MARK PELLINGTON is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles.
Mark Pellington is originally from Baltimore, Maryland.
Mark Pellington 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 Pellington’s early work.
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.
In 1988, Mark Pellington developed an idea for a non-linear collage program.
Created in partnership with MTV Europe producer/director Jon Klein, BUZZ was an ambitious 13-part global series commissioned by MTV and channel 4 (UK). Hailed by critics as progressive adventurous television, it was the culmination of Pellington’s aesthetic and MTV career.
Upon completing BUZZ, Mark refined his unique personal vision through a series of TV and video projects.
Mark Pellington becomes 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 performers as U2, Bruce Springsteen, Public Enemy and Alice in Chains, form a prolific and often imitated body of work.
A piece for INXS, entitled “Beautiful Girl,” is a provocative visual essay on the female body that garnered a Grammy nomination.
With his video for the Jungle Brothers’ “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” 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.
Mark 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 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 came to terms with his father’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
This intense, impressionistic diary film was screened at the Berlin, Montreal and Rotterdam Film Festivals and was praised by critics worldwide.
THE UNITED STATES OF POETRY was a five-part series for PBS that took a year-and-a-half to complete. In the program, Pellington takes the viewer on a cross-country journey through end-of-the-century America, guided by 72 poets and spoken word artists. A kaleidoscopic portrait of America, the series captured the moment and will last as an artifact of a turbulent but hopeful time.
In 1997, MARK Pellington’s feature film debut, Going All the Way, premieres at the Sundance Film Festival and is then released by Gramercy Pictures.
Starring Ben Affleck and Jeremy Davies, the movie received accolades and firmly planted Mark on the Hollywood radar.
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.
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.
The movie established Mark’s ability to work with A-list actors and saw his unique creative vision expand. 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, the film starred Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Alan Bates and Debra Messing. It proved that Mark was adept at handling complex set pieces and special effects.
That fall, he directed “Lonesome Day”, Bruce Springsteen’s premiere video from his acclaimed album, The Rising.
Other video highlights included clips for The Flaming Lips, Nine Inch Nails, Kings of Leon and Dave Matthews.
In the spring of 2003, Mark moveD 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 direct commercials, shooting campaigns for Subaru, Lowe’s, Honda and Cingular – the latter a collaboration with Savion Glover.
In March of ’06, 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. Nine 3D HD cameras were used to bring the visual spectacle to life. The film was released in 3D in theaters and IMAX in the spring of 2008.
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 stars Luke Wilson, Rahda Mitchell, and Adriana Barraza. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released by Overture Films in the Fall of 2008.
In early 2009, Pellington directed the CBS pilot, BACK, an intense mystery featuring Skeet Ulrich as a man returning home after disappearing in the tragedy of 9-11.
Mark Pellington continues 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 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 film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and Magnolia Pictures released the film in December 2011.
In 2012, he directed the pilot, “Red Widow” starring Radha Mitchell and written by Melissa Rosenberg about one woman’s dangerous journey into the world of organized crime. The show aired on ABC in March 2013.
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 the beginning to 2013, Pellington paired with 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. In addition, Pellington received exposure for his 10 minute short film HONESTY, based on a David Whyte poem
At the end of the year, Pellington directed COCAINE COWBOYS, a pilot for the TNT Network written by Michelle Ashford and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay.
In early 2015, Pellington directed the pilot BLINDSPOT, an action thriller for NBC, produced by Greg Berlanti, now a successful TV series. Pellington remained as an Executive Producer as well as directing three additional episodes.
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, and a series of commercials 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 taped 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 the piece. It 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 Prolificproduced 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.