Director Jim Hosking

My Breakthrough Moment: director Jim Hosking

On top of his feature films including The Greasy Strangler, comedy director Jim Hosking has worked on ads for Skittles, Cadbury and Xbox. He looks back on how an MTV competition steered his path into comedy

I had been working as a copywriter at the agency Mother in London when I got the chance to work at MTV in New York as a writer and director of ‘on-air promos’. I think on-air promos are those short commercials on MTV that have an MTV logo at the end and can be about anything.

So I was excited to go to New York and to start directing at MTV where they would let me do whatever I wanted. But it didn’t work out exactly as I had hoped.

I arrived in New York on a snowy April night, and was placed in a corporate apartment in the deserted financial district where everything was wrapped in plastic apart from my bed. The next morning I went to Times Square on the subway. I saw a policeman and asked him where MTV was. He pointed at the huge Viacom building opposite. As I crossed the road, I thought: how did I come here and have no idea where MTV was? How could I be so ill-prepared?

On the first day, in fact on the first morning, I was asked to write a bunch of ideas for a generic MTV campaign. I handed them in to the creative director. And then I went for lunch. When I came back from lunch my stack of scripts was back on my desk with a post-it note stuck on top. The post-it note read: ‘Enough of this lame-ass Monty Python shit already.’

I thought it was strange that he had said ‘enough of this already’ when I had only been there about three hours. I thought he could have allowed me to indulge in at least one solid day of my lame-ass Monty Python shit. But apparently not.