Michael Stipe: So, James, since Collapse Into Now is going to be our very last album, we're looking to go all out with it and make a video for every song, and collaborate with filmmakers who share our interests and aesthetics. And since we both worked on that River Phoenix montage and clearly enjoy half-baked philosophizing about pop iconography together, naturally I thought of you to direct "Blue." I'm not sure if you've heard it, but it's really more of a tone poem than anything else—like, there's a lot of rambling Beat poetry about living in the 20th century, and then Patti Smith sings some stuff about Cinderella. So, while I don't want to tell you what to do, I was thinking it might be nice to have a similarly amorphous montage of empty, loosely connected imagery.
Like maybe: lots of shaky footage of iconic, Hollywood Boulevard locations and studio backlots, some random helicopter shots of the city, a couple of hipsters at gallery openings, photo shoots involving wan-looking models and drag queens, and—of course—as many homages to Rebel Without A Cause as you can fit in there. But all blurry and haphazardly bled together, then run through an Instagram filter—though I know I don't have to tell you that. I feel like that will give it all the faintest hint of theme, like maybe you're exposing the cheap artifice of Hollywood, while simultaneously celebrating its ability to elevate that artifice to high art. But you know, in an academic way that's so detached it requires you to bring those presumptions to the material. You know, like you do. Think you could work up something like that?
[James Franco clicks through his iMovie folder, happens upon a file labeled "PanaflexPanicInTheStreets-HollywoodPanopticonPart24.avi"]
James Franco: This one has Lindsay Lohan.
Michael Stipe: Perfect!