Spike Jonze awarded for Most Awkward Non-Interview

The Disruptors series might have taken itself a little too literally in today’s interview with skater-turned-music-clip-maker-turned-Oscar-nominated-film director Spike Jonze. The entire interview format was disrupted to the point that Sapient Nitro’s CCO Gaston Legorburu never actually asked a question.

Jonze tried his best to hold up his end of the conversation, but was eventually forced to hand interviewing duties over to the audience, who wanted to know how his approach had changed since the early days (hardly at all), what impact social media had played (none, beyond a culture blog for “Where The Wild Things Are”) and what new technologies he was most excited by (Occulus Rift).

It was difficult to sit through, exacerbated by the fact that Jonze is a cult favourite amongst the creative set and this talk was highly anticipated, but eventually we scraped a few insights from the man before the whole thing was shut down by the Cannes MC in the interests of time (and sanity):

1. Bring in outside opinions throughout the process: Jonze said he always ‘put off’ having screenings of works in process, but the feedback always made the project better.

2. The best stories give the audience room to interpret: it’s important that you create space for the audience to construct their own relationship with the work. Jonze singled out Chris Milk’s ‘The Wilderness Downtown’ as a particularly inspiring example of this kind of work, and also a good demonstration of the creativity that technology can enable.

3. Make ‘story bricks’ that can go together in different ways. This was particularly true for his movie ‘Adaptation’ which he shot knowing the pieces “could go together in a million different ways”. The edit process then becomes a way to truly discover the story you want to tell. In the case of Adaptation, a process that took a little over 13 months.

4. Understanding the creative vision is critical. Jonze admitted that he was offered the script for the epic Sony “Coloured balls” TVC but passed on it because “I just didn’t get it.” That remains his personal test for projects he works on and, crucially, people he chooses to collaborate with.

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