Celebrated th1ng (pronounced “thing one”) director/animator Sylvain Chomet received a personal request from Matt Groening, creator of iconic animated TV show The Simpsons, to create his own take on the “couch gag” that culminates each week’s opening credits. The three-time Oscar nominee (The Triplets of Belleville, L'illusionniste, and The Old Lady and the Pigeons), BAFTA and César award winner’s response was to add to his long list of acclaimed work with a uniquely French version of the gag. Chomet’s latest masterpiece was revealed online today, three days before it appears at the beginning of The Simpsons episode “Diggs,” which airs March 9, 2014 at 7:30pm EST in the U.S.
In reinterpreting the couch gag, Chomet joins an illustrious list of directors invited by Groening -- including Guillermo del Toro, Banksy and Bill Plympton, among others -- to provide unique extended scenes to the famous gag. Chomet’s version of the gag begins with a power outage that leaves only the famous family’s blinking eyes visible in the darkness. When the lights come back on, the familiar Simpson’s living room is transformed into an exaggerated Gallic world à la Sylvain Chomet.
Building on a 30 year relationship with the celebrated and successful feature film and commercial director, th1ng founder and executive producer Dominic Buttimore worked closely with Chomet to create and storyboard the concept for the animation sequence, which was immediately met with “laughter and appreciation” by Groening and Simpsons producer Al Jean. Under Chomet’s direction, th1ng director Kirk Hendry contributed lighting and color work to the sequence. The result is a whimsically surreal, undeniably magical experience that Al Jean summed up neatly as “a dream come true.”
“Working on The Simpsons is a great honor, and the creative freedom they gave us enabled Sylvain to really show off his storytelling skills,” says Buttimore. “This project also allowed th1ng to demonstrate the collaborative spirit and collective nature of our company.”