Bensimon first rose to success in the film industry over a decade ago after working as the cinematographer on a commercial for telecommunications giant Nokia.
About the commercial Bensimon says, "We created an operatic piece where we blew up TVs, Cameras and stereos and we would get beautiful highlights and light glimmers as all these pieces flew through the air, and at the end the footage would play backwards to create the phone. It was a mix of artistry and technology blending."
One of the perks of being sought after by clients of this caliber is that Bensimon is always privy to using the industry's most cutting edge technology. Bensimon shot the footage for this particular commercial in super-slow motion, using a prototype digital camera that could record 1500fps, something he says at the time, "Was a new frontier for digital cinema."
Eventually, Bensimon's unique visual style as a cinematographer grabbed the attention of an executive producer who, to make a long story short, put the talented young filmmaker on a path towards directing in 2006. Since then, Bensimon has gone on to work as the director and cinematographer on an impressive list of films, music videos and commercials.
In 2014 Bensimon received several awards for his work, including a Gold, a Merit, and two Silver Awards at the Advertising and Design Club Of Canada (ADCC) for the film Zombie, which also took home three awards at the Applied Arts Advertising & Interactive Awards and made it onto the Cannes Lions' Shortlist. The film also received the Gold Pro Bessie Award at the 2015 Bessie Awards, one of the biggest awards shows in Canada.
Zombie follows Antoine Zombé, a Canadian actor and zombie who struggles to break into the American film industry, which doesn't flock to his easy-going Canadian nature, that is, until he lets go of his niceness and becomes the kind of rabid angry zombie audiences have come to expect.
"I took the film in a biopic direction where we follow this zombie actor's career. We start with his struggles and go on a journey that leads us to the eventual breakthrough into the business," explains Jonathan Bensimon. "I worked very closely with the lead actor (Ian Matthews) to create a comical tone, that was simultaneously absurd and relatable."
Prior to creating the film Zombie to promote the Canadian Film Festival (CFF) in 2014, Bensimon worked as both the cinematographer and director on several other projects for the festival including the short film Canadian Sin, which garnered a Silver Award at the 2013 London International Film Festival and the Gold Award in the cinema category at the 2013 ADCC. Bensimon also worked as the director and cinematographer on Canadian Mafia for CFF, which took home the Silver Award at the 2013 ADCC, and two awards at the Applied Arts Advertising & Interactive Awards.
Even in the early stages of his career, Jonathan Bensimon was widely recognized throughout the industry as someone destined for greatness, something proven by the fact that several management and production companies across Canada vied for the chance to represent him for his work. Prior to finding representation for his music videos with The Field, Spy Films (Toronto) and Les Enfants (Montreal), Bensimon was represented by Industry Films.
While working with Industry Films, Jonathan Bensimon worked as the cinematographer and director on several high-profile commercials for global brands including "Passion," "All You Want," "Relief Worker" and "Father of the Bride" for Tylenol, "His and Hers," "Test Drive," "Trade In," "Checkered Flag" and "Silence" for Honda, as well as Nissan's "Choosing," Villagio's "Everyone's Favorite," Advil's "Advil Air," Honey Bunches of Oats' "Multiple Mouths" and countless others.
Although Bensimon has become a highly sought after director and cinematographer for commercials, his talents in the field extend far beyond commercials alone. In 2010 he directed, as well as worked as the cinematographer on the film Tokyo/Glow, which received the Bronze Award in the film category at the Telly Awards. Upon his first visit to Tokyo, Bensimon was not only mesmerized by the beauty of the city, but was also drawn to one of the city's unique features-- a cross-walk sign, which ultimately led him to create the film Tokyo/Glow.
Bensimon recalls, "I was in awe of the entire city, but something really simple caught my attention: the cross walk sign, rather than being a stick figure like every other crosswalk sign in the world this one had a suit and a fedora. I wanted to bring him to life and see him journey through the city."
Incorporating stop-motion animation, Bensimon's film captures the beauty of the city's nightscape alive with movement as one man, who is literally lit up like a light bulb, moseys through the busy streets.
Bensimon explains, "Our lead actor was wrapped in a 100 meters of LED rope light as he walked at a snails pace in order for the world around him to move at rapid speed."
Aside from receiving a Telly Award, Tokyo/Glow reached incredible success in Canada where it aired nationwide on Bravo!, in addition to being featured on several blogs including Style.com, Tokyomango.com, Madewithjapan.com, and many more.
About the way his work as both a cinematographer and director affect his overall approach to a project Bensimon says, "Being a director/cinematographer allows me to see things in a very unique way, it makes my preparation very intense and makes me develop a special relationship with the actors and the crew because I constantly look at things from multiple angles. Also, it allows me to have a very clear idea of the direction of the mood that will be in the final piece."
Over the past decade Jonathan Bensimon has created an unparalleled reputation as an artist who is able to not only morph his creativity to the fit needs of his vast range of commercial clients, but one who is able to continually create groundbreaking work and frankly, we can't wait to see what he comes up with next!
Make sure to check out Jonathan Bensimon's "Social Innovation" commercial for Hitachi below, where he was both the cinematographer and director, and if you would like to see more of this talented filmmaker's work you can check out his profile on Spy Films, Les Enfants and The Field , the production companies currently representing him.