for The American. So, I knew we had been gonna get a great film out of it.

Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis), most individuals watching this proper now won’t have seen the film but.

CORBIJN: Or know what Hipgnosis is.

Precisely. So how have you ever been explaining to family and friends what the documentary is about?

CORBIJN: Effectively, often I hold it broader and say it is about album sleeve designers from the ‘70s, which is when album sleeves grew to become a drive. Within the ‘80s, in fact, we received CDs, so the album sleeve form of deteriorated, and the artwork with it. However it’s targeted actually on two guys. They fashioned an organization known as Hipgnosis, and so they had been at college with Pink Floyd. And they also began with Pink Floyd, the primary album, and so they did all of the albums for Pink Floyd. So most individuals know one or two of those albums, no less than.

Picture by way of Photagonist

Yeah, they’re answerable for a number of the most iconic pictures in rock historical past, and particularly something that folks have seen within the ‘70s, they almost definitely did it.

CORBIJN: Yeah. For me, I at all times like essentially the most simple pictures. So, for the Pink Floyd or Peter Gabriel sleeves, the extra simple the pictures in a approach. However they had been very intelligent. Earlier than we had all of the intricate issues we are able to do now on the pc, they did it with a knife and glue, and items of paper. They made actually unimaginable collages and made the unimaginable potential.

I’ve to ask you, what was it that stated, “Oh my god, I need to make this, I need to inform this story.”?

CORBIJN: Effectively, to be sincere, I used to be requested to do it by [Aubrey “Po” Powell] who’s the surviving member of Hipgnosis, and Po’s a, as you see within the movie, an excellent salesman. So he bought the idea to me. He got here to Amsterdam, the place I stay, and I stated I’d do it as a result of, clearly, you understand, I solely {photograph} as a result of I like music a lot.

It was the one purpose for me to choose up a digicam as a result of I needed to be nearer to the music. It is quite simple beginnings as a fan taking pictures folks on stage and all that. However I grew to become a portrait photographer ultimately. After desirous to publish in magazines, the following and the best stage that I might consider on the time was doing report sleeves. So I regarded on the report sleeves from the late ‘60s, and that was precisely when Hipgnosis began.

One of many issues concerning the documentary is, you’ve Po, who is ready to discuss, however there’s not lots of footage from again then of their workplace working. So what was it like for you whenever you determined, “Okay, I am gonna do that,” however there are actually restricted belongings to drag from within the ‘70s?

CORBIJN: Completely, and I had no concept what I stated sure to, in a approach, you understand? I jumped into it. As you possibly can see within the movie, the stuff with Po is all my stuff, and the interviews with the Pink Floyd guys, Peter Gabriel, [and Paul McCartney], all that stuff got here from me. However all the opposite stuff, we had been looking out and looking out to seek out stuff that regarded authentic, and, in fact, Storm [Thorgerson] had handed away, so we had to have a look at stuff that different TV stations made, and all that stuff, and put it collectively, and do him justice as nicely.

Certain. For those that know Pink Floyd, they know that there are two members that aren’t precisely greatest mates anymore, however you managed to get each of them within the film. So discuss slightly bit about getting them, and was it troublesome, had been they cool with each of them being within the movie?

CORBIJN: Yeah, Pink Floyd, I assume everyone is aware of they’ve 4 managers lately – for each member there’s a supervisor – so there is a little bit of negotiating happening. However I assume the love for Hipgnosis overrode all that, and so they needed to be a part of this. I imply, they weren’t within the studio on the similar, however all of them stated sure to it ultimately. I imply, it took a while [for] some time, however all achieved.

It is fascinating as a result of I consider it is in all probability Roger [Waters] that is most like Storm when it comes to very comparable personalities.

CORBIJN: Yeah, and I feel they had been very shut mates, however they’d a nasty falling out and didn’t converse to one another for years, however earlier than Storm died they made up once more, luckily. And I feel Roger at all times had a love for Storm anyway, it is simply two headstrong characters, you understand?

For individuals who do not realize, there have been no computer systems again then once they had been making their album covers. However the documentary talks about one time once they went up on a mountain, taking a helicopter with a statue to get the shot. As of late, nobody would ever do that, you understand? Are you able to discuss a number of the loopy issues that they did to get the shot to make the proper album cowl?

CORBIJN: Effectively, one of many craziest issues – it’s additionally within the movie – is a sleeve for 10cc, the place they noticed the concept of getting a sheep on a sofa in a wonderful ocean. So that they went all the best way to Hawaii, not realizing [there were] no sheep in Hawaii, and there have been no couches both for [psychoanalysis], or no matter. So they’d a sofa made, and so they had one sheep, they discovered one sheep on the college, and so they managed to provide it lots of Valium and shot it. Then they used it [gestures] this small on an album sleeve.

So it’s loopy stuff, in fact. However the one you talked about is Paul McCartney and Wings with a statue on a mountaintop with a helicopter. Then, once they got here again, folks stated, “Oh, that is nice, however you possibly can have achieved it in a studio with a bunch of salt.” And that is true, nevertheless it’s not a lot enjoyable, in fact.

Picture by way of Photagonist

Certain, and it is the amount of cash they spent to get the shot and to make an album cowl.

CORBIJN: It is also the journey. One of many causes I am nonetheless a photographer is that I like the journey. So I do not plan so many issues, it is discovering issues on the best way.

I might think about with the doc there should have been an extended lower. Did you ever have a model that was like three hours, or for much longer?

CORBIJN: There was a model that was a bit longer, however we, from the outset, had been fairly acutely aware of, “It must be watchable for individuals who do not know a lot about it,” and you’ll’t simply throw a three-hour documentary of their face.

For those who do not thoughts, what was the very last thing that you just lower out earlier than picture-locking? Was there one story, or one factor?

CORBIJN: I feel it was a acutely aware determination, no less than, to maintain, after Hipgnosis, the Dollar Movies, that a part of it with the movies, to solely truly form of point out, not likely displaying the footage. A part of it [was] as a result of I did not prefer it. You realize, I did not like what they had been making. It felt ‘70s to me, and that was within the ‘80s, and I needed to focus on the album sleeves.

They made so many iconic pictures. Clearly, The Darkish Facet of the Moon, Pink Floyd, is probably essentially the most well-known. As somebody who makes album covers your self, and does a lot pictures, what’s one or two, or three of the album covers that you just assume are simply so iconic?

CORBIJN: Of their work? Effectively, for me, Atom Coronary heart Mom. Placing a cow on an album sleeve, I feel that is an unimaginable assertion given, you understand, that is 1970, very early on, very radical.

And that was Pink Floyd, for those that don’t notice.

CORBIJN: Sorry, it’s Pink Floyd. As a result of it would not say on the album sleeve, both, what it’s. I actually love Peter Gabriel’s first album sleeve, within the automotive.

Oh yeah, that is an ideal cowl.

CORBIJN: Yeah, and oh, troublesome deciding like greatest after that, however I assume the Led Zeppelin album sleeve, Homes of the Holy.

Is that the one with the infant, like the youngsters?

CORBIJN: Yeah, as a result of there’s at all times an ideal story about that. Yeah, however I’ve additionally an interview with Peter Saville within the movie, who’s a contemporary designer who labored with Pleasure Division, and established the entire Manufacturing unit Information aesthetic. As a result of I do know he would not like Hipgnosis a lot, so I needed to have that voice in there too. One in every of my favourite album sleeves is Pleasure Division, Unknown Pleasures. This isn’t so dissimilar to The Darkish Facet of the Moon, so we’re evaluating them as nicely.

Certain. I am glad you truly put that within the movie to point out that it wasn’t simply them, you understand? If you find yourself making a movie like this, did you’ve a date the place you stated to your self, “I must be achieved by…” What’s it like, as a director making a doc? Since you might spend years, otherwise you may be like, “I am doing this over six months.”

CORBIJN: Yeah, nicely, that may have been very optimistic for me to say that as a result of we had this pandemic stuff taking place, and most people we filmed are in direction of 80. So that they’re all slightly scary, scared, I ought to say, of individuals coming to their house, or themselves leaving their house. So it took some time. We wanted an extended time-frame, nevertheless it labored and it in all probability was higher for it to have extra time.

I do not truly know the discharge plan. Is it on the market at Sundance? Does it have a distributor?

CORBIJN: The distributor in America is Utopia, and it is being launched, I consider, first of June, or one thing, for theatrical.

So for those that will not be at Sundance, it is possible for you to to see the movie in June.

CORBIJN: Yeah, in theaters, which is implausible as a result of the music is, in fact, nice too.

Picture by way of Photagonist

That is the opposite factor I used to be gonna ask you about is that, you bought to place in lots of music, and I do know music is pricey to place in a film. Did you’ve some blackmail, or did folks simply say they need their music to be a part of this?

CORBIJN: You realize, I got here on my bicycle. So, you understand, we paid for it. No, I feel lots of people needed their music in it. I used to be not a part of the deal-making, however I am certain we had favorable offers.

I used to be going to say, should you’re getting Pink Floyd in it and Led Zeppelin, and these artists, I might think about they need their music to be with their pictures.

CORBIJN: Yeah, I might think about that.

Is one other characteristic movie in your horizon?


What are you engaged on now?

CORBIJN: I am engaged on a movie that we shoot, I feel, in October/November this 12 months largely in Europe.

Are you able to give me anymore or is it near the vest?

CORBIJN: It’s a narrative about Patricia Highsmith who was the author of The Gifted Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Practice for [Alfred] Hitchcock, and stuff like that.

Is it a bio movie?

CORBIJN: It is fictional, however yeah, [there are] biographical parts in there for certain.

I received it. I will carry on digging. Does it have a title?


You are not going to share.

CORBIJN: Sure, I can share it. It is known as Switzerland.

For those who do not thoughts me asking, who’s paying for it? Does it have a distributor?

CORBIJN: Not but. We’re promoting it. We’re placing a package deal collectively.

Oh, I like this. Effectively, to begin with, I actually hope this comes collectively, which I am assured that may. You clearly have superb style. What’s the final film or TV present that you just actually cherished that you just need to advocate to folks?

CORBIJN: Oh, I do not assume seen something that persons are not aware of. The Banshees of Inisherin is nice. That is the final movie I noticed that I actually cherished, I feel. What did I see on the aircraft yesterday? Some documentary about… anyway, some documentary.

It was a really memorable documentary.

CORBIJN: Oh, sorry, [Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road.] It was touching. I imply, aesthetically it isn’t that nice, nevertheless it’s touching to see.

You talked about initially a number of the music movies you have achieved. If somebody has not seen any of the music movies, is there one you need them to start out with, or two?

CORBIJN: The brand new one with Depeche Mode that comes out in February.

Oh you have already shot this. For which track?

CORBIJN: It is known as “Ghosts Once more.”

My last item for you. Since you’ve shot so many music movies, how a lot is it a collaboration with the band that you just’re working with, and the way a lot are they hiring you as a result of they need you to carry what you do to the music?

CORBIJN: Effectively, largely the latter, however my most well-known video was written by any individual else, and that’s “Coronary heart-Formed Field,” and it’s 90% written by Kurt Cobain. I modified some issues, however he had very sturdy visible concepts.

For those who do not thoughts a follow-up, I clearly love his work, and if nobody has seen Cobain: Montage of Heck, [Brett Morgen’s] movie, it is implausible. However what was it like working with him, and what do you assume may shock followers of Kurt to be taught?

CORBIJN: I assume that he was one of many sweetest guys you possibly can think about. You realize, I actually preferred Kurt. He requested me for an additional video for “Pennyroyal Tea” – this was the following single – and I stated, “I can not do it as a result of the video we simply did is so good. It really works so nicely. I will disappoint you with the following one as a result of I do not assume we are able to get it to that stage.” So he then stated, “Effectively should you do not do it, I’ll by no means make one other video once more and he by no means did.” So, in hindsight, I ought to actually have achieved that video.

Particular due to our 2023 companions at Sundance together with presenting companion Saratoga Spring Water and supporting companions Marbl Toronto, EMFACE, Sommsation, Hendrick’s Gin, Stella Artois, MOU Footwear, and the all-electric car, Fisker Ocean.

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