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At the end of a project, we simply want to walk away knowing we’ve done our very best work, creating the strongest film we could make. But between the start and finish, there’s nothing that simple. There’s the anxiety of pitching your vision to strangers, the unpredictability of production, and the tension of navigating post-production expectations from multiple stakeholders.

Ian Pons Jewell isn’t someone to mince words. As you’ll see right from the beginning of our conversation, he’ll say exactly what’s on his mind, which also says a lot about his creative work. There’s not much in the way of compromise. He’s directed surrealist music videos and short films, and translated that style into commercials that are equally as surreal, for brands ranging from Nike and Audi to Apple and Xbox.

Director Phil Wall works across the commercial and narrative space, with films like The Book Keepers, The Passing Game, and more. One of his commercial clients, GORUCK, is behind one of the most rigorous and challenging athletic competitions on the planet, called GORUCK Selection, which puts athletes through more than 48 hours of physical, mental, and even spiritual torment. So, when they brought up the idea of capturing the competition, Phil knew there was an opportunity. He just didn’t know what kind.

Brands are always looking for the holy grail of advertising: Authenticity. But, it’s one of those tricky pursuits where the more intentionally you grasp for it, the more difficult it is to acquire. By its very nature, you can’t manufacture something that’s organic. And, that’s why brands bring in talented directors like Jane Qian. She’s quickly becoming a prominent name in branded content, through her work with Arm & Hammer, Nike, Paralympics, Chevrolet, and more, and a big part of that is because her work doesn’t seem branded at all.

It’s been 24 years since the last Bronco came off the line at Ford, so the iconic brand knew it needed to make a bold statement for the 2020 rerelease of its off-road workhorse. As their creative agency, Wieden+Kennedy’s internal team collaborated with Musicbed composer Ryan Taubert and Director Salomon Ligthelm to create a sound as epic as the campaign.