1 June 1955 |
Annabel Jankel is an English film and TV director who first came to prominence as a music video director and the co-creator and director of the pioneering cyber-character Max Headroom. She is the sister of musician and songwriter Chaz Jankel, who is best known as a member of the British new wave band Ian Dury & The Blockheads.
She started her career in the late 1970s at the UK-based film production company Cucumber Studios which she founded with her partner - fellow director Rocky Morton. Jankel and Morton specialized in creating music videos, TV commercials and TV title sequences using a combination of live action, animation and the then emerging art of computer graphics. In this period the duo directed several music videos for performers including Elvis Costello ("Accidents Will Happen"), Talking Heads ("Blind"), Tom Tom Club ("Genius of Love", "Pleasure of Love", "Don't Say No"), Donald Fagen ("New Frontier") and Miles Davis ("Decoy").
In 1985, Jankel and Morton won an Emmy Award for their title sequence for the NBC show Friday Night Videos. In 2003, their 1978 music video for Elvis Costello's "Accidents Will Happen" was one of only 35 videos selected for inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art's prestigious "Golden Oldies Of Music Video" exhibition. Their music videos are found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
In 1984, Jankel and Morton co-authored a book titled Creative Computer Graphics that detailed the history of the craft and essayed its future.
Jankel co-created Max Headroom, a cult cyberpunk character that evolved into multiple TV productions and became very influential in science fiction TV and impacted popular culture in the 1980s. Jankel and Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show - an entertainment program that featured comedic sequences, interviews conducted by the Headroom cyber-character and music videos. (Channel 4 - UK and HBO - US). This led to the TV film Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future also directed by the duo. The TV film in turn inspired the ABC Max Headroom US TV series.
Subsequent to the success of Max Headroom, Jankel and Morton moved to Los Angeles and together directed a remake of the film noir thriller D.O.A, starring Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid. The film received critical acclaim in the Washington Post and from film writers such as Roger Ebert who described it as "a witty and literate thriller".
Following D.O.A., Jankel and Morton directed the film, Super Mario Bros., starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper. The film was set in a dark post-apocalyptic interpretation of the Mushroom Kingdom, as distinct from the colourful cartoonish setting of the game. On the television show Siskel & Ebert, the film received two thumbs down. However, Hal Linson in the Washington Post described it as "sweet and funny and full of bright invention. In short, it's a blast." Other reviews such as the New York Times' Janet Maslin praised the film's direction but diagnosed flaws emanating from the script: "This film's two directors and three screenwriters have clearly tried hard to breathe life into their nonstory. ... its special effects are well executed even when their purpose is less than clear." However, the main actors in the film were less than complimentary about Jankel and Morton, Dennis Hopper remarked, "It was a nightmare, very honestly, that movie. It was a husband-and-wife directing team who were both control freaks and wouldn't talk before they made decisions.", while Hoskins quipped in a 2007 Guardian interview: "The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers. It was a f*ckin' nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! F*ckin' nightmare. F*ckin' idiots."
Creation of the MJZ production company
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After directing a number of high-profile TV commercials in 1990, Jankel and Morton founded a production company Morton/Jankel/Zander (sometimes abbreviated to MJZ) with partner David Zander. Jankel and Morton were the company's first directors. The company's primary focus was in making TV commercials with some music video production. At this point, Jankel and Morton started to work as individual directors rather than as co-directors.
As one of the three owners of the company, Jankel was one of the triumvirate responsible[verification needed] for the growth of MJZ from a small unit in 1990 to a successful commercials production house. The company has produced multiple award-winning commercials - including recognition by Britain's D&AD Awards, the Cannes Lions Awards, the Clio Awards and the One Club Awards for advertising. MJZ has been named Top Commercials Production Company for two consecutive years by Creativity Magazine.
Jankel became a director of TV commercials for clients such as Sealy, Coca-Cola, Bud Light, AOL, Bacardi, Hallmark and Greenpeace winning multiple advertising awards.[verification needed] Her Kiss spot for Hallmark was named "World’s Best-Humor Commercial", "Best Directed Commercial" and "Best of Show" at the International Broadcast Awards.[verification needed] She was also awarded the Gold Award for "Best TV Commercial Campaign" at the Worldfest REMI Awards. 
In 2006, Jankel directed the 24-episode TV series Live From Abbey Road seen on Channel 4 in the UK and on the Sundance Channel in the US.  - working with over 72 major musical artists including Paul Simon, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews, Norah Jones, Wynton Marsalis John Mayer and Dr. John. 
In 2009 Jankel produced and directed an adaptation of the Carnegie and Whitbread award-winning novel Skellig by David Almond[verification needed], a well received[verification needed] $5.3M Sky1 HD Easter Special feature length production for TV broadcast and subsequent international theatrical distribution, starring Tim Roth, John Simm, Kelly Macdonald, Bill Milner and Skye Bennett.
In 2011 Jankel directed the 52 minute 3D show "Live On Air" shown on Sky3D Atlantic and Sky Arts, featuring the band Elbow, in rehearsal and performing at the 02 centre.
- "Annabel Jankel Moves to Saville". Studio Daily. 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- Song Review by Stewart Mason. "New Frontier - Donald Fagen | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- "IFTV Fest awards videos, programs." Back Stage 9 Nov. 1984: 1+. General OneFile. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.
- IMDB - we need a better reference for this though
- "MOMA". MOMA. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- "Amazon.com". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- "'D O A'". Washingtonpost.com. 1988-03-18. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- Collette, Olivia (1988-03-18). "D.O.A. Movie Review & Film Summary (1988) | Roger Ebert". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- Siskel & Ebert
- "‘Super Mario Bros.’ (PG)". Washingtonpost.com. 1993-05-29. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- New York Times[dead link]
- "Random Roles: Dennis Hopper · The A.V. Club". Avclub.com. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- Simon Hattenstone (2007-08-03). "'The Method? Living it out? Cobblers!' | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- "Top Gunns: Probably The Best Ads In The World." Campaign (UK) 46 (2007): 13. Associates Programs Source Plus. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.
- Hamilton, James. "Palme D'or Winner Vows To Improve, Not Expand." Campaign (UK) 28 (2006): 15. Associates Programs Source Plus. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.
- Wilcha, Kristin. "'Lamp' Lights Up 44Th Annual Clios." Shoot 44.20 (2003): 1. Associates Programs Source Plus. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.
- O'Leary, Noreen. "Maestros Of Miami Mangle Madison Ave!." Print 58.1 (2004): 68-75. Computer Source. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.
- Diaz, Ann Christine. "Creativity's Production Company Of The Year: Mjz." Advertising Age 81.4 (2010): 31. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.
- Book: Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton Creative Computer Graphics (UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984) ISBN 0-521-26251-8 
- Book: Super Mario Brothers (US: Disney Pr, 1993) ISBN 1-56282-471-6