Angry, White and American - Channel 4
I produced and directed this one-off film for Channel 4 - a very personal journey across the States by black writer and journalist Gary Younge, exploring the mental, emotional and economic state of White America. Our encounter with white supremacist Richard Spencer went viral on social media with over 9 million hits before the film even aired: WATCH THE VIRAL VIDEO
An unflinching look at American despair and racial hatred. As nationalism and bigotry increase, Gary Younge’s documentary examines the fractured psyche of white America with grace and insight…a thoughtful, generous-hearted documentary.
Gary Younge does not lack guts. The British journalist has reported from the US for 12 years and has “never seen it this bad”, with one community in particular suffering from existential despair, a drug crisis, radical lack of self-esteem and a loss of identity.
Pick of the Week - Financial Times
Gary Younge takes the US’s raging temperature and finds little cause for optimism. From preposterous white supremacist Richard Spencer to the despondent residents of the rust belt, Younge imbibes a toxic cocktail of identity crisis, economic decline, confusion about the past and dread of the future. Essential viewing.
British journalist’s Richard Spencer interview should be a lesson for American media - a masterclass on how to deal with intellectual dishonesty
White supremacist Richard Spencer comes off looking like a supreme idiot during an interview with a black British journalist. He tries to explain why slavery was good and fails miserably.
Jenny shot a series of idents for C4 for Remembrance weekend.
David Reviews said:
"Great Guns Director Jenny Ash provoked a huge response on social media with a series of powerful films shown on More4 on Remembrance Sunday. Each featured a well known actor providing excellent reading of the celebrated war poetry that emerged from the muddy trenches. The Emmy Nominated filmaker drew superb performances from Sean Bean, Gemma Arterton, Stephen Graham and Sophie Okonedo. John Hay - commissioning editor for Channel 4 gave it the thumbs up - Jenny more than delivered. The shorts are subtle, modern, beautiful and powerful. They've got us all excited again about what short content can do."
Starring John Hurt, this ITV film tells the secret story of First World War poets Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves. Told in their own words - using their diaries, letters and poems.
The three young men are gay budding poets, thrown together in battle. They soon lose their boyish innocence in the trenches. On the front line an officer’s life expectancy is barely six weeks. They all struggle to cope with the magnitude of the slaughter around them and forge deep, intense friendships. Together they give a voice to the rage of a generation.
At the heart of the film is the story of Sassoon and Owen’s forbidden love affair, told through their passionate correspondence.
John Hurt plays Sassoon in the 1960s, in the twilight years of his life. He is haunted by his experiences in the trenches and cannot overcome the grief of losing the love of his life. He provides the backbone to the film as we flash back with him to his younger self – played by Morgan Watkins (The Hour). Wilfred Owen is played by Matthew Beard (The Imitation Game, One Day and An Education) and Robert Graves is played by Joe Claflin (Game of Thrones).
The Pity of War: ITV’s poignant dramatised account of war poets’ Sassoon and Owen's relationship. Playing the aged Sassoon, his eyes clouding with traumatic reminiscence, Hurt delivered the poetry in a manner that can only be described as poetic, his cadence and timbre so clotted-cream-rich it should have come with a health warning. - The Telegraph
Jenny shot this campaign for the P&G brand ‘Always’ on location in Senegal.
She learnt the local language, Wolof, and spent ten days in a remote village in Senegal with no electricity or water, working with young girls to help them deliver the script in French. None of them were natural French speakers.
AMERICA - THE STORY OF US, HISTORY CHANNEL
A landmark, ten-part drama documentary series for The History Channel. Introduced by Barack Obama, it traces the history of America from Jamestown to 1945.
Jenny wrote and directed several episodes and was nominated for four international Emmys and a NAACP drama award for her film about slavery and the run up to the American civil war.
A masterful example of storytelling. The show's eyewitness account of a New Orleans slave auction, where buyers and sellers prod their merchandise like animals, is like a punch in the stomach. Its strong narrative drive is cross-hatched with nimble intellectual linkages that turn history into something warm and palpable. – Miami Herald
PERSONAL AFFAIRS, BBC3
A quirky comedy drama series about a group of PAs who work in an investment bank in the City. One of them mysteriously disappears in the first episode. Starring Archie Panjabi (The Constant Gardener, The Good Wife), Darren Boyd (Four Lions), Ruth Negga (Loving, Misfits, Shirley), Annabel Scholey (Being Human, Walking on Sunshine), Maimie McCoy (The Musketeers, Loving Miss Hatto) and Robert Gant (Queer as Folk, Friends).
DAYS OF DARKNESS, ITV
Drama based on the true story of an American doctor who is forced to operate on her own breast cancer whilst trapped in a research station in the South Pole. Starring Lesley Sharp (The Full Monty, Inkheart, Vera Drake). Jenny filmed this on a glacier in Norway and a disused post office in London!
David Reviews wrote:
One of the cleverest things Google has done in it’s advertising is to associate itself strongly with everything that is good about the Internet. In this commercial for the search engine giant, a young woman explains how she used Google to establish a new business in Lagos, Nigeria. She admits that she acted against the advice of her parents who wanted her to become a banker - confirmed in a cameo from her father - and that her chosen profession is one with a very lowly reputation in her home country.
Nonetheless, she overcame these odds and is now a successful entrepreneur. In part, she was able to overcome the difficulties of working in a conservative business climate by taking advantage of the anonymity afforded by online communication to avoid questions arising about her age and gender. The Internet (and, by implication, Google) were pivotal in the various white lies she had to tell.
Director Jenny Ash tells this young woman's story with commendable skill... it is both concise and thorough, holding your attention and leaving you appropriately impressed by the spirit and endeavour of its protagonist. We love work like this and believe it has an important role to play in the future of advertising.
THE NIGHT STALKER, DISCOVERY US
The dramatised story of a Hispanic detective’s quest to track down a serial killer from his own neighbourhood who terrorised LA in the mid 80s. Jenny filmed this in English and Spanish in East Los Angeles using the real people from the street who finally hunted him down as extras.
DOLLY PARTON: PLATINUM BLONDE, BBC1
Profile of Dolly Parton, country music high priestess and formidable businesswoman, who clawed her way up from a dirt-poor childhood in rural Tennessee to international superstardom. Jenny spent two weeks on the road with her and made this up close and personal film.
After Jenny Ash’s excellent documentary I have become one of Dolly Parton’s greatest fans. And not a moment too soon – Observer
A well-crafted portrait of a clever, assured, talented woman – Daily Mail
WATERLOO ROAD, BBC1
Jenny directed two episodes of BBC1’s popular drama series set in a tough inner-city comprehensive.
A documentary looking at the history of diet gurus and their battle with the medical profession from 1950s America onwards.
Intelligent and absorbing documentary – Sunday Times
Heart FM commercial
DEAD MAN BOARDING, ITV
A snowboarder’s eight days of torment when he becomes lost in a blizzard on a Californian mountain after being dumped by his girlfriend. Jenny and her crew spent a fortnight waist-deep in snow filming this in the middle of nowhere in Yukon, Canada.
Combining dramatised scenes with interviews, this film is utterly riveting – Sunday Times
ME AND ALL THE OTHER MOTHERS, BBC2 PILOT
Comedy pilot about a widower with young children who takes on the mothers’ mafia at his kids’ school.
THE HUNT FOR KIMATHI, BBC2
The story of the Mau Mau’s charismatic guerrilla leader, Dedan Kimathi, who fought successfully for years against British rule in 1950s Kenya and was executed days before the country gained independence.
The British won the conflict in the most preposterous way – by blacking up, putting corks in their noses to look negroid, wearing rasta wigs and going out in the dead of night pretending to be Mau Mau guerillas. It arguably marked the birth of British counter-terrorism.
Jenny filmed this drama documentary in English and Kikuyu with descendants of the Mau Mau as extras in the Aberdare Mountains, Kenya.
Compelling…informative, intelligently presented and entertaining – Evening Standard