George Jecel – Directorial notes for the new feature film

From first draft of the script onwards, I visualized the story set in an extremely beautiful landscape, contrasting with the poverty of a people at the periphery of civil war.

A gifted dancer, so delicate in her youth and beauty, finds a priest to mentor her, and she falls in love with a boy who watched both of his parents being killed in the war. Despite it all there is an absolute innocence in their friendship, love and support for each other. There are these contrasts of beauty and pain, forced into a desperate situation from which there appears no way out. This is a fictional narrative and yet the story is true.

“HMFYD” is my personal declaration of love. To me, without love we don’t have much left in this world, and this perspective becomes brutally apparent in the closing stages of the film. During these scenes it seems that the life-saving grace of compassion can be experienced more intensely because of its total absence rather than in its presence.

Finally, it has become common knowledge that human trafficking is a very real problem throughout the world. Though mainly originating in impoverished nations that supply the steady stream of young women and men, this supply and demand ‘industry’ reaches right to our own doorstep. There have been other attempts to shine a light on this problem. HMFYD peels back the veneer and allows us to be able to see how it occurs. That specifically was the experience I wanted to manifest. I strived to create an uncluttered, simple and liberating view of what simply has become a monster, behind arms and drugs the third largest business on the planet.

And yet I wanted “HMFYD” to be a beautiful film, set in a beautiful land so that the audience would have enough time and space to live closely with the characters for a while, to observe their dreams drastically collide without making too many judgments in the process.

Surprisingly, I discovered compassion for the so-called evil characters in the story. It’s hard to see them step on a young and precious life with their heavy boots and be unmoved, but we understand the motivations that bring them to this point. The film makes apparent that simply cracking down on the criminal perpetrators won’t be enough if we do not confront the economic conditions that drive one generation to exploit another.

TATJIANA, the main character, is a fragile music box producing wonderful sounds. I wanted to find someone very young, charismatic and extremely beautiful, yet full of mischief. I found that person in 15 year-old Stesh Seymour from Kiev.

Director/Cameraman George Jecel has secured his place as a highly stylized worldwide commercial director combining his trademark breathtaking beautiful imagery with honest realism and inspiring art direction. Of his many strengths George is sought after for his uncanny ability to capture raw emotion and relay this emotion into seamless visual elegance. The unbridled power of the professional athlete
(Canon “Agassi” & “Fire in the Belly”/Nike “Spirit of Play”) transferred in epic proportions to slick, poetic imagery. Hi-tech know how coupled with an eye for the simplistic beauty mother earth offers continues to drive his career to greater heights (Belize “Splash”/Chrysler “Apollo 11”/Boeing “Great idea”).

Austrian born Jecel grew up in a professional household in Vienna. His parents encouraged him to continue in the long family line of doctors, however George had other aspirations. For years George worked in the theatre where he cultivated his skills in drama, composition, art and talent direction.

In 1982 George relocated to Hollywood after catching the eye of executives at Universal Studios with a play written, directed and produced by the ambitious Austrian. After a successful run the play was bought and later developed by HBO as a cable series. Now relocated in ‘Hollywood’ Mr. Jecel with a stream of offers signed with British based BFCS in Los Angeles and thus made the transition into the advertising industry.

George Jecel later joined international production company Believe Media in 2001 With a keen eye for high production value George has assembled a highly creative ‘crew-team’ that has helped earn him a reputation as one of most sought after directors industry wide.

Between 2011 and 2013 co-wrote, produced and directed first full length feature film entitled: “HOW MUCH FOR YOUR DAUGHTER?”
The film is currently being exposed to the international festival circuit and is due to be released in 2015.
Meanwhile he continues his career as a commercial director/cameraman shooting TV commercials around the world.

George Jecel’s commercial credits include work for the following clients:
ABC, Adidas, AMG-Mercedes Benz, Ann Cole of California, Aktion Mensch, Arcor, Avionics, Asiana Airlines, Bally’s, Bitburger, Blue Cross, BK Dynacel, BVR Bank, Cable & Wireless, Cadillac, Canon, California Tourism,, Chrysler, Cleveland Clinic, Clinique, Coca Cola, Dannon, EA-Generali, Everlast, Evian, Footaction, Ford Motor Company, Gatorade, GNC, Hartford Hospital, Ikea, Konami, Langnese, LG, Mazda, Miller Beer, Met-RX, Mobil, Nautica, Neat Sheet, Nescafe, Nike, Oral-B, PGA Tour, Pontiac, Powerade, Preferred Stock, Raiffeisen-Banken, Reebok, Renault, Replay Jeans, Salomon, Showtime, Sony, Sprint, Sprite, Sunrise, Suzuki, Theragran, Travelocity, Turbo Duo, UBS Bank, Volksbanken, VW-Audi, etc.

Awards: Gold at the Clios, Gold at the New York Advertisement Film Festival and Bronze at the London Film Festival. A Saphire Award at the Mena Cristal 7th edition.

From an interview with Miami reporter David Reskin:

Q: What drove you to become a director?
A: I think it was lasting impressions of minor details. When I was very young I watched my father having a lot — I mean a lot — of fun making home movies. Of course, everybody else dreaded being in front of the camera. Miraculously though, once the films were developed and cut, everybody was incredibly keen to see the end results. Being together in that dark room watching ourselves was always the highlight of a great weekend. Whatever it was – my dad’s eye, the ham actor in all of us – it didn’t seem to matter because we always loved those movies. Especially for me – usually sitting on my mother’s warm lap – those were nights of indelible Memory. I think I must have felt the power of catching life on film and seeing others and yourself through some kind of magic looking glass. Plus I was really blown away by the apparent effect it had on people. Sometimes we were all laughing so hard we were literally rolling on the floor.

Q: It sounds like there should be more to this story, right?
A: A bit later, when the sixties, early seventies were in full swing, I, unfortunately, was still too young to participate. But I knew I was witnessing something big, one of those moments in history where a sea change is taking place. Since I didn’t play in a band and I wasn’t in the right country to burn anybody in effigy, I started to look for other ways to participate. It was easy: I started to make films in my mind to the songs I heard on the radio. Most of it was pretty bad stuff, outrageous stuff – you know, the big evil against the glorious good with huge scenes involving thousands, usually in the tradition of powerful Russian propaganda films. Since these films existed only in my mind I could set up the most costly and impressive scenes I could fantasize about. I have to admit I never went to a more exciting film school.

Q: Then, how did you end up in L.A.? A: This may seem strange, but I remember the first time I saw the name “Los Angeles” in my school atlas, I was about ten and I was immediately attracted by its beautiful sound. It was the only name I ever underlined in the entire atlas and later I learned that’s the place where film supposedly “lives”. So here I was, years later in L.A., waking up in the middle of the night and realizing suddenly how I had unwittingly set myself up to be a film maker in this Godforsaken, I mean… lovely town (laughs). It’s truly amazing how destiny sometimes fulfills itself.

Q: What is the director’s main contribution to a film?
A: Well, I can only speak for myself, and for me it’s the willingness to take risks. Or even better, to be fearless without being ruthless. I have to say that almost every time I committed myself to try something new, it turned out to be a great success. So I’ve concluded, after a lot of trial and error, that I’m just not good at copying myself. And then, a director has to be a leader in the classic sense of the word: hiring the best possible team for the job, giving them the freedom to make individual contributions without too much interference. It always warms my heart to see how hard people will work for you when you let them. I think that’s what I’ve learned more and more recently… and where I find I invariably take the biggest steps forward. Now I can say I do have a great core team, and what a difference that is. And of course don’t forget the other great director’s benefits – like being able to arrive on the set last… and leave first (laughs).

Q: What are your next goals as a director?
A: To do feature films as soon as they’ll let me! No, seriously, I believe I’m close now because I can see it happening absolutely clearly – as opposed to a few years back, when this was just a vague idea. I’d love to make a film about a true spiritual master who gets kidnapped along with others by a group of committed suicide terrorists. I have had the good fortune of being around some amazing personalities, and I’ve often wondered how such a story would unfold. Then of course, after 9/11, under the surface, getting past all the media noise it’s these kinds of stories, in my opinion, whose outcomes will ultimately matter most. I am working intensely on this subject matter, so for whoever’s reading this and thinking “hmm… that’s a damn good idea” – it’s too late! I have it registered and covered (laughs).

Q: What are you aiming for each time you start a job?
A: Oh… thanks for asking an easy question! If it’s a commercial, I simply want to understand as precisely as possible what the agency wants to do with the spot so I can serve the process as best I can possibly do.

Q: Really?
A: Really! That’s my current work mantra. I have found it to work best for all the elements and the personalities. And there is a lot of genuine happiness with this philosophy, and a lot of fun on the set too. Of course, I also need to add a bit of personal magic stuff.

Q: Who are your three all-time favorite directors?
A: Hmm…that’s tough, because it’s hard to pin it down just to three. Plus I relate more to some individual films and less to the actual directors or their full oeuvre. Well, there’s Orson Welles of course, for his revolutionary vision. And then there are also recent films like “American Beauty”. It’s amazing how they crafted a masterpiece psychological profile out of what in the wrong hands could have been a dreadful soap opera. Yeah, and for valid reasons, this film pops up when I’m asked this question: Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Blow Up”. And the Kieslowski films “Red”, Blue” and “White” for their impeccable structure and unique vision. AND…. AND…. So, you see, once you get me started…

Q: How does your background in theater affect your work as a TV commercial director?
A: A great deal, but in completely different ways than you would probably expect. It has to do with the pigeonholing that invariably happens once you set out to do anything in the commercial world. So, in my case, and for no reason at all, I happened to have done what people in the industry like to call a visually driven spot first. After that was successful, next thing I knew I was a “visual director”. And once you get labeled it’s hard to move yourself closer to dialogue and true story telling. So that’s what I miss most now, the development of story and dialogue together with great talent. And I won’t rest until it will be again “commercially acceptable” for me to do this. Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting pretty pictures, but in the end each director wants to tell a story…