Essential: Works is an interview format that Directors Library regularly hosts with film and video Directors. We ask directors to name three key and influential works under the film, campaign and music video categories. The series aims to broaden horizons of reference and acknowledge works from the back catalogue.
To kick the series off we got in touch with Ian Pons Jewell, and he kindly obliged.
Deep Down Low – Valentino Khan
Directed by Ian Pons Jewell
Below are Ian’s picks and what he had to say:
Essential: Films – Ian Pons Jewell
The films were a tough one to do. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pick my three favourite films, it’s an ever changing thing depending on where I am in my work and mood.
These I suppose are the ones that came to mind in the moment writing this, films that have had a major impact on me or simply take me somewhere else, dissolve me of my own identity and life, and transport me into their world. They’re films that have then stayed with me long after viewing. Of course, at the time of writing they are at the forefront of my brain, but by the time I hand this in a different trio of films will probably be bubbling to the top.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Directed by James Cameron →
3. 3 Women (1977)
Directed by Robert Altman →
Others that come to mind are Szindbád by Zoltán Huszárik, Mulholland Drive, Mad Max – Fury Road, Being There, The Shining, Fire In The Sky, Under The Skin, Come and See, The Fly, Alien… so many :'(
Essential: Music Videos – Ian Pons Jewell
For the videos I’d have probably put more than one Cunningham video but wanted to vary it and include contemporary ones because I think music videos are on a totally different level now compared to “back in the day”. I’ve always found it rather weird when I hear people talk about the “golden age” of MTV from a creative sense, most of those videos weren’t exactly masterpieces. Little craft. Hardly any rhythmical design, sloppy cinematography. The budgets are certainly missed though.
I have a strong affinity to music videos that are highly designed to the music, ones that you can’t remove the visual from the sound and vice versa, a perfection of meetings. Music videos for me are a striving for a pure unison.
1. Rubber Johnny (2005)
Directed by Chris Cunningham
2. Pursuit – Gesaffelstein (2013)
3. Aura – Bicep (2017)
Directed by Matilda Finn
Essential: Commercials – Ian Pons Jewell
Commercials. It’s been a very interesting journey for me as I had always discounted them completely. I didn’t have much respect for them, didn’t seek them out to watch or keep up to date, but of course loved the classics like Glazer’s guinness spot and so on. Like most after studying I was doing whatever to get by in London, from potwashing to wedding videos (there’s something uniquely tragic about filming a strangers wedding especially in England). So the idea of commercials was a way to not do these other jobs until the point I would make a feature. But then I did what was my first real commercial, for Otelo, and it changed my mind completely. I then became focussed on growing further as a commercial director to see how far I could push it. I often love doing them.
I also think there’s something almost subversive in being handed a large pot of money and responsibility in creating communication for a corporation. There are many freedoms within it even when the script isn’t inherently “creative”. Whatever happens, you choose where to place the camera, that’s one of the biggest powers within filmmaking. After a couple years going hard on them, I am definitely starting to see myself tiring of the format and all the process that goes with it.
My picks were initially all Fincher commercials, so I’ve tried to avoid that, but still heavy on his work. But the path of Fincher and Glazer has been one that I’ve looked closely at as a benchmark so their work in particular stands out.
1. Beauty For Sale – XELIBRI (2003)
Directed by David Fincher
2. Alter Ego – Nike Pro Combat (2009)
Directed by David Fincher
3. Red – Motorola (2006 – Unreleased)
Directed by Jonathan Glazer