Jonathan Glazer, Academy

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After some time away devoted to longform pursuits, Jonathan Glazer has returned to commercials in style-with a new Stella Artois gem that features men of the cloth acting on unholy impulses, and a deliciously enigmatic conclusion. The spot adds another stylistic layer to the Glazer beer oeuvre, which includes previous Stella epics "Last Orders" and "Devil's Island," and the Guinness jaw droppers, "Swimblack," "Dreamer" and of course an amusing little seaside number called "Surfer." The beer work itself is just part of a reel, when surveyed now represents this generation's landmark ad and music video work-littered with assorted stunners like Wrangler's "Whatever You Ride," Levi's "Odyssey," and the Unkle "Rabbit in Your Headlights" and Radiohead "Street Spirit" videos.

The latest Stella entry from Lowe/London, in beautiful black and white, sees a gaggle of clergymen of varying rank, engaging in-what else-a skate around the pond and a quest for some premium beer. Of course things go pear shaped when the young beer fetcher falls through the ice before delivering the goods, leading to some non Church-sanctioned behavior on the part of the thirsty priests, more concerned with saving the bottles of precious brew than their brother. The spot has the usual Glazer touches-gorgeous film, stirring music, and lots of room for imagination. Those elements traveled well into the long form realm-Glazer is one of the few commercials directors who has sustained the level of his work into features, segueing from the British made instant cult classic Sexy Beast to Hollywood with the beautiful and weird Birth. Currently, Glazer is working on the upcoming Palm Pictures DVD retrospective of his work and his third feature. He took time out to answer a few questions from Creativity.

C: What made you take on a new Stella job? Obviously you have a history there, but why did this new one interest you?

G: Vince Squibb is a great writer and the client's smart, so it's a pleasure doing a job like this. When he told me it was about ice-skating priests, I was into the idea straight away. The story then went through a number of drafts until we ended up with something we both liked.

C: Can you talk about some of your choices on the spot, for example, the music ? You worked with Peter Raeburn, a collaborator on other great spots. What were some of the musical directions you considered and how did this track come about?

G: From the outset, we talked about Leitmotif, recurring themes. I wanted to avoid dialog and have music explain the characters instead. That's how we ended up where we did. Pete's work is very significant in all my stuff. He brings a whole other layer.

C: Did the script start out either more slapstick-given skating priests, or darker than the spot ended up? It's a great balance between the potentially horrific and the funny and the sophisticated.

G: A bunch of priests having a whip-round for a drink is funny, so I was always led by that. Once we felt we'd achieved that, we tried and push it further in a different direction. I do that until I'm thrilled by something which makes it new again. Music, for instance. I'm always fascinated by co-existing opposites.

C:The great look that the main, instigator priest gives the big boss at the end-what did you want it to say?

G: I was loathe to sum him up neatly. I didn't really know how to. So the last shot kind of says, "We are what we are."

C: What do you think about advertising in general-does it really gets through to people watching?

G: Well I know I respond to anything that feels like I'm not being bullshitted to. So I do everything from that position in the hope that other people feel the same.

C: Your DVD work retrospective is coming up. Can you talk about the experience of putting it together. What jumped out at you as you went over all your work?

G: I set out only to include pieces I really liked but that totaled three, so I've bunged in all the B-sides as padding. Overall, I'd say I wish I'd made more videos.

C: I read that the idea for Birth just sort of came to you one day. Is it just instinct that causes you to pursue some ideas to the end and not others?

G: I don't know about that. I'm looking for something which will always interest me. Not just for the length of time it takes to make. I'm looking for something fertile. A question nagging at the back of my mind makes me want to explore it. To give voice to it somehow.

C: Where is Chaos in the production process-when is that coming out?

G: I don't know because I'm not involved. I never really was. I'm busy writing a film with Milo Addica which we aim to shoot in summer 2006.

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