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Palm Has a Jonze for New Video Series

28 Feb, 2003 By: Joan Villa

Before Spike Jonze directed the quirky and acclaimed Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, his originality and humor first surfaced in music videos and other projects that can now be seen together for the first time.

A new directors' series of three DVDs from Palm Pictures will spotlight Jonze's past work and the music videos, commercials and short films that defined two other ground-breaking directors: Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham.

The series will launch in August, packed with special features such as interviews, storyboards, alternate versions, documentaries and commentaries that will give special insight into the directors' styles, according to Palm Pictures' general manager Paul DeGooyer. Domestic home video distribution will be handled by WEA.

“We've been looking for ways to narrate new music projects in the DVD format,” said DeGooyer, who is one of the developers of the series that will eventually grow to include other directors. “We were looking to have an exciting music-driven project that also suggests what the ultimate music DVD can be.”

Music stars such as The Beastie Boys, for example, will discuss the music video process and unique style that Jonze brought to directing their video for “Sabotage,” while Bjork can address both Jonze's vision in her acrobatic song-and-dance video for “It's Oh So Quiet” as well as her work with Gondry and Cunningham on several other song projects.

“These guys have done videos for the best people in the business,” DeGooyer noted. “There's a huge base of people out there who are fans of these directors, and there's an untapped audience for music video. It's an art form in and of itself, but until now there was no way for consumers to get it, take it home and watch it when they want to.”

In addition to releasing films and DVDs, Palm Pictures is also a music company, with its own record label that markets to music and video retailers, continually promoting its projects to keep them in the public spotlight. For Scratch, the Doug Pray documentary on hip-hop, for example, sales grew after MTV2 aired one of the disc's extras for a special “hip-hop weekend” months after the title's original release, DeGooyer said. Palm will give the directors' series the same major launch, but will follow with similar “opportunistic” marketing to promote the DVDs' special features.

“This is not the typical approach to home video releasing,” he explained. “With Scratch, we tried to release the ultimate edition with enough depth in terms of compelling extras so that when people get it, there's a secondary wave of word-of-mouth. We find if you have something that's truly great but not obvious, it's hard to explain in one sentence -- it has to build over time.”

This series of “ultimate extras discs” show off DVD's ability to randomly access features that consumers could only watch in a linear fashion on VHS, and appeal to both film buffs and music fans who are perusing the rental aisles for something new, DeGooyer added.

The prices of the DVDs will be set when all the bonus features are decided, but will not exceed the mid-$20 range, he said.

Possible material includes Jonze's award-winning Fatboy Slim video for “Weapon of Choice” and Weezer's video for “Buddy Holly.” French-born Gondry is known for visually ground-breaking music videos, commercials and feature work, including the film Human Nature. As a former drummer, he collaborated with Bjork on “Human Behavior” and directed The Rolling Stones' “Like a Rolling Stone,” Beck's “Deadweight” and Radiohead's “Knives Out.”

Cunningham, a multiple MTV-award winner, has tackled provocative and disturbing subjects portraying fear and desire, DeGooyer said. He is best known for Aphex Twin's “Come to Daddy,” Bjork's “All Is Full of Love” and Portishead's “Only You.”

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