Jon McNeill: Creative Director & Ethnodocumentarian
Xiamen, China is a coastal city in the Fujian province known for its air quality and prestigious university. I came to Xiamen to document a non-profit that teaches students how to succeed in the business world by introducing them to Americans across different walks of life who have achieved a measure of success within their fields.
Eagles Wings is an extended-stay addiction rehabilitation clinic startup located in the town of Naukati Bay, Alaska. The clinic had funding and was ready to open, but was looking for workers who would be a good fit with the patient population and the mission of Eagles Wings. The video that I created was used as a recruiting tool to find them.
The problem of addiction on Prince of Wales Island (where Nakauti Bay is located) is very real. The community experiences addiction-related deaths every year, including one loss during the production of this video.
Due to the sensitive nature of their work, it’s not possible to share the full promotional video that I created for them, but I can share these stills.
Anchor is a new church launch in Tacoma, Washington. I was brought in to document its first Sunday gathering and interview Lead Pastor Bryan Halferty about the struggles of following his call into church planting.
Danner has the kind of heritage that most brands can only dream of. But when they hired me, they were feeling disconnected from their diffuse customer base and were undergoing an internal focal shift toward lifestyle boot wearers after a recent change in ownership.
To reconnect the brand with its outdoorsy core and make further headway into the consciousness of the style-conscious boot segment, I teamed with Wilderness Collective (a LA-based tourism company that specializes in bucket list-style outdoor adventure trips). Each of their clients for an upcoming trek to summit Mt. Baker (a glacier peak in northern Washington State) received a pair of Danner’s top of the line boots.
The resulting trip and video positioned Danner as the choice for rugged outdoor pursuits and brought their brand to a wider audience.
Alliance Northwest is a regional cadre of churches and charity organizations. Though the organization had a desire to serve and support its pastors and churches, there was an overall lack of engagement from its audience. As Creative Director, I guided their rebranding to highlight what makes them unique: a singular focus on mission, with a Northwest flair.
With a rebranded Alliance Northwest and consistent communication about its resources, the office saw involvement in its services skyrocket, and relations with its audience achieved a greater depth.
The main logo was slightly modernized; I added more balance to the spacing and updated the color to match the new brand palette.
The Alliance Northwest office had an amorphous image in the minds of the people it served; we created three elemental icons that clearly express the office’s three areas of focus.
The Alliance Northwest and Northwest Church Planting sites were completely reimagined, taken into the 21st Century via a clean and easy to navigate design.
The professional yet approachable look continued into new templates for printed documents.
Hattori Hanzo makes premium-quality shears for hairstylists. They came to me with a need for eye-catching content that would create a buzz around their launch.
It struck me that a good haircut is an intimate encounter; one of trust and drama. The concept for “Femme Fatale” sprung from that.
I teamed with my frequent collaborator Casey Curry and filmed the short on the roof of his downtown LA studio, with a skeleton crew and minimal lighting. The combination of the concept and talented actors (Jessie Rabideau in the lead role and Steven Lightfoot as the mysterious stylist) allowed us to wrap after just under two hours. Special thanks to LA’s Paper Moon Vintage for providing the period-correct wardrobe.
People of the Pacific Northwest
Grunge and Portlandia dominate the public consciousness of who populates the Pacific Northwest. But who are the real people who live here, and what are their stories?
To shed light on this, I produced a photojournalistic tour around the Northwest, bringing along photographer Casey Curry to document the tiny stories that contain great beauty from the forgotten, marginalized, and oddball.
The result was a daily Instagram feed (sampled here) containing some of the stories we collected.
David is a cowboy. He's lived all around the NW, from Boring to Joseph, and now at 71 he owns an antiques and Western supplies store just off Highway 11 in Walla Walla. He tells us that a major injury made him hang up his spurs decades ago, and he started this business so he could still surround himself with the equipage of his old lifestyle. "Every customer is a blessing," he tells us. "But I'd like it even better if you bought me out and I could just stand outside and be a greeter, like at Wal-Mart."
Everybody knows Sister Mary. She's the one making free sack lunches every week for people milling around the adjacent park, working to protect homeowners in the midst of gentrification around Seattle's Rainier Valley neighborhood, and self-financing places to live for people who otherwise would be forced onto the streets. For all this, she credits her church home, Holly Park, as the catalyst. "Churches are so important for us. They're our meeting place. They light up the city around us."
Robert has owned his ice cream truck ever since he retired from the Whidbey Island police force, where he served for 35 years. Robert's daughter is disabled. And at a time when he could be living comfortably off of his hard-earned pension from the force, he's instead selling Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches and Sno Kones at Beach Park to pay her medical bills. It's fitting that he displays his police uniform patches behind him in the truck, because he's still protecting and serving, just in a new way.
Tim is a second generation Army veteran, who now lives near Union Station in Portland. He lamented to us that the homeless community doesn't protect each other anymore. "People don't tell you where the best places to eat or sleep are anymore, they want it all for themselves." Many of his belongings have been stolen in the past year. But Tim lives by two rules: "Don't ever lie. And help others out."
Chris got his nickname "Machine Gun" because he plays drums really fast, and because, well, he loves guns. He is a fount of knowledge about firearms, and he takes pride in defying expectations, both when it comes to dispelling myths about guns, and when it comes to himself. "People think I'm a certain type of person because I own guns and look like this," he says. "But when you get to know me, you see that's not who I am at all."
It's 1917. Your head still reeling from enlisting for the war just a few minutes ago, you catch a glimpse of a tattoo shop at the end of the boardwalk and decide to commemorate this event with an appropriately brave tattoo. You step inside... At least, that's how it feels to be in Mav's shop: it's easy to forget that it's 2016. Mav is kind, and fully present while working, which may be why he often gets to play psychiatrist and confessor--along with tattoo artist--for his clients. He sits, listens, sometimes offers advice or assistance. And as the needle punctures the skin thousands of times per minute, a unique brand of trust develops.
Claudia learned how to mountain bike because of the Portland housing market. She would ride her bike around town when she lived in Portland, but then her landlord kicked her out to put the house up for sale. "I decided to move to White Salmon," she says, "and I started biking the Spring Street trails because I could ride right from my house." It's a pretty location--beginning in a dense oak forest before passing a secluded monestary, and finally opening up into cow pastures with panoramic views--but going was tough at first. "Sometimes I'd crash spectacularly and come home filthy and bruised," she says, "but every lap I could ride a little bit more, building my skills and confidence." Now, she feels right at home on the trail, and in White Salmon too.
It's August, and one malicious hailstorm could decimate the crops that spent all Spring growing taller. So there's no calling in sick or slacking off: 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, the whole family works together in a race against time. This is the harvest.
Peter Coppola has lived a life at the vanguard of hair and fashion for over 40 years. I had the honor of creating his biopic, eventually split into five separate videos detailing different facets of his life and career.
With such an impressive resume, the goal was simple: capture Coppola’s larger than life stories, but get beneath the surface to reveal the man behind the icon.
Excerpted here is one portion of the biopic, focusing on two of Coppola’s passions: giving back to the hairstyling community and supporting those undergoing chemo.
The Family Room
The Family Room approached me prior to an important fundraiser, during which they would outline their plans (and budgetary needs) to expand to multiple locations. They were already doing great work in a difficult area — serving parents and children within the foster care system — so the video needed to celebrate early successes and humanize the families for whom they worked.
The response at the fundraiser was massive. The Family Room now has locations throughout the Portland Metro area.