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Alum Takes Storytelling from the Small Screen to the Big Screen, and Back Again

Published September 11, 2015 in News

By: Diana Williams | UVAToday

Mark Pellington is a man you know, but you don’t know that you know him. More than likely, he was behind the camera for some of the most memorable visual experiences you’ve had in the last 30 years. 

Pellington, a 1984 graduate of the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences may be best known for his music video work. From U2 to Michael Jackson, he’s directed videos for some of the hottest acts in the business. In fact, his love of music and writing helped him reach where he is today.

In 1985, Pellington was working at MTV when the first piece he made, “Collage,” won an award. He was 23. 

Pellington said it was the first award he’d won for something non-sports related. He recalled that his father, the late Bill Pellington, was very proud. Bill, a former linebacker for the Baltimore Colts, traveled from Baltimore to New York for the award ceremony.

“I felt like I was finding my way,” Mark Pellington said about the award. “I felt like, ‘Wow, this was something I could succeed in.’ It felt natural to me. At that point, I thought, ‘I’m just going to keep doing this until somebody tells me to go home.’”

“Thirty years later,” he said dryly, “and nobody has told me to go home.”

Pellington, now 53, shows no signs of slowing down, or going home. In addition to music, he has tackled a variety of styles and themes in his storytelling, and with critical acclaim: a 1993 Emmy nomination for “Homicide: Life on the Street” (outstanding individual achievement in graphic design and title sequences); a 1997 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize nomination for the film “Going All the Way”; and a 1999 nomination for the Grand Prix award at the Paris Film Festival for the film “Arlington Road,” to name a few.

UVA Today caught up with Pellington after he wrapped up shooting of the first season of NBC’s new series, “Blindspot.”

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