Spike Jonze: Clients should be willing to be fired on a good idea



Film director Spike Jonze has urged marketers to be more brave in commissioning ideas, telling a forum at Cannes Lions they should be “willing to be fired for a good idea”.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Gaston Legorburu, worldwide chief creative officer of Sapient Nitro, at a session called Meet the Disruptors Jonze said he got people to establish relationships with his films by “not telling them what to think or feel”

The American director has created a number of music videos for the likes of the Beastie Boys and Fatboy Slim, as well as movies including Being John Malkovic, Where the Wild Things Are and Her.

Talking about  pushing creativity and creative ideas Jonze framed it from the perspective of an advertising agency, saying: “It’s a hard thing to push if you’ve written 100 different concepts and they keep getting knocked back, to keep your enthusiasm.

“If there’s any clients in the room be willing to get fired on a  good idea, that’s what the world needs.

“That’s easy for me to say I don’t have to pay your mortgage, but its finding people who aren’t scared. I’m nervous about taking jobs as I want people to understand what it is I want to do, and I don’t want to run into trouble later on.”

The conversation also moved to how to make people engage with films, with marketers increasingly looking to forge connections between their brand’s content and the consumer.

Talking about his most recent film, Her, which explored the relationship between a man and his artificially intelligent computer operating system, Jonze said: “When I’m making a movie I don’t know what it is I’m saying. I know what it is to me, but not to other people.

“My last movie Her was conceived around questions I have, about relationships, intimacy, what makes a relationship succeed or fail and what brings intimacy or prevents it.

“I wasn’t trying to say think this, feel this, I was trying to represent what I was thinking about, yearning for and excited about. The hope is if you present honestly what you believe in and there are things contradicting what you believe, you have those both in a movie and wrestling with each other.

“It’s the same in every medium as long as your putting yourselves in it authentically and honestly.”

The conversation also touched on resolving the tensions between creative vision and financiers for a film, with Jonze using the example of his film Where the Wild Ones Are.

“The reality is we have to understand everyone’s problems and the guy who runs the studio is anxious like a client and they have expectations,” he said.

“But I can only take that onto a certain degree and once it started hurting my ability to make the movie and it was pulling me away from my connection I had to stop talking to them and they either had to fire me or let me finish, fortunately they didn’t fire me.”

Alex Hayes in Cannes

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