Jonatas Da Silva Talks Passion for Editing and Working on Popular Music Videos
Jonatas da Silva believes his upbringing created a passion for film and television that he still carries with him today as an internationally sought-after film and commercial editor. Born in Brazil to missionaries, da Silva spent his earliest years growing up in Guinea Bissau, West Africa, with a rich and eclectic cultural upbringing that nurtured his inner artist and love of stories.
“We had no electricity in Guinea Bissau, so instead of watching TV at night, my friends and I would gather around the fire, drink warga (Arabic tea), and tell each other folktales, jokes, and stories of bravery and perseverance. I was fascinated with the true stories about the recent war for independence – how the men from the Fula villages, with their machetes, used their knowledge of the forest to fight off the Portuguese with their guns. Or the bravery of the Balanta women in fighting alongside their men,” da Silva described. “Those fires sparked my passion for storytelling and my desire to master the craft. I wanted to captivate and inspire my audience the same way these stories captivated and inspired me. I decided to pursue a career as a filmmaker because I felt it was the best medium to share the stories I wanted to tell. Instead of a small circle of listeners, my hope was to reach thousands.”
Reaching thousands may have been the goal, but nowadays, da Silva’s work reaches millions. Working with award-winning Director Wesley Walker, their Bubba Wallace commercial for Root Insurance premiered in Times Square and went on to win Gold at the 2022 Anthem Awards for “Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion”, Silver in the 2021 Clio Sports Awards, a 2021 Webby Awards nomination, among several other awards. His work on the commercials for Frito Lay and Budweiser have been shown during the Super Bowl. He worked on the official NBA campaign “Non-Stop” that was shown in the finals. He speaks five languages – Portuguese, English, French, Creole, and Spanish – and showed off his versatility working on Spanish commercials for Nissan, Twitter, USPS, and Coke Zero, and his work on music videos for Australian singer-songwriter Sam Fischer have amassed over 2 million views on YouTube alone.
Much of da Silva’s impressive resume showcases his talent in editing commercials, but his work on music videos for Sam Fischer exemplified that he can never be pigeonholed into one medium. Initially, he was approached by Dalmatian Cow Productions to take part in editing live performances of Fischer’s original hit “This City” and a cover of Tate McRae’s “You Broke Me First” due to his success in editing the production company’s feature documentary Oroville. For the music videos, da Silva worked alongside renowned Director Matthew Palmer to capture the story of the songs and the rawness of a live performance.
“I didn’t look at the music video as just stringing shots together. I wanted to tell a story with the shots. To bring the viewer into the world of Sam Fischer and make them stay until the very last frame. It can be easy to fall into the trap of only caring about how a piece looks, instead of how it feels. Sam Fischer is a moody singer, with deep emotions in his voice. His voice is the star here, and that’s what I wanted to highlight as it needed to be at the center of these music videos. I think this project found so much success because we were able to do that in the end,” said da Silva.
Music videos require a different workflow than commercials, but da Silva was up for the task. He first had to layer all possible shots over the music track and then begin a process of selecting the best camera angles. This method allowed him to see all camera options he had at any point in the track, so he could just toggle between all the cameras and choose which angle suited that moment. But for da Silva, this wasn’t just about aesthetics. He had to carefully feel the music to know the right moment to cut to a different angle, as the emotion in both songs called for longer takes. He let each shot play out, so viewers could really get into the lyrics and the voice instead of being distracted by the edit.
This approach more than paid off. Not only have the videos been a great success on YouTube, but Billboard even mentioned “The City” music video on a piece they did on Sam Fischer. MTV and Apple music also featured the “You Broke Me First” video on their channels. da Silva is proud to have been such an integral part of this continued success.
“It feels great to know that I’ve been part of a project that is touching people’s lives. Users really loved the music videos, and seeing their comments of how moved they were by it is really encouraging. It feels great knowing that I’m helping Sam Fischer in a small way to get the recognition he deserves. That’s always the goal as a commercial and music video editor, to make sure that your work helps the client be successful, and I’m happy I was able to do that,” he concluded.