Ambler Heads To Shelter
By Elizabeth Michaelson
NEW YORK – Director Ned Ambler has signed with bicoastal Shelter Films for spot representation.
Ambler’s credits include "Rock Star 1-9" and "Blitz Rock 1-13," multiple promos – each set consisting of variations on similar footage – for MTV-X, the network’s "all rock and roll channel." Ambler has also directed several digital video features, including the 45-minute Hair Burners and the upcoming Celebrity Sleuth. He is a contributing photographer at Interview magazine, and his artwork has appeared in several exhibitions.
In ’95, Ambler got a job as an assistant at L’Uomo Vogue (Italian Men’s Vogue), in New York. There he discovered his heretofore-unsuspected skill: He could spot modeling talent. One of Ambler’s tasks was to find people in the street, with the right look, and take Polaroids of them. Ambler’s targets were so on target that he quickly packed in the job at L’Uomo Vogue and opened Ned Ambler Casting, scouring the streets full-time for potential models. As Ambler recalled, "I met Steven Meisel, and he ended up having me cast eight Calvin Klein campaigns." Ambler’s assignments were varied: "I would go out on the street, looking for hundreds of skateboarder kids or Japanese girls…"
His new venture allowed Ambler access to the art, as well as to the fashion world. As he pointed out to SHOOT, "Unlike most people in fashion, I got to work directly with the top photographers in the world. I got to hang out with Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Steven Meisel. I went to the shoot and stood behind them while they were taking photos!"
In ’95, Ambler directed his first film, Rock Star. The black-and-white, 51-minute film was shown at New York’s The New Festival in ’96. Over the next few years, he continued to make films while casting ad campaigns.
But after devoting more than four years to other peoples’ modeling careers, last year he decided to pursue directing full-time. This necessitated some subterfuge when dealing with his clientele. When designers called, "I’d pretend to be my assistant on the machine," Ambler revealed, laughing: "I’d say, ‘I’m sorry, Ned Ambler doesn’t do casting anymore. He’s directing now.’"
In the summer of ’99, Ambler wrote a screenplay about three female ex-convicts who open a hair salon in a conservative neighborhood. He shot the film, Hair Burners, on digital video, which he likes because "it costs zero dollars!" Hair Burners premiered at the Chicago Underground Film Festival this summer, and in mid-November will be shown at the MIX 2000:NYC Festival Innovations Series.
Over the past year, Ambler completed photography assignments and continued making films. In May ’00, he re-edited Rock Star for MTV-X, and directed the "Blitz Rock" promos at the network’s request. This summer, Ambler met Shelter president/managing director Steve Shore. They were introduced by Ambler’s neighbor and friend - Genevra DiLorenzo.
At Shore’s request Ambler began working on a series of short films: "I’ve been shooting these :30 shorts, as a discipline. They’re more linear and traditional – I’m not all about rock and roll and fashion!" Ambler insisted, chuckling. "I just like to do things that are different." Ambler’s creative partner is event planner Benjamin Liu, who serves as producer on Ambler’s films. The two men hope to go into production on Muse, a film about artists and their inspirations, in the near future.
Said Ambler, "I want to do everything; I’ve got to be always working – spots or music videos or short films."
Shore observed, "Ned’s a really talented guy. I think that what he really has going for him is this very raw, but very interesting, progressive look to his films and their subject matter. I find the work daring and bold."
"Ned’s got impeccable credentials," continued Shore. "As a casting director, he really did foster what’s known as the ‘New Realism’ in fashion photography." Referring to Ambler’s work for Interview, Shore commented, "The photographic editorial staff at Interview is so far out on the leading edge of what does turn up in our business, that it’s only a matter of time before somebody finds the right project for Ned."
Shore added, "I think taking on a new director is worthwhile if they just so break new ground that you can’t ignore the visionary quality of the work."