As an industry leading editor, Jonatas da Silva has worked on many award-winning ad campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands. However, rather than simply looking at a commercial as a way to promote a product, he believes they are a way to connect with an audience and tell a story that they can relate to. His job, he says, is putting the puzzle pieces together on how to do just that.
“I have to understand which shots, sounds, music, and visual graphics to put together that will craft a message that touches the deepest parts of the human psyche and create the desired emotion. I love being able to combine scenes with music and elicit a feeling, to show loneliness simply by omitting sound or to create panic by flooding the scene with noise. Cutting a single frame too early or too late can impact how a moment feels. I fell in love with the opportunity to create something larger than the sum of its part,” he says.
da Silva began with humble beginnings, born in Brazil and growing up in West Africa while his parents worked with nutrition centers, schools and orphanages as missionaries. He learned to observe the world as both an African and as a Latino, applying those mindsets to his editing, aiming to connect with a worldwide audience. It is this perspective that has allowed him to work with the likes of Google, Instagram, Nissan Twitter, BMW, Frito Lays, Budweiser, Weight Watchers, Coke Zero and many others. His projects have screened in Times Square and have played during the Super Bowl and NBA Finals. His work spreads across mediums, evident with the acclaimed music videos for Australian music sensation Sam Fischer that he was a part of in 2019, and his innate talent combined with his unparalleled sense of drive has contributed to the sales growth and awareness of many top brands and products across the globe.
da Silva began his career editing documentaries, bringing films such as the multi-award-winning Life on a String to life. When he was offered the opportunity to work on one of his most recent projects, the documentary/commercial A Genius World by TXL Films, he was immediately on board. The series, commissioned by the self-help brand of the same name, is about the attributes of a genius, focusing on 24 identified genius traits. An interview takes place for each trait with a person who uses that specific one in their life in an inspiring way.
da Silva was responsible for editing several of the stories, two of which included: Grandmaster Flash, who represented the genius trait of imagination and used it to help invent the genre we know today as Hip Hop, and Madison Stewart, the “shark girl,” who displayed the genius trait of persuasion in her shark conservationist work, persuading fisherman to become tourist guides.
“I gravitated towards this project because I wanted to be part of something that inspired and helped people. The project wasn’t setting out to sell something; instead, it was inspiring others by telling real-life stories of phenomenal people all over the world,” he says.
Working on these documentary episodes was a lengthy process. Unlike scripted projects, documentaries have considerably more hours of footage, since the filmmakers are capturing a day in the life of the subject. Some of the episodes had over 16 hours of footage that had to be watched entirely and selected, as opposed to a commercial that may have 3 hours of footage.
Working closely with director and producer Jimmy Collins, who relayed the client expectation for each episode, da Silva was responsible for the process of getting it to the finish line, and as an editor who focuses primarily on storytelling, that is vital for the success of the documentary as there are no set scripts. da Silva had to know the interview subject inside and out to decide just how to structure the story. Thankfully, his many years of expertise editing documentaries, commercials, and films played a huge part in helping each of his episodes have a strong sense of story.
“It was never just about the trait in my episodes; it was a story about someone who used their genius trait to do something great. The episodes were packed with emotion in a short amount of time because of that.” When asked about his favorite edits, he answered, “My favorite projects are the ones with a social impact or deep message behind them. I’ve been fortunate to work on some phenomenal projects like that. The Bubba Wallace x Root Insurance commercial tackled racism in Nascar. The documentary commercial for Activision Blizzard’s “Level Up U Program” advertised a way for professionals from underrepresented backgrounds to break into the gaming industry. A COVID awareness commercial for Project Sunshine, a non-profit focused on pediatric healing through play, highlighted the isolation of children with medical challenges during the pandemic. And more recently, it has been this Genius documentary series. I loved working on the genius traits because they inspired me as I was editing, so I was sure that they would inspire others when they watched,” says da Silva.
His tremendous work on the Genius documentary series impressed the clients and even though it has yet to be released, da Silva was already invited to work on a commercial for Age of Learning, one of the leading educational programs in the world. He edited a commercial for their ABCMouse program, which is an award-winning early-learning platform for children.
“Being able to help someone is fulfilling to me, and that’s why I love working on both of these projects at TXL Films. Their projects have that rare quality of being inspirational and helpful, even when selling a product,” he says.
The genius documentary series is still in development, but all the episodes will eventually be available through ageniusworld.com. The ABCMouse and Adventure Academy commercials da Silva edited for Age of Learning will soon be available on their YouTube page, which has over one million subscribers.
To stay up-to-date with Da Silva’s work on the upcoming A Genius World series, check out the company’s website.