shots hero Spike Jonze is a (non) accidental anarchist
Who wouldn’t want to break out of a stuffy dinner to go and gurn weirdly at one’s own reflection and dance a deranged jig, or take driving to a Gap store to ruinous limits? We analyse rebel hero Spike Jonze and the gleeful anarchy that powers his films.
Adam Spiegel’s name might not be immediately linked with quirky creativity but his alter ego, Spike Jonze, most certainly is. From a teenage photographer shooting skateboarders and BMX riders, to a filmmaker directing skate movies with and for his friends, Jonze has segued into becoming a director who has excelled across music videos, commercials and feature films.
His collaborations with UK dance stalwart Fatboy Slim also produced some amazing accompanying videos.
If it was his skateboarding films that initially got him noticed by bands, it was the subsequent videos for those artists which introduced his creative image-making to the rest of the world. His first video in 1992, for Sonic Youth’s 100>#/em###, led to others for bands including The Breeders and Weezer. In 1994 he helmed the iconic, 70s cop pastiche for the Beastie Boys promo Sabotage, following that up in 1995 with Björk’s paean to musicals, It’s Oh So Quiet.
Above: Jonze's video for Bjork's It's Oh So Quiet
His collaborations with UK dance stalwart Fatboy Slim also produced some amazing accompanying videos with the crazy, documentary-style Praise You, shot with a troupe of (very) amateur dancers, led by Jonze, under the moniker of Richard Koufey, outside a US theatre. Then there’s a shots favourite, 2001’s amazing, multiple award winning, Christopher Walken-starring Weapon of Choice.
Agencies know, more than ever, it’s about an idea and a story more than it’s about advertising. If you’re just advertising something, no one’s going to care.
Where the wildness is
In the commercials arena Jonze picked up one of the industry’s top prizes, a Film Grand Prix, in 2002 for IKEA Lamp and has been the director behind, among others, work for adidas [Hello, Tomorrow], Levi’s [Doctors], Nike [The Morning After] and Gap [Pardon Our Dust], all of which feature the trademark sensibility that give his work such appeal – a sense of anarchy. Jonze’s success away from advertising as a director of films including Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are and Her, and an actor in movies such as Three Kings and The Wolf of Wall Street hasn’t stopped him from returning to advertising. In the last couple of years he has directed hugely successful short films-cum-music videos-cum-commercials for Kenzo, which featured US actress Margaret Qualley undertaking an epically unusual dance routine through a plush hotel lobby, and Apple, which starred UK musician FKA Twigs.
“Agencies know, more than ever, it’s about an idea and a story more than it’s about advertising,” Jonze told shots. “If you’re just advertising something, no one’s going to care. I think that’s always been the case with the best advertising, and I think it always will be."