On My Radar: Ian Pons Jewell
Hamlet director and shots Awards nominee Ian Pons Jewell’s take on the alarming state of the music video industry, the need for warm blankets and respect and the uselessness of stylus pens.
What’s the best ad campaign you’ve seen recently?
An unreleased Glazer spot.
What website(s) do you use most regularly and why?
It's probably YouTube in terms of sheer use, but does that count?
What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought and why?
I don't have much 'tech', but I switched to Android some months back and got a Note 8. Thought I'd use the stylus pen loads. I didn't.
What’s your favoured social media platform?
What’s your favourite app on your phone?
What’s your favourite TV show and why?
Seinfeld. Because it's like a warm blanket over an existential crisis.
What’s your favourite podcast and why?
I still haven't set up the use of podcasts.
What film do you think everyone should have seen and why?
In terms of the most recent film, because 'of all time', it's too hard, I would say Hereditary. I think it's a modern masterpiece of the horror genre.
Where were you when inspiration last struck?
In a beautiful little cliff-surrounded lake near Kiev. I'd like to shoot a short film centered around it.
"The industry around music videos needs to start to understand just how much blood and sweat goes into them."
What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it?
The state of the music video industry getting even worse than it was when I started. It's become a tragic joke and serious change is needed. Directors are really suffering in it. I've tried to make three videos this year. Two never ended up happening, each with their own strung-out problems, and another was shot, edited and then canned. It included some of the most insulting messages I've received in my professional career.
But I am in the very lucky position now to be busy in commercials. It doesn't affect my career. I know from other directors that far worse happens and they don’t have commercials to fall back on in terms of output. Some of them get close to or reach breaking point and simply give up. It's a fucking tragedy and it needs serious upheaval, starting at the contract level in my opinion.
The industry around music videos needs to start to understand just how much blood and sweat goes into them, even at treatment stage, and we also need to stop normalising the fact we are the ones upholding the constant output by working for free, along with production companies, post companies and all the other departments involved. But Daniel Kwan recently re-ignited the debate around it and has set up a Twitter and website which music video directors can sign up to. Please check it out if you're in videos and sign up, he has high hopes to create a supportive network between us.
"The state of the music video industry [is] getting even worse than it was when I started."
If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?
For agencies to give a chance to directors without a commercial on their reel. I am forever grateful to Robert Krause of Scholz and Friends being so sure of wanting me to bid on what was, for me, my first ever commercial. And Anorak for producing it and continuing the path it started. It was a big budget too.
I can pinpoint this as a lifechanging moment. For many of us who come from music videos, a commercial can literally be life-changing. So, I would urge agencies to not send it out to the usual suspects on every bid, but try some non-commercial directors also. They will bring something totally new and work their ass off for it too. But I've generally had an amazing experience and what was particularly surprising was seeing the vast difference in respect given to you from agencies compared to the music video dynamic. It really opened my eyes.
What or who has most influenced your career and why?
Stanley Kubrick, Jonathan Glazer [below], David Fincher. Kubrick for the obvious reasons, but Fincher and Glazer influenced me to such a huge degree in terms of their path as well as their films. They carved out total authorship in their commercials before going on to features. It's made me treat every commercial as if it could be sitting in an archive of my work in decades to come.
I think this romantic notion of digging into a director's body of work spanning decades is always in the back of my mind. I mean, why make anything unless it might be something?
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.
I love Tom Cruise.