Ian Pons Jewell has worked with some of the coolest artists in the industry, we’re talking the super edgy; Paolo Nutini wants to be / is now a ‘cool popstar’ understandably distancing himself from his ‘New Shoes’ image of eight (yes eight!) years ago. This my friends is a match made in heaven. Music video has become the perfect platform for story telling and has its champions, Ian is one such champion always pleasing both our brains and eyes leading up nicely to ‘One Day’ and a Joanna Lumley no one could have expected. This blend of classic and contemporary is exactly why we started Word Is Cheap, so we asked Ian and co-writing collaborator Dobi Manalova whether ‘Iron Sky‘ added any pressure, what the gold string represents and everything about Joanna Lumley.
Word Is Cheap: With Daniel Wolfe’s ‘Iron Sky’ being the force it is, did you feel under any pressure to deliver?
Ian Pons Jewell: Ha good question… the script was actually written back in March, so I didn’t have a sense of this pressure when I first heard the track. I didn’t know too much about his image or music until getting the track, so I think this helped with forming the idea, it was a really blank canvas for me to work from. The video was put on hold, and then Iron Sky came out months later which was simply incredible. I’d never seen a music video like it. It did add some pressure but in a good way, it inspired me and gave me confidence in Paolo’s tastes as an artist, seeing that he was really pushing out of his previous style. I think a sense of pressure to deliver is important, and I am always pushing to do the best I can and step it up each time. So it was nice to read an email from my mate Stephen Agnew of XXX, after seeing the video, calling me a “bar raising bastard”. Haha…
What came first the idea or Joanna Lumley? Perfect casting by the way!
The idea came first, but I now can’t imagine it with anyone else! It was Paolo Nutini that actually first suggested her and we’re all big fans of Joanna Lumley so the producers and the commissioner Dan Curwin worked hard behind the scenes to get her on board. When she accepted it was the most surreal news I’ve ever had. She’d just been directed by Scorcese. I was quite nervous up until the shoot, as I usually am with every shoot I do, but once we got the first shot it was thoroughly enjoyable, she was a total sweetheart, and ridiculously talented. The rest of the casting was by an incredible casting director called Lauren Hedges, she really got under the skin of the story and brought amazing characters to the table.
How was Joanna on set?
She was incredible! Brought an amazing energy to the whole set, with the whole crew falling for her!
The concept keeps you thinking, can you explain the gold string?
He is making a cat’s cradle, but the string is attached to the beautiful girl on the other side of the room, he’s trying to ensare her like a fish. The cat’s cradle has a long history in different cultures, used artistically, as a game but also by tribal leaders to better illustrate their stories. So it’s a form of communication, and I liked the idea of it being used in a kind of black magic sense, with him trying to communicate or indoctrinate her before being caught by her worried husband. The man to his side is a newbie who he’s taken under his wing, learning the ropes (excuse the pun). He’s scared by the whole situation, nervous about this new partnership, which is why he’s sweating so profusely.
Red dominates what was the thinking behind this?
It’s just such a perfect colour. For this video it just works so well for it, especially in pushing the Giallo film style, which plays with a lot of reds, blues and greens.
You’re known to be a story-teller, how did it work on this particular project co-writting with Dobi Manolova?
Ian: Dobi is a close friend as well as collaborator, so it was perfect. She is the first person I send my ideas and writings to, she works with me on most of my treatments too doing the image research. We have co-written before for a pitch which was unfortunately not picked, based on her initial idea. So it wasn’t a new thing. It’s a perfect match when we work together because we have such similar creative sensibitlies I think, as well as very distinct ones! After coming up with the initial idea of this older singer killing young girls to steal their youth, we worked together in co-writing all the characters. It was perfect!
Dobi: It’s a pleasure when we work together, it comes naturally and there’s no forcing ideas or trying to artificially write something out of nothing. It’s great to bounce off someone who truly understands what’s on your mind, it creates wonderful details, brings the narrative to life and gives it a unique personality, which is very important for the story. It doesn’t feel like work, it’s just something we do anyway. You can’t just put two people in a room, even if they are the greatest writers or directors, and get them to write together unless they share some sort of imagination.