MARK PELLINGTON is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles.
Mark Pellington is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, he attended the University of Virginia, receiving a B.A. in Rhetoric in 1984. Upon graduation, Pellington joined MTV’s award-winning On-Air Promotions Department, where he created short conceptual spots, editing original footage with found sound and images.
This groundbreaking work in collage and sound/image/text juxtaposition became the primary focus of his early work, leading to the creation of an ambitious 13-part global series, “Buzz” with MTV Europe producer/director Jon Klein. Commissioned by MTV and channel 4 (UK), “Buzz” was hailed by critics as progressive, adventurous television.
While at MTV, he branched out as a freelance music video director shooting clips for Information Society, Malcolm McLaren, and De La Soul. He also ventured into the art world, collaborating on text image pieces with New York gallery artist Jenny Holzer and William Burroughs.
Upon completing Buzz, Mark refined his unique personal vision through a series of TV and video projects.
Mark Pellington became internationally recognized as one of the world’s premiere music video directors.
His video for Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” is one of the most popular in history, as well as one of the most honored. It earned him Best Director at the 1992 Billboard Video Music Awards, and picked up four 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Director and Video of the Year.
His videos for such noted rock, pop, and rap performers as U2, Pearl Jam, Michael Jackson, Linkin Park, Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains, The Dave Matthews Band, Demi Lovato, Public Enemy, INXS, The Flaming Lips, The Fray, Jason Mraz, Cage The Elephant, Kid Rock, Band of Horses, Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Information Society, De La Soul, and many others form a prolific and often imitated body of work.
Jungle Brothers - I Get A Kick Out Of You,”
With this video, Pellington joined Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, and Jonathan Demme as one of the elite group of directors chosen for Red, Hot & Blue, a landmark AIDS special shown on ABC.
Pellington brought his media manipulation techniques to stadiums around the world when he helped create the multi-screen image environment for U2’s highly acclaimed “Zoo TV” tour.
He also served as creative director on an experimental multi-media project for the Spanish exhibition at World Expo ‘92 in Seville, Spain. “The Memory Palace” was a five-screen live-action/film evocation of cyberspace made in collaboration with science fiction writer William Gibson, and musicians Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel.
Outside of the music world, Mark Pellington develops his eye for documentary and narrative films.
Words In Your Face, a half-hour film he created for PBS’s prestigious series Alive From Off Center, anticipated the current appeal of spoken word poetry. A half-hour television poem, Words featured John Leguizamo, KRS-ONE and Henry Rollins.
He also wrapped “Red Hot & Dance” and collaborated with Obie-award winning director David Gordon and music producer Hal Willner on a half-hour live action cartoon called “Punch and Judy Get Divorced” for PBS.
In 1993 he created his most personal work to date, a 30-minute film for PBS, called Father’s Daze, in which he comes to terms with his father’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Pellington’s 1997 feature film debut, “Going All the Way,”
starring Jeremy Davies and Ben Affleck, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and was released by Gramercy Pictures.
Next, he directed Destination Anywhere, an experimental short film for MTV, starring Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Bon Jovi and Kevin Bacon.
That fall, he directed James Earl Jones in an episode of the dramatic television series Homicide. Pellington also created the opening title sequence for the acclaimed television series.
Mark Pellington directs his second feature film, Arlington Road.
Screen Gems released the controversial political thriller, starring Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins, in the summer of 1999. Following the release of Arlington Road, Pellington was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Music Video Producers’ Association.
He stayed true to his documentary and experimental roots when he directed Of Time and Memory, an impressionistic adaptation of Don Snyder’s novel. The half hour lyrical documentary depicts Snyder’s struggle to reconstruct the identity of his mother, who died shortly after his birth. The film aired on the Independent Film Channel in the spring of 2002.
Mark Pellington’s third feature, the cult favorite The Mothman Prophecies, arrived in the winter of 2002.
A cerebral, paranormal thriller, Mothman starred Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Alan Bates and Debra Messing.
Other video highlights included clips for Nine Inch Nails, Kings of Leon and Dave Matthews.
In the spring of 2003, Mark moves into the world of network television.
He directed the pilot episode of CBS’ Cold Case, a one-hour series Executive Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. He served as a Consulting Producer overseeing the visual look of the top rated show for 4 years. A highlight was the January ’06 episode entitled “8 Years” in which Cold Case producers were able to license nine Bruce Springsteen songs. Springsteen very rarely licenses his music and his relationship with Mark was an integral part of his decision.
In 2005, Mark Pellington’s video for the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” was nominated for two prestigious awards, Best Rock Video and Best Editing, at the MTV Music Awards.
That year, Pellington also Executive Produced a documentary called "Our Town" by director Scott Kennedy. It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.
He continued to work commercially, shooting campaigns for Subaru, Lowe’s, Honda and Cingular – a collaboration with Savion Glover.
In 2006, Mark traveled to South America to direct the U2 3D concert film.
A longtime collaborator with Bono and U2, Pellington and co-director, Catherine Owens, broke new cinematic ground for both cameras and technology. The film was released in 3D in theaters and IMAX.
2007 included the video for The Fray’s: "How To Save A Life" which was awarded Adult Contemporary Video of the Year by the MVPA.
In the summer of ‘2007 Mark Pellington directed his fourth feature, “Henry Poole is Here”.
A personal, uplifting story about hope and faith, the film starred Luke Wilson, Radha Mitchell, and Adriana Barraza. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released by Overture Films in 2008.
Mark Pellington continued his legacy with a trio of artistic videos, for indie-rock sensation Alpha Rev, Grammy-nominated mainstay Moby, and Grammy winners The Fray.
His video “Skyscraper” for Demi Lovato won the MTV award for Best Video With A Message in 2012.
Other award winning videos for Kid Rock, Michael Jackson, and Jason Mraz, further cemented his reputation as a master stylist.
Mark’s 5th feature film was “I Melt With You,”
starring Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, and Christian McKay as four friends who make a life-altering pact in college and are forced to confront it 25 years later. This controversial and daring film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Magnolia Pictures later that year.
Also in Fall 2012, NBC and Bruckheimer TV again teamed with Pellington to produce the pilot “Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives” written by Sasha Penn.
In 2013, Pellington paired with Fox Studios and Homeland’s Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa, and Alex Cary to direct the CBS pilot “Anatomy of Violence” starring Skeet Ulrich and Amber Tamblyn about a maverick FBI criminal psychiatrist with an expertise in sociopaths.
Always searching to explore new narrative directions and experimental digital content avenues, 2014 was creatively fertile, with the digital release on iTUNES of LONE, Pellington's strikingly ambitious 57 minute abstract music film for the musical artist, Chelsea Wolfe.
He also continued directing high end commercials for GMC and United Health and award winning music videos for Bear Hands, Cage the Elephant, Linkin Park and a new series of evocative gun control PSA short films.
Pellington’s short film project, Honesty, is inspired by poet David Whyte’s liberating essay of the same name. Dealing with loss, powerlessness and fear, the work is more akin to a performance art piece, with 32 individuals invited to participate in an emotional purge and emancipation of grief. Here Pellington discusses what inspired him to interpret Whyte’s thesis.
“The words written by David blew me away. They don't preach but they speak their own beliefs in a very strong and challenging way. Each person was cast randomly having no knowledge of the essay. They were only asked if they had experienced loss. They entered the room four at a time and were asked to simply walk forward, stand in front of the camera and listen to the soundtrack–the poem read by David accompanied by Jeff Rona’s sound design and score.
It was a beguiling and odd experiment. I had spent so much creative energy in the past 10 years exploring grief after the death of my wife and my mother. By seeing fresh grief and the processing of trauma in these subjects, some very raw, it aided me in reflecting on the universality of this deep feel-ing, and hence made me less isolated, less selfish, more compassionate and empathetic. It was freeing.
I've thought of releasing the footage as Honesty singles, to let the entire experience wash over you. Not a Warhol type of endurance film, but certainly three minutes of pure processing, seeing the shifts people took listening to the powerful words.”
The end of the year saw Pellington direct COCAINE COWBOYS, a pilot for the TNT Network written by Michelle Ashford and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay.
The beginning of 2015 saw the creation of Pellington’s latest TV success. BLINDSPOT, an action thriller for NBC, produced by Greg Berlanti, was a high profile pilot which is now a successful TV series. Pellington remained as an Executive Producer for the first season as well as directing 3 additional episodes. The series has continued it’s growth and has begun shooting season two in 2016 with Pellington still as an Executive Producer.
While Pellington had a busy year in television he continued his passion in directing compelling music videos. These included directing grammy-nominated band Silversun Pickups for their single “Nightlight”, hard rock band Three Days Grace for their single “Human Race”, and an up and coming Norwegian pop talent MIIA for her international hit “Dynasty”.
Pellington continued his passion in directing compelling music videos, including directing grammy-nominated band Silversun Pickups for their single “Nightlight”, hard rock band Three Days Grace for their single “Human Race”, and an up and coming Norwegian pop talent MIIA for her international hit “Dynasty”.
Pellington began 2016 with the start of his sixth feature film, THE LAST WORD starring Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried. The Last Word was produced by Pellington and Myriad Pictures and distributed by Bleecker Street in early 2017. The year ended shooting the feature film NOSTALGIA, a meditative drama written by Alex Ross Perry, and starring Jon Hamm, Ellen Burstyn, Nick Offerman, Catherine Keener, James LeGros and Bruce Dern. The film was released on February 16th, 2018.
In early 2018, Pellington returned to NBC to direct THE ENEMY WITHIN, a pilot starring Jennifer Carpenter and Morris Chestnut, which was picked up for the fall season. He also shot an 11-minute music film for the Grammy Award-winning band Imagine Dragons new single "Next to Me," and a branded content short film featuring the NFL's Tom Brady for Aston Martin. Pellington teamed up again with pop superstar Demi Lovato to direct the music video for her song "Tell Me You Love Me." He just wrapped production in Miami on a music video for Damian Marley.
Leaning again into his love of the experimental, Pellington directed an art film called "Fly" for Minnesota noise masters LOW, as well as a series of commercials for clients including ITVS. He also explored the role of self-image in his music video for Flora Cash, “Somebody Else.”
2019 introduced new avenues of opportunity for Pellington to stretch and explore new genres, allowing him to continue to show his unique style and work to new audiences, platforms and emerging mediums.
Executive Producer ALEX KURTZMANN tapped Pellington to direct two short films for the popular STAR TREK series called TREK SHORTS on CBS ALL ACCESS. ‘Q & A”, written by acclaimed novelist MICHAEL CHABON is a humorous and charming 14 minute chamber piece starring Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck. The silent visual drama “CHILDREN OF MARS” is a 13 minute emotional tour de force story with a haunting perspective on the relationship between violence and childhood innocence, written by KURTZMANN and JENNY LUMET. Both pieces are presently streaming.
He also decided to cap off his successful relationship to NBC hit drama BLINDSPOT, and was tapped to direct the Season 5 series opener. He followed off with 3 videos for metal mavens SACRED REICH.
After completing his last narrative film NOSTALGIA in 2018, Pellington also wanted to return to his roots and explore slightly more visceral experimental ways to tell stories, create emotion, and challenge and connect to audiences. A lover of big screen cinema but realistic about the changing landscape, two brand new pieces came from small screen roots but have large screen ambitions.
THE SEVERING is a feature length (80 minutes) dance film, a cathartic global movement film created with the brilliant choreographer NINA McNEELY (Gaspar Noe’s CLIMAX) and rising Dutch cinematographer ANN EVELIN LAWFORD. Inspired by the Wenders film PINA, Pellington was interested in expressing feelings and emotions through a 'story of movement and text, rather than plot, capturing emotion and physicality on an experiential but non-linear narrative level. The film is near completion of rough cut. The hope is to premiere at a festival and sell the film and reach people with it’s exquisite dance and imagery.
As the culture shifts and digital reality spreads, content is rampant. Pellington has been active in that multi-platform area for many years but continued his output of new work in Spring of 2019.
Pellington stated, mid 2019—
“Artistic freedom is abundant, as are the tools to capture it. So for me, as my prolific nature rises, the need to make films cheaper has become the mantra, as has the role of social media in casting. The marketplace dictates the bottom-line distribution nightmare, so my artistic creativity reacted in kind and thus, creative exploration and new ways of telling stories emerged.”
NIGHTWALKERS is a short film , and features ALFIE ALLEN of GAME OF THRONES, Riverdale star MADELAINE PETSCH, and film icon PETER BOGDONAVICH in a 30 minute sci-fi allegory. It is experimental and is a meta-fiction narrative exploration of image, voyeurism, and accountability. Pellington’s new vision called Prolific produced and made the poetic piece on a shoe string with a beautiful look. He hopes to hit the festivals in 2020, in order to secure distribution.
The end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 also brought forth an exciting and ambitious new commercial project. SURVIVE is a 13 part serialized narrative, produced for Jeffrey Katzenberg’s ambitious new mobile app QUIBI. The intense story of a young girl overcoming traumatic obstacles in both nature and her personal life, SURVIVE is an epic tale of intimacy and action, starring SOPHIE TURNER and COREY HAWKINS. Produced by Cary Granat and Gunpowder & Sky, this series and subsequent film will premiere on QUIBI in 2020. This is a commercially minded story, which blends Pellington’s strengths and styles, and will hopefully open new doors when it is released on screens everywhere in the next 18 months.
Pellington neared completion of SURVIVE, while ramping up a variety of narrative, doc and short form projects for the new year. As well, he is completing his initial foray into the book world, authoring a visual memoir called THE VISUALIST: NARRATIVE AND IMAGE 1983-2020.
A process memoir, the book is a visual narrative encompassing his experiences, process, anecdotes and images of a career working in multi-mediums. If all shakes out, the book will be published by Brooklyn-based powerhouse books through Random House in 2021.
In the meantime, his new creative offshoot Prolific will continue to develop innovative projects with his trusted collaborators in order to facilitate his desire to create personal work in all arenas of creative expression.
PELLINGTON FILMS IS AN ARTIST DRIVEN COMPANY
Pellington Films is focused on creating meaningful and thought-provoking work on all platforms, and to continue to collaborate with artists to produce personal digital and theatrical content.
Mark Pellington is represented by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment for film and television, Washington Square Films for commercials and Hound for music videos. He develops features, television projects, and content for the digital arena.