Using Disruption to Inspire the Creative Process

A freeway car crash is not what you’d expect to help trigger a great car ad, especially one with a kid behind the wheel.

But film alumnu and co-founder of Everdream Joe Sill ’13 along with co-CEO James Khabushani (a USC graduate team) and fellow Chapman University alumni found a smidge of serendipity when the two cars their team of filmmakers was traveling in were hit by another vehicle on the 405 Freeway last summer. There were no injuries, but without transportation for a spell Sill says a world of distraction fell away for the Everdream team and creative energy took its place.

Put in park by the accident, they turned their focus to a fan commercial they wanted to make for Tesla, a car maker they love for its imagination and innovation. Suddenly they had extra time to think about cars, watch a lot of car commercials and tackle the challenge of making a really sweet car commercial with limited finances.

The result? They ended up making a really sweet car commercial. “Modern Spaceship” is a one-minute fan commercial that encapsulates that childhood dream of wishing the family car into a rocket ship, at least for a brief imaginative journey.

 

Best of all, Everdream’s commercial for the all-electric Tesla Model S sedan has caught the attention of auto and advertising bloggers, racked up 86,113 YouTube views in one week and won an official thumbs up from Tesla, which tweeted “Recent college grads sent us this stunning video and formed content agency, EVERDREAM. We had to share it.”

The attention has elevated Everdream’s profile, but Sill says the upshot of the experience was learning to go the distance with what you’ve got.

“We knew we wouldn’t be able to match the scale of mainstream productions, this realization allowed us to open up the creative process- to discover and design our perspective in a manner that could be put into sustainable action. It was empowering, allowing our collective the opportunity to try and be different,” say Sill and Chief Creative of Everdream RJ Collins ’12.

 

Extending Collaborative Energy beyond the Classroom

That kind of collaboration did not happen overnight, though. Producers James Khabushani and RJ Collins ’12 and directors Joe Sill ’13 and Andreas Attai say it has its roots in their undergraduate years where they forged relationships that propel their careers today. The sheer number of Chapman alumni on the team – Chief Creative RJ Collins ’12, DP Arjun Prakash ’13, Gaffer Dave Cortez ’14, Grip Ryan Summersett ’13, Mishka Kornai ’13, Zach Wechter ’13, Dan Carr ’13, Aman Singh ’14, Bobby Moser ’13, Pasqual Gutierrez ’13, Michael Barth ’13 and Ben Mullinkosson ’13 – speaks to the staying power of early working relationships.

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“While in film school at Chapman we really learned how to be collaborative and supportive of the colleague and teammate standing next to you. There was a great spirit of innovative energy among my peers,” Sill says. “With Everdream we are trying to make sure that culture will extend beyond film school, so the transition between student work and professional work is fostered in a supportive environment. Not only does our team consist of our directors, but friends and collaborators that are producers, cinematographers, editors, production designers, and other crafts.”

The alums credit faculty like Kiku Terasaki, Jason Lowi, Martha Coolidge, John Badham, David Kost and Cheryl Hendry with instilling a work style that taps into everyone’s creativity at every step in the process. It’s an approach they still use as professional filmmakers today.

“In a broad stroke, Everdream is a collective brain trust of creatives. Even though individual directors will spearhead a project, the entire team of creatives will flesh out an idea as if it were their own – thereby removing the individual ego and expanding ownership of each project – hence why we credit each project ‘Directed by Everdream’ instead of the director’s individual name,” Collins says.

 

“Our goal is to create a platform for a steady inflow of work with brands and clientele in the music, arts, and entertainment industries for the people we’ve worked with throughout our time at Chapman. Thereby allowing us all to cut our teeth on real professional work – and push each other to strive to be better at our craft, collaborate stronger, and as we grow, we continue to pull new creatives from graduating classes.”

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The proof of that ethic permeates “Modern Spaceship,” he says.

“We knew we wanted to focus our concepts on the future, on dynamic and evolving lifestyles—on progression. Space has a universal futuristic quality to it, and that’s ultimately where we went. Eventually we evolved countless ideas into one—the one you see. We hope it resonates and stands out with greater impact beyond that of superficial images of cars driving in unrealistic fashion.

While Everdream relished the visibility of “Modern Spaceship” won them, they were already at work on several other projects, including shooting a John Mayer documentary in New York, a short film for Google Glass on its Captions application and two Lindsey Stirling music videos, as well as partnerships with Troy Carter.

But even as Everdream grows and expands, Sills says it will hold to a strategy of all-aboard collaboration.

“Tesla, for us, was kind of that first proof of concept that this method can work,” he says. “That young creatives can connect to top-tier professional brands and tell compelling visual stories for them.”