Directing collective Everynone seems to be everywhere these days. Repped out of Epoch Films, the trio -- a.k.a. Dan Mercadante, Julius Metoyer III and Will Hoffman -- most recently stepped behind the camera for a touching series of documentary web films for Prudential and Droga5. The shorts quietly capture men and women on Day One of their lives as retirees as they narrate the confusion, stress, panic and happiness going through their minds.
Around the same time Day One launched, Everynone's short film called "Losers" also debuted, which, through visual vignettes, showed the pain caused by bullying.
But what first put Everynone on the map were the artful promos they created for RadioLab. Hoffman was friends with co-host Robert Krulwich, leading to their first promo, "Words," featuring cryptic vignettes that turn out to be linked by a visual word-association game. "Symmetry" followed, showing synchronicity between two objects, presented through split- screen visuals.
Speaking of symmetry, it's a good way to describe the way the team works. They rarely disagree on the job -- they may have different ideas going into a scene, but usually settle upon the "truth" pretty quickly. When they shoot, they all look like they're doing an extended interview, not filming. And none of them really "believed" in film school, says Hoffman.
Not that they don't have a bit of classroom experience. Mercadante and Hoffman both met in high school while taking a film program at Harvard. But they didn't start working together until they were doing an expository writing class. The first film they worked on was a short student piece called "No Diving," about a swimmer who was scared of swimming.
Hoffman then met Metoyer in a directing class. "We both shared glances and realized [the class] was just weird," says Metoyer.
When asked to describe their sensibility, Everynone can't define it precisely. The work is simple, that they know. Each film features strong voices and discrete shots stitched together by a central idea, like retirement for "Day One" and bullying for "Losers." But those descriptions don't do the work justice. Overall, the films leave an emotional impact that lasts well beyond their actual duration. In "Losers," for example, the final shot of tears running down a girl's face stays with you, creating a deep understanding of hurt that is starkly at odds with the film's bright look. The trio also use sound in an extremely evocative way, cutting down background noise to bring out richness of texture and tone that highlights the story behind spoken words.
"If the core idea is timeless, we're interested," says Hoffman. "Going through change, going through conflict, that's what both Prudential and the bullying work was about."
Scott Chinn, the EP at Droga5 on the Prudential campaign, says Everynone's emotional intelligence was what got them hired for the job. "They are very engaged with their topics," he says. "And they do incredible film-making in limited resources." That sort of work ethic creates footage that is tactile and believable, just what this campaign needed, he says. That approach also explains the trio's name. "We try to make films about everyone and everything, celebrating the little nothings that make something really something," said Mercadante. "In a way, we make films about everyone by focusing on none."
Everynone is now working on a feature film that is about "the transference of energy between things." They can't reveal much yet, although the idea is similar to "Words" and "Symmetry and will connect disparate things with core ideas through film. Yet it also will diverge from their previous projects, they maintain.
"This is a film that can only be a film," says Hoffman. "We're slowing it way down, so we need the time and space that only a film can give us."