Back in 1999, Channel 4 aired Mirrorball a TV series that showcased the best promo directing talent across the globe. Two series and one animation special were made, featuring the talents of Spike Jonze, Mike Mills, Michel Gondry, Jonathan Glazer, Jonas Akerlund and Chris Cunningham. Each program was dedicated to one director, with an interview, a selection of their work, and a specially filmed insert (from Gondry drumming to Glazer mucking around with actor Paul Kay - aka Dennis Pennis). Mirrorball was an instant hit and has gone on to become a cult TV classic since the series was cancelled in 2001.
Inspired by Edinburgh Film Festival’s Mirrorball screenings, the offshoot TV series was a collaboration between the Festival’s David Smith and Blackwatch Media, under producer and director, Nicola Black. As Black explained to Dangerous Minds:
“It was a fantastic opportunity to bring together groundbreaking directors and treat their work seriously, for the first time. We wanted to reveal the process behind these incredible pieces of work, which used cutting edge technology and post production techniques to achieve startling and unforgettable visuals to tell brilliant stories. You have to remember, this was way before any of these directors had made their names in movies.
Black started out as an intern working with Derek Jarman, before moving on to directing and producing. She set up her company in 1995, making an internationally acclaimed documentary on crime writer James Ellroy’s search for his Mother’s murderer. Since then, Black has made a variety of award-winning shows, animations and “hard-hitting” documentaries, and started the trend in “shock docs” with Designer Vaginas.
“Mirrorball was a great series to make, not only in terms of the breadth of creative work shown, but also by the fact it gave insight into the early works of film-makers Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek, who went on to make One Hour Photo, Michel Gondry, who made Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Jonathan Glazer, who directed the brilliant Sexy Beast.”
There were many great highlights to choose from the Mirrorball series (including Jonze’s superb short film How They Got There, Gondry’s genius work with Massive Attack & Daft Punk, Glazer’s collaborations with Radiohead, Akerlund’s Smack My Bitch Up and Mills promos for Air), but we’ve gone for a selection from Chris Cunningham’s work, whose promos for Aphex Twin (aka genius Richard David James) are amongst some of the most original and disturbing ever made. Enjoy!