Brett Morgen on Pairing Audio Archives and Animation for ‘Montage of Heck’

The director's intimate Kurt Cobain documentary owes a lot to archival cassette tapes.
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The director's intimate Kurt Cobain documentary owes a lot to archival cassette tapes.

When director Brett Morgen got access to the storage facility full of Kurt Cobain’s work and possessions, he had no idea that his greatest find would be 108 cassette tapes full of home recordings.

“I wasn't expecting that at all, in fact, that conversation had never come up [while negotiating access with the Cobain estate]-- [around] what sort of audio might be in storage," he tells Indiewire. “So we went and got two Pro Tools systems to start transferring, and because I'm an archivist by nature, I don't skip over anything. I wanted to examine every little moment and that became really important, because Kurt was very careless with his audio cassettes; he would tape over stuff, he might start recording in the middle of a tape, or what-have-you."

To pair the audio with visuals, Morgen turned to two animators: Hisko Hulsing who provided traditional single cel animation and Stefan Nadelman who created several motion graphics sequences.

"I didn't have a picture of the film in my head like [Brett] did," Nadelman says, "so he would just give me some key words to work with, like what Kurt was feeling at the time or what he was going for in the narrative and then he would sort of let me loose."

Read the full story here.



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