Wonderland, A Short Form Doc on Creative Commerce

“For me, the commercial space is very much about letting go of all of your vision, I guess, and giving people what they want. And not really, like, being precious about it.

Because it’s not cool. Like, whatever you’re doing, it’s not cool. No matter how cool it is, it’s still a commercial, right?”
— David Lewandowski, Wonderland

“Wonderland” looks at the often uncomfortable intersection of art and commerce manifested by commercial production. If you work anywhere near the commercial space, watch this. It’s honest and conflicted and — because of that — powerful.

Credits

Filmmaker: Terry Rayment
Filmmaker: Hunter Richards
Assistant Editor: Scott Hanson
Additional Photography: Mike Berlucchi

20 Comments

gianni

Really? I’m the first to comment here? Maybe what the world is saying is…“We’re still coming to terms with what was said.”

Sweet film. These guys are all my heroes, seeing mentions of them in various PR on the net. Kudos for creating work that helps them sleep a tiny bit better. IMHO, if they weren’t getting recognition at all, they likely would be even thirstier.

These guys are still like in their 20-30s and already pioneers. I wonder what they will say at 80. Something tells me they are still coming to terms. Possibly saving face to some degree to keep clients.

If they were to REALLY speak openly…my guess is it wouldn’t be as good for their bottom line.

Personally I miss friends and family. Why am I doing this? I need to eat and also I want to communicate with people through my work. Not fame. If I were anonymously famous, I’d be cool with that completely. IF, and only IF I knew people were admiring the work. Not knowing that would kill me.

Matthew Ingram

I’m very sorry but practically all these people come across as wrong-headed, self-indulgent a$$h0les. If I was a client, giving their hard-earned money to these people, and I saw this film I would be sure to never hire them again.

Matthew Ingram

…apart perhaps from the nice, humble musician guy at the front. He was OK.

Tim

The corp boardroom has always been the death of creative ideas, sooooooo nothing new here. This film is beautifully shot and well produced but I was disappointed when I first saw it. I guess it has some value as a cautionary tale for SVA grads but its a shame this great idea for a film wasn’t expanded upon. it’s rare, but there is some great creative in the commercial space and there are directors/designers who run the agency / client gauntlet and emerge with their ideas intact. ( maybe there will be Wonderland part Deux) It would have been nice to hear from some of those ad veterans to balance out this film. Maybe they could have interviewed someone from the agency side, that really would have shed some light on the process and been instrumental in helping artists run that gauntlet.

At best this film seems a one-sided, naive analysis of the complicated and challenging process of commercial film making. At worst it smacks of resentment and bitterness which sucks to watch really awesomely talented people succumb to.

Gianni

Tim,

Okay, list 3 names of those people and prove your statement is true, not perception based off of face saving PR you’ve read or twitter updates.you sound like a producer or coordinator but i’m merely guessing.

Forgive me. Not trying to pick a fight but I think you might have missed the whole point of the video. Motionographer is full of creative worship. Cream, all day on the internet blogs and such. You might actually be the naive one. Sadly if anything what really sucks is how people are living in facebook/twitter realities. Rather than reality itself. These people are trying to maintain integrity because the minute you lose it in your work, the clients disapear. And when existing clients mismange a project it puts your career at stake. THAT’S being a commercial director/designer.

Buck aint exactly shabby. You’ve heard of them right? ;)

Gianni

Timbo,

And to nail the coffin of naiveté for one more final bang:

Fincher = Bitter
Soderberg = Bitter
Spielberg = Bitter
Brad Bird = Bitter
Lucas = Bitter
Tarantino = Bitter

Seem like a coincidence? I think not my friend. Have you read interviews with these guys? They are pretty much fed-up and have been extremely vocal about this. Time for people to wake up to the real truth not something written by a PR company or some idiotic university pimping film career promises to trust fund kids. It’s irresponsible NOT to prepare students for the reality. Some top schools do though.

This doesn’t mean people should be bitter or unpleasant to be around. It’s just an observation and a reaction to your criticism of the Artists in the film being somehow inhuman for being candid.

Maneesh Malhotra

I would rather have their problem that is work for amazing clients…than complain about low budget work.

Mike Gottschalk

Lotsa guys.

Then Juliet Rios says 22 words, and gets interrupted with the doc’s first rebuttal…

…by a guy.

magaby86

I think the film was shot well and some of the interviewed people had some good things to say. Unfortunately is sad to see that 99% of things were said by men only…

S

my thoughts exactly, otherwise i really enjoyed it and thought it was well done. i appreciated their honesty.

Julien

I liked this film, but there is something disapointing about those interviews. I thought those guys I admire were able to say “NO” to a client.
I thought they were able to defend their work instead of saying “yes” to some corporate crap in order to gain money to feed their art, aside.

That’s what I’m trying to do as a freelancer. Be bold and explain things to my clients. I’m very humble and pretty unexperienced compared to those in the film, but I had the chance to meet some very clever clients who can think, and know why they hired you for… Because YOU are the artist, not them (even if you consider you are doing “commercial”).

The only part where I met difficulties is when my peers (when working with agencies) thought the client wouldn’t get the meaning, or would be reluctant to something… And guess what, when things are logically connected, it rarely happens. But their creativity is crippled by what they suppose the client wants, and as a result they end up doing what they hate…

Anthony Furlong

Not even the top level guys at RSA, Anonymous, etc can say no all the time – even to the point that a lot of them don’t even show up to the edit, much less see anything done in post. This is especially true considering the entire industry has been very slow this year.

I agree with what PJ said – keep fighting the good fight. Believe in what you do and always strive for your best.

And – it’s not always about doing whatever the client says to feed your art.

Sometimes you just have to feed your family. There’s no shame in that.

Julien

I didn’t meant they have to say no all the time, the video just gave me the impression they never have the choice. And I naively thought these top level guys weren’t concerned anymore by what I consider the worst clients…

Of course we have to serve the brand the best we can, and adapting is important. But we are a brand too (to some extent) and we have a style, a voice or a way to put things into play. That’s why the client comes to you and not to someone else… It may sound naive in some way but, as creatives, if we accept to become transparent then where is the interest.

Maybe it lacks a little nuance in some talks, specially on David Lewandowsy’s one, cause I disagree with almost everything he said. But he talks about what he has experienced so…

I totally agree with you and PJ on fighting and staying enthused.

And of course there is no shame about feeding a family, but I don’t place it on the same level of importance than feeding the art. One is vital, so you can’t complain but the other is not. So if a situation is not OK, then you are free to make some change. Don’t you think?

PJ Richardson

Amazing video, it was super top level but a really pleasant broad stroke look at very pure creatives facing the challenges of the approval-by-committee structure of the often watering down advertising system and not always winning. I think the takeaway is to still stick with it and fight the fights regardless and know there will be good days and bad days and somehow stay enthused.

Jon

Great video, Sums up what it’s like to work the advertising business from a creative perspective.

“The work is not our own, it belongs to the brand. it has to elevate them first, then us, second. And its hard for artist to do. they want things to be for themselves. “

mate

so, why all those guys dont quit their job? if I would run a company, have some brand and some thoughts like “I would never make a b/w commercial for my company because it will have a negative impact on my brand” so what the hell somebody would tell me that the b/w spot is ok? thats how it works for years, if you are going to resturant you want to eat something specific, not something other than you just already ordered.

whiskey

It’s always great to hear people openly admit what the industry is, especially when household names are doing the talking.

If making polished work to sell salad dressing gives meaning to your life, you need a damn vacation.

Luke

I actually found this very inspiring. As a young designer, it’s encouraging to hear my idols talk about facing the same problems I do, albeit on a much larger scale. Fighting for creative control is something that every creative struggles with, so it’s nice to hear that these masters of their craft continuously push for integrity in their work. I think it’s naive to think that you’ll ever reach a point where you don’t have to sacrifice some of your soul for the client- such is the commercial world. Hearing these guys pushes me to be strive for originality, because it seems maintaining that youthful wonder for creativity is what sustains you in the long run. Buck forever!

tuesday mcgowan

I have to agree with Tim . . . “beautifully shot but nothing new here.” For me, this short needs more content and development. I certainly appreciate the efforts of the filmmakers but I want to encourage them to dive deeper. The cinematography begs for more gravitas and insight in the interviews. I think this can only be achieved through carefully “curating” which artists you profile and set up some sort of “thesis” to the questions. Ash Thorp’s podcasts with Gmunk and Danny Yount were casual conversations but they added insight to understanding the creative process because they were candid and personal with two artists whose work is legendary. I look forward to “Wonderland 2.”

Adam

This was great and really inspiring. Something that’s been on my mind.

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