Mark Jenkinson is a film director from London with the intent to provide a unique story telling experience in his films. You might have seen Mark’s work with his award winning Audi R8 V10 video with over 1.7 million views, and his recent interactive video for Jaguar featuring Tom Hiddleston . Mark shoots the brand films for Rapha and has gone on to shoot TV, online and digitally integrated campaigns for Ford, Lexus, Seat and Jaguar. Funny enough, Mark doesn’t even have a drivers licence. Read on to view my interview with Mark about him and his career.
When did you discover directing?
Professionally I directed my first project back in 2006, while I was a runner at ASD Lionheart (my first job out of film school). But I guess I have loved being in charge of a camera since I was a child and we borrowed my dad’s friend’s video camera for the weekend. Let’s just say they never got it back…
Did you think you'd be a film director as a child?
I knew from about 10 years old I wanted to work with cameras. In fact I was obsessed by them from about 2 but back then never understood why I couldn’t see the results of a picture instantly. I find it funny that children nowadays don’t need to wait to see them. I was always making little films on super 8 as a child, but for a while, acting was my passion and I was on stage from 10-16 years old. Somewhere along the line I realised I wanted to stay behind the lens.
What do you hope to contribute with your work?
I hope to make films that grab people’s attention and truly engage them. I guess it’s presenting common subjects or storylines in new and unexpected ways. I’m always looking for the most dramatic or rich way of telling a story with the aim of pulling an audience in.
You've had the opportunity to work with high-profile clients, how has that benefited your career?
Well, mainly it gives other clients confidence in you because you have done it before. The tricky thing is trying to do something that you haven’t done before (which as a director you always want to do) and not having a track record to back you up.
Working with Tom Hiddleston on the Jaguar film has definitely enhanced me as a filmmaker so I hope this feeds into my career path in a positive way. His talent was so visible on set and the power he wielded in the smallest nuance of a performance was staggering. Working with him taught me a lot about directing actors at that level so I definitely feel equipped to build on this type of film.
How did the interactive short film featuring Tom Hiddleston for Jaguar come about?
I have been shooting an increasing amount of car commercials aimed at an online audience and I guess this put me on a list at the advertising agency. The script came in for me to pitch on through my production company Rogue Films. There was a great opportunity for me to build on the script and add a unique perspective on the interactivity, which I think helped win the job.
By the way, congratulations on the amazing film!
Thank you very much! It was certainly the most fun I have ever had on a
film set. Hopefully there will be more to come.
Where do you go to for inspiration?
I’m sure it’s the same for all filmmakers but cinema, photography and art are the main sources but music is a huge emotional influencer for me. Music can turn normal life into a film in a split second and give you an idea. I love this sort of unexpected inspiration the most as it catches you off guard. I take a lot of photographs for inspiration too, mainly portraits and interesting landscapes.
What were you aiming for with Jaguar's interactive film?
I think interactivity can be really exciting but it is often used in wrong the way. Interactivity should enhance a story or experience and not interrupt it. So with this project I really wanted it to come at the end of the film and offer genuine car enthusiasts a slightly closer look at the car itself. It was vital that the story didn’t get interrupted and it was important that the UX was simple. YouTube was perfect for creating a seamless experience that was also easily shareable. The end goal after drawing people into the story was to encourage them to visit the Jaguar site to find out more.
What makes your work different from others in your field?
I guess the way in which I approach my work is different. I’m very hands on and very resourceful since I began my career in digital (below the line) advertising where budgets were much lower. This taught me to adapt and solve problems ahead of shooting. However, I never want to compromise the production values in my work. So I would like to think my work stands out from a visual point of view against other work in the same genre and budget.
I also think my work tries to strike a chord with people in some way and cause them to talk about and share it proactively. I look for a new or unexpected way of treating an idea so it stands out and makes people say “I didn’t expect that”. For example, SEAT Cupra was a live stunt idea that I shot like an action movie car chase rather than a tv show style. Or Audi R8 that was effectively an engine demo, I made into a beautiful reveal of a car doing 203MPH without moving an inch (something that had never been done before). Above all, I try and shoot what I would love to watch.
What have you learned about yourself throughout your career?
Mainly that I love shooting and telling stories with the medium of film. I love the pressure and responsibility that comes with being on a film set, I seem to thrive of it in fact. I’ve learnt I’m a good collaborator and love getting the best out of the best crew. I’m good at finding creative solutions to problems that arise whilst shooting and remaining calm if/when the shit hits the fan - this, I have learnt to be incredibly important in the world of commercials. Ultimately you want the best film, but there is a client and meeting your needs somehow needs to meet theirs also.
What excites you the most about your work?
That’s a hard one! There are so many aspects of the process that I love. Working with actors is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job and having acted a lot myself (as a teenager) I have huge respect and appreciation for what they bring to a project. The moments in which the camera is running can be such a rush as it’s the only time every element comes to life and works together revealing what’s been living in your head for so long. I love geeking out over cameras and optics and operating them is something I do on every one of my shoots. I get excited about harnessing the power of a camera and telling a story through moving them. Learning more about this on each project is also something I find really rewarding. I’m always learning basically, each time solving a new problem and trying to tell the most compelling story possible with the tools you have.
Any new projects in the near future you'd like to shed some light on?
I’m about to start work on an interesting car project that has a very technical almost Sci Fi element to it and will be exciting from an art direction and camera point of view. I’m also in pre-production for a short film called ‘Skimming’ about three youngsters that get more than they bargained for while skimming stones.