Phoenix Film Festival had the opportunity to sit down with Noble Jones, the writer, director and cinematographer of “The Tomorrow Man” featuring John Lithgow and Blythe Danner, which is now in theaters. Jones was in Phoenix for a Q & A following a screening of his film at the Harkins Camelview theater on Friday, May 24.
Although our visit was brief, Mr. Jones’s visual style is distinctive and we enjoyed the chat.
Phoenix Film Festival: This is your directorial debut, isn’t it?
Noble Jones: It’s such an odd thing to hear. I’ve been at this for a while, but yes this is my directorial debut.
PFF: I know you did second unit work on the Social Network and directed a number of music videos, I get the sense that background is what informs the visual style of “The Tomorrow Man”?
Noble Jones: I actually did commercials for about fifteen years before I moved into music videos. I started with the Department of Corrections where I created training videos with inmates. We did dramatic scenarios showing things that could go wrong and then have the officers and staff review the films that we did. I then went to work with David Fincher who mentored me before getting into my own projects.
PFF: I felt like “The Tomorrow Man” is an updated version of Ron Howard’s “Cocoon.”
Noble Jones: [laughs] It’s funny that you mention that. Someone else mentioned it as well, but didn’t quite go that far.
PFF: I think from that vantage point, you showcased what wonderful people and actors both John Lithgow and Blythe Danner are. They were wonderful.
Noble Jones: Thank you.
PFF: What lead you to choose them for these particular roles?
Noble Jones: It’s really serendipitous in that John came to Anonymous Content as part of a management change. I had pitched the film just a few months prior. John’s manager, Tony Lipp also manages Blythe and John said “I think I have an idea for a project that we can work on together.” The stars aligned. They had never worked together before on film, but they had an opportunity to work together on Broadway. John went on to do films and then this project came along. On set, when the cameras would stop rolling, they would go off in to a corner and just continue chatting.
PFF: Your visual style is almost a character itself in the movie. It’s one of the most unique aspects of your film and it’s what drew me in. Can you talk a little bit more about that.
Noble Jones: That’s probably a combination of both the commercial and music video work that I did. I was a rigger and I always had a strong desire to do design – oriented work. It found its way into this project.
PFF: The most interesting hurdle for this film is the dinner scene with father and son. You introduced a new set of characters and a new course correction for the movie that has a different visual style than the rest of the movie. Can you talk more about that?
Noble Jones: It was a meticulous process, working the table, trying to create a unique movement and finding that cohesion with the rest of the material. It’s a lot of fun. That was the point of it all. That was the trauma that Ronnie saw that lead her to say “I can bring him in to my life.” She was able to develop a compassion for Ed that wasn’t previously there. I needed that moment.
Our thanks again to Noble Jones and Bleecker Street. “The Tomorrow Man” is now in theaters.