“Let me tell you what bugs me of the human endeavor. I’ve never been a human in question, have you?” Well, I’ve never been asked that by an alien girl with a Scottish brogue before. Let me get back to you on that.
Mental Wealth was Chris’ first commercial since he decided to quit the promo scene, and it was such a treat. Continuing along the lines he’s drawn in technological futurism, he makes an alien reality frighteningly believable. Shot on a Sony DV (that’s Digital Video, not film) camera, he grabs us, sits us down in a questioning room, and has us watch this charming, pig-tailed girl with eerily human/inhuman facial features advise us about our own destinies. Wtf?
One thing that’s emerged by now in Chris’ work is his use of stark environments. Like his work for Bjork, Leftfield, Nissan, and especially Monkey Drummer, Mental Wealth’s subject – a girl named Fi-Fi – is thrust upon you by what’s around her: a blaring, overhead fluorescent light, white walls with exposed electric piping, and, again, the realism of video.
Fi-Fi was played by one Fiona Maclean, discovered by Trevor Beattie of TBWA. As you can see, she really is a charming-looking girl, and they really had to work on her to create Fi-Fi. Work on her in post, that is. Shots describes this too well: “Then Cunningham spent two days with The Mill’s Flame operator, Barnsley, designing a look for Fi-Fi. They pulled her eyes apart and turned them inwards, shrunk her nose, squashed her mouth and stretched her body out like a bean-pole.” (Shots, #55) Afterwards Barnsley and effects artist Chris Knight worked over a week to finish the entire 40-second commercial.
Not only that, but Mental Wealth had eight different versions for different countries.
The English version of Mental Wealth is available on Chris’ Directors Label DVD.
Let me tell you what bugs me of the human endeavor
I’ve never been a human in question, have you?
Mankind went to the moon
I don’t even know where Grimsby is
Forget progress by proxy
Land on your own moon
It’s no longer about what they can achieve, out there on your behalf
But what we can experience
Up here and of our own time
And it’s called mental wealth
Do not underestimate the power of Playstation
2000 D&AD Awards
Television & Cinema Advertising Crafts .. Special Effects