Phil Joanou is a storyteller, plain and simple. Crafting visually compelling stories is his life’s work, and he’s done it in every medium, from features to television to documentaries to music videos to, most recently and perhaps most dynamically, commercial advertising. No matter the format or genre, Joanou’s vision is set apart by an eye for stylish imagery and a gift to tell stories with his camera, which he’s been doing since he was a teenager.
Initially inspired to become a director by the film “Jaws” in 1975, he began making films with his family’s Super-8 camera. Within a decade, Joanou had graduated from USC Cinema, with the coveted Best Student Film prize under his arm. From there, he was hired by his mentor Steven Spielberg to direct two episodes of the acclaimed series “Amazing Stories,” the second of which won John Lithgow a best actor emmy.
In the years that followed, Joanou earned his stripes as a feature film director with hits like “Three O’clock High,” “State of Grace,” “Final Analysis” and “Entropy.” Joanou ventured into television with Oliver Stone’s “Wild Palms” and Sydney Pollack’s film noir series “Fallen Angles” with Gary Oldman. Joanou moved into the sports genre directing “Gridiron Gang” for Sony Pictures Entertainment based on a documentary of the same name, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Xzibit. The film opened number one in both its theatrical run and in its home video release.
Phil’s deep love for non-fiction came to the fore with documentaries, including the highly influential and critically acclaimed “Rattle and Hum,” about the legendary band U2. He also directed the Peabody Award winning series "Age 7 in America" and 14 Up in America" -- the American version of Michael Apted's acclaimed "28 Up" series. He recently traveled to eight countries throughout Africa to direct a documentary backed by Bono's Product Red, exploring the need for HIV drugs in the Sub-Sarahan region.
When Joanou’s not shooting his longer form projects, he pours time and passion into his commercial work. He has been honored with Addys, AICPs, and statues from Cannes for a variety of projects and was responsible for three of the most lauded and, yes, controversial spots with Nike's "Horror," GM’s “Robot” and Trojan Condoms’ “Evolve.” Other commercial clients have included ESPN, Samsung, Warner Bros., Lexus, Coke, Gatorade and Nike.
In the rock video world, Joanou has directed eight videos for U2 covering more than a twenty year span, including "One," "Wild Horses," "All Because of You," and "Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own." He has also collaborated with Whitney Huston, Mariah Carey, Bon Jovi and Tom Petty. His work with Petty on their production of "You Don't Know How it Feels" earned them the MTV award for best Rock Video that year.
This summer Netflix will release a stand-up comedy film Joanou directed starring Chris Tucker -- covered with seven cameras live on Stage in Atlanta's Fox Theater. "Chris Tucker Live" will debut worldwide on July 10th, 2015. Joanou is also currently finishing work on a supernatural thriller for Universal Pictures entitled “The Veil” starring Jessica Alba and Thomas Jane.
Phil Joanou -- writer/director