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Jason Lindsey Tells Complete Stories Through Motion

Jason Lindsey is a true empath. The ability to connect to individuals from all walks of life is what creates the masterful emotions shown in his photos. Early on in his career, he understood the power that motion has over stills to tell a more complete story. There is emotion in film making that can’t be conveyed as powerfully in stills. Harnessing his own talents, Jason decided to test film work out on his own. 

As a commercial artist, creating personal work is imperative to keep up your skills as well as testing new ideas and processes. 12 years ago, as Jason was starting his director journey, he traveled to Ireland and decided to craft a short film, his first true motion project. Hoping for feedback, Jason sent it out to a few agencies and booked four jobs within a week. While the rest, they say, is history, there is so much more to the story, so we spoke with Jason to understand his philosophy when shooting motion as well as talking about some of his favorite projects he’s worked on.

What is it about motion that you feel can’t be conveyed through stills?

Often, not always, but often in photography you are tasked with capturing the entire story in one frame. In filmmaking, it’s almost the complete opposite. You want to draw the story out and build it up over time to create suspense or intrigue. In motion, you have the ability to tell a more full story that you might not normally get with stills. 

What is a tactic you use to tell a more complete story? 

I love the use of sound design to create a specific feel that will add to the story. I also like to think about the difference in how individual shots work. For example, in a still photo, you can’t have a subject so small that you can’t see them. But when you’re directing motion, a subject can be small because if they’re moving and everything else is still the viewers eye is drawn to them. There is a lot more freedom to capture things differently than you would with stills.

When you need to capture both, how do you ensure continuity between stills and motion?

One of the most important things you can do is to establish the brand voice between stills and motion. I always work closely with the DP to make sure we are getting the same look stylistically. Usually when we are shooting motion and stills we try not to include strobes, if we can, so we have the same lighting. I work with people I have been working with for years, so our process is very honed in and the look ends up being seamless between the two.

Which motion project are you most proud of?

From my personal projects, I’m most proud of the Cancer Survivor film. It’s such an important story to be explored and told. While not everyone has experienced cancer, the idea of overcoming hurdles that come at you is something that universally everyone understands. Braulio’s unique path to healing was through his creativity and art combined with swimming. Many people have seen that film and it has evoked strong emotions within people that I usually give a bit of a warning when showing it. It taps into something deep within people and I’m proud that I got to tell that story.

Commercially, I’m really proud of the Wyoming Tourism spot that I recently did. The crew was incredibly nimble and we all worked together really well. I also thought that work was unique because the scope of the project was fairly simple, the landscape really spoke for itself. So it was really just celebrating the beauty of the natural world, something I try to do in all aspects of my life. 

What is your philosophy when directing motion?

I try to approach the project from a different angle. For example, if you’re working with a healthcare client, they may want the spot to answer the question, “how did this product fix your ailment?”. I like to come at it by saying, “OK, so the product fixed your ailment, but what did that then allow you to do in life that you couldn’t before? How did it feel when you gained back your freedom? etc” I try to show how using a product will affect the viewer’s life, not only the original purpose of the product. People want to see the impact on their own life so I try to rethink what the viewer will actually want to see.

What sets Jason Lindsey apart from other directors?

My empathy. When I’m working with talent or real people, I am able to get them to open up and be vulnerable. As a director, that’s really important to pull out the deeper story. 

I also have experience as an art director so I understand the brand on a deeper level. I try to encourage creatives to reduce a tv spot down to three words that I can grab onto and use when I’m making the 1,000 microdecisions on set. I’ve found that that really helps create a tone and feel for a spot.