Sam Jones is an acclaimed photographer whose portraits of President Obama, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Bob Dylan, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Nicholson and many others have graced the covers of Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Esquire, GQ, Time, Entertainment Weekly and Men’s Journal, to name just a few. He has also directed music videos for the likes of the Foo Fighters and Mumford And Sons as well as tv shows and documentaries so to say he knows his stuff is an understatement.
In 2015 he created Off Camera, which is a conversational style set of interviews with the great and good across all walks of life. Filmed in black and white, his guests include Dave Grohl, Robert Downey Jr, Sarah Silverman, Tony Hawk, Judd Apatow and Aimee Mann – there are 36 episodes available on Netflix if you want to check out everyone on the show. But if you were hoping for a bit of light hearted banter tv like Ellen or Graham Norton then you are bang out of luck as these interviews are far more in depth with no quips and funny anecdotes but plenty of serious discussions about the guests lives, work, their artistic processes and visions. Basically serious stuff.
My take on the show is pretty simple. If you like his guest then you'll love the interview. If you don't know much about the guest then it can be a bit heavy going. Interesting, but heavy. This documentary series is very much about getting to the root of how people get to the top of their game and not in a mutual-pat-on-the-back kind of way, but more like one serious professional talking to another as they discuss the various influences and experiences that shaped their attitudes to work and life in general. The guests are generally very open and honest but Sam Jones doesn't tend to cover the usual topics. Instead he focuses more on the intrinsic values and beliefs that guide his guests through their lives.
You won't get juicy gossip or raucous laughs and nobody is plugging their latest book or movie which is refreshing. What you will get though is a thorough insight into some of the world's most famous people.