Heartland Interviews: KIRK JONES

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KIRK JONES graduated from Newport Film School in 1987 after winning a national student film competition. He started to work for London-based production company BFCS as an assistant film editor, but continued to write and direct his own films in his spare time.

He collected a Silver at the Creative Circle awards for his Mercedes test commercial in 1990 and was invited to join Xenium productions as a director. After winning an award for his Absolut vodka commercial, which he wrote and directed, he started to direct commercials full time in Europe and in the U.S.

In 1991, Jones joined producer Glynis Murray at the newly formed Tomboy Films and continued to direct commercials for clients including Coca-Cola, Reebok, The National Lottery and McDonalds.

He won awards at the Creative Circle, British Television Awards, NABS and, in 1996, was awarded the Silver Lion at Cannes.

Jones wrote and directed his first feature film Waking Ned Devine in 1998 with a budget of $3 million. The film went on to gross almost $90 million worldwide with awards in the U.S. and Europe including New York Comedy Film Festival (Best Feature) Comedy D’alp, France (Grand Jury Prize and Critics Prize), Guild of German Cinema (Gold Award, Best Feature), Paris Film Festival (Audience Award), Golden Satellite Awards (Best Motion Picture nomination) and BAFTA (Most Promising Newcomer nomination).

After Waking Ned Devine, he returned to writing and developing his own film projects and continued to direct commercials.

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Kirk Jones, director of Nanny McPhee and Waking Ned Devine, had these words to say about his most Truly Moving Picture:

“Top of my list has to be Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t become emotionally involved in it.

“The full length ‘Directors cut’ is a masterpiece and tells the story of a boy who is befriended by a film projectionist in a beautiful cinema on a tiny Greek island. The boy develops an interest in films and is encouraged by the projectionist to leave the island and venture into the big wide world where he eventually becomes a film director in his own right. After hearing of the projectionist’s death years later, he returns to the island and meets the characters who were so familiar to him as a child, all older, all struggling to survive in a modern world which has spoilt the intimate community which they once enjoyed.

“The film moves me more than most because I remember very clearly a point in my youth when I realized it was time to leave the community in which I grew up. I’m also familiar with the experience of returning to that small community and seeing wonderful characters from my childhood, their wonderful faces still recognizable to me even though 30 years have passed.

“The fact that I left my village and became a film director, a very unexpected and at the time unlikely choice of career, helps me to connect to the film emotionally, even more.”

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