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Ridley Scott Creative Group’s RSA Films and Black Dog Films welcome back celebrated filmmaker Jonas Åkerlund for US representation. Repped by RSA and Black Dog UK for over a decade, the move to Ridley Scott’s stateside moniker streamlines Åkerlund’s opportunities across commercials, content, music videos, music documentaries and other disciplines. Åkerlund is already working on his first job there, a music project with Paul McCartney. This follows the May debut of Åkerland’s hit Netflix series “Clark” (Bill Skarsgård), which he both wrote and directed, about Swedish gangster Clark Olofsson who is renowned for making the term Stockholm syndrome famous. The New York Times called “Clark” “audacious, distinctive and energetic” and Rotten Tomatoes said it was “a blast and a half, insanely hilarious, and at times a chaotic fever dream of a biopic that always zigs when you expect it to zag.”
One of the advertising and music industry’s most prolific directors who is often sought out by A-list celebrities, Åkerlund’s credits include commercials for brands such as Lexus, Target, Cadillac, Calvin Klein, Dior, VW, H&M, IKEA and L’oréal, to note a few; and music videos for many iconic artists – Madonna, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Ozzy Osbourne, The Rolling Stones, Pussy Riot, The Struts, Metallica, Sigur Rós, Maroon 5, Coldplay, Taylor Swift and many others. Among his commercial honors, a Cannes Grand Prix and Gold Lion. And he’s won over 20 MTV VMA awards, including Video of the Year and four others for Madonna’s unparalleled “Ray of Light” video, and Best Dance Video for The Prodigy’s renowned “Smack My Bitch Up” promo.
Åkerlund’s Live Kisses (2014) for Paul McCartney won a Grammy Award for Best Music Film, and marked his third Grammy win - his first, Best Short Form Music Video for Madonna “Ray of Light” and a decade later another for Best Long Form Music Video for Madonna: The Confessions Tour Live from London. Åkerlund has also directed six features, including Polar, the Netflix neo-noir thriller with Mads Mikkelsen and Vanessa Hudgens; indie film Lords of Chaos, the grim real-life story of a Norwegian black-metal band starring Rory Culkin which premiered at Sundance; and Small Apartments, an indie comedy with Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, Johnny Knoxville and James Caan.
“Jonas is someone I’ve always admired and hoped to work with,” commented Luke Ricci, President of RSA Films US. “It’s an honor that he’s re-joining the roster of RSA US and I’m incredibly excited about the current projects we are working on both in the branded and music spaces.”
“I’m already with RSA and Black Dog in the UK and Europe, and really love working with Kai [Hsiung, Global MD],” Åkerlund said. “Ridley, Jake, and Luke Scott have always been supportive. And when I met Luke Ricci, that was a game changer. Talking with him, Kai and the team in the US office made it feel like the most natural thing in the world to come back to RSA in the states. I’ve done commercials throughout my career and I still love them. Music videos I am happy to do forever. I directed six movies and now the Netflix series, ‘Clark.’ I’ve learned a lot. I have more confidence now writing and working with actors in longer-format. It’s weird. I’ve done all these things, but it literally feels like I’m starting now. I have so much more I want to do.”
Åkerlund is in post production on a Billy Idol documentary. And he is directing a dance film of “DuEls,” a performance choreographed by the renowned Damien Jalet where groundbreaking contemporary dance meets artist Gustav Vigeland’s classic sculptures.
Åkerlund said he gravitates toward brand and agency clients who want to be creative partners, are open-minded and want to push the envelope. “It’s the same in music videos,” he added. “All the artists I work with love being pulled out of their comfort zone but still understand their DNA. And every time they do it, they want to make it their best ever.”