Yesterday, “Séniorita” singer and world-renowned artist Shawn Mendes participated in an exclusive Q&A to discuss his all-new Netflix Documentary, Shawn Mendes: In Wonder.
Mendes speaks passionately about this project and it’s clear to see for any viewer just how much this documentary means to him. The film has everything, from home videos showcasing Shawn’s childhood to walks around empty stadiums in calm full circle moments, just before the explosion of life and humanity that comes with the concerts that he plays. From being a little boy in Canada with a dream to playing sold-out shows in some of the most world-renowned and largest arenas in the world, this walkthrough of Shawn’s life focuses mainly on the time he spent on tour last summer. We get to see the ups and downs he experienced and the sheer vulnerability that we don’t get to typically see in public figures, especially ones as renowned and accomplished as he is. It’s a story about life and dreams, it’s a story about becoming the person that you want to be. It’s a story about Shawn, and it’s a story that allows us to see that the people we admire are just that, real people.
This real-world life story feel of the film was captured entirely by director Grant Singer. Known for his direction of music videos, Grant captures Shawn’s truth in a way that is admirable and real.
“It was less of a documentary filmmaker and subject relationship,” Grant said when asked about the dynamic that he and Shawn created within this project. “More about, I think we became friends. I think that I developed a trust with you, where you felt like, ‘My story is in good hands.’ This portrait is in good hands. It’s not someone who’s going to make an indictment on me, this is someone who’s going to capture me.”
Shawn agreed, showcasing how much it meant to him that Grant felt strongly about capturing this. It’s so easy to turn stories into objects when it comes to the lives of people in the spotlight, but this is not the case with Shawn Mendes: In Wonder. “I think it’s also interesting too, because as an artist it’s very easy to believe that people want to take advantage of you and play into the sides of you that the media wants to eat up,” Shawn stated. “But I know Grant, and I know how he is about art. And if there’s anyone who’s more specific about art being art, I mean, you are much more specific about it being art and not having it be turned into some sort of thing that the media is going to love and the media is going to be like, ‘Check this out, look how people are talking.’ It’s more about it being like, ‘This is a beautiful story, this is a beautiful piece of art.’ I know that that’s important to you. and I know that you were never going to turn it into a thing for people to have drama about.”
The full-length immersive experience gives us insight on Shawn’s performances, struggles, and joys, as well as his relationship with singer Camila Cabello. During the film, Shawn describes the journey that the two have embarked on as trying to take a picture of the stars with a phone camera. Sometimes the most beautiful things just aren’t meant to be captured, they’re meant to be seen and lived through within the moment of time that they exist. The two have been nothing but expressive about their relationship and love story since it began back in July 2019, and the film showcases more about who they are behind the scenes. Shawn talks about the little moments the two share in the film, specifically talking about how the camera captures so many different seconds of their days yet, yet we only see what makes it into the film. The shoe ties, the stolen kisses, and even the nerve filled exhale that dim the lights in an entire stadium.
“But the interesting thing is that it’s not easy to capture your patterns as a person in live time.”
“I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for me to watch that back in 30 years, though,” Shawn said when asked about the vulnerability associated with introducing this aspect of his life to the world. “Because I can imagine that it’ll be breathtaking for me. But the interesting thing is that it’s not easy to capture your patterns as a person in live time. When I got off tour, it’s now been like a couple of months in the middle of making my album. I’m going in to hang with Grant and watch some footage, it’s my first time seeing it all. And I’m really seeing how much pressure I’m putting on myself. And it was kind of beautiful because I was really able to kind of have this love and respect for myself that I wouldn’t have had without the movie.”
Vulnerability is a word not unknown to those in the spotlight, but one that the world rarely sees within them. We see how hard it is to separate yourself from the person you are, and the person behind the screen. “People are constantly asking, ‘how do you feel, what about this in your life, what do you think about that?’ And you have two options, you can either go on autopilot and come up with these automated responses, or you can, every single time someone asks you that, come up with an answer.” Shawn said. “And that constant questioning of how I feel about things, what is the pressure of fame, what is the pressure of this and that and how does it make you feel, really makes there always be a dialogue happening internally. And yeah, I mean I also found that there were times in my life that I was completely consumed by my success and by how many followers I was getting on Instagram and how many likes each photo was getting. and I felt like it was driving me into a place where I started to identify with my success before identifying with who I am as a person. It was starting to really kind of hurt me, especially in the midst of that documentary and you can feel, it’s probable, the amount of pressure that I put on myself at all times.”
It’s not often we get to see people in quite the light that this documentary shines, which is what is so unique about the way it was created. It’s an experience, unlike any other documentary you’ll see.
Experience the immersive look at the life of Shawn Mendes for yourself, Shawn Mendes: In Wonder is now streaming on Netflix. Check it out here!