But a tour of that magnitude came with its fair share of highs, lows, mental pressure and physical demands. Netflix’s upcoming documentary, In Wonder, follows the 22-year-old superstar’s journey to self-discovery over the past year, and how he channeled it all into a creative new album.
To capture his story, Mendes enlisted director Grant Singer, who is best known for his work on high-profile music videos such as The Weeknd‘s “The Hills,” Lorde‘s “Green Light,” Zayn and Taylor Swift‘s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” Troye Sivan‘s “My My My” and countless more. “It’s interesting because I come from a world of music video directing where the role of a director is very visible and my imprint aesthetically is large, conceptually and in terms of my role on set,” he explained of filming In Wonder. “Whereas, when you’re making a documentary, the intent is the inverse, to be invisible and just let the moments unfold and witness them without having a hand guide them.
“It was a learning experience for me to really disappear when I was present to make him comfortable so he can live his life without feeling like we were filming,” he added.
The director certainly accomplished that sense of authenticity. In Wonder covers massive musical milestones like Mendes’ sold-out show at the Rogers Centre in Toronto and his sultry “Señorita” duet with girlfriend Camila Cabello at the 2019 VMAs — weaving in how the pop star felt at every turn and his more vulnerable, human moments.
In one of Singer’s standout scenes, Mendes is forced to cancel his Nov. 30 show in São Paulo, Brazil after struggling with a vocal strain. “I felt like I was witnessing something very intense unfold in real time,” he said of the devastating moment. “That is a powerful thing to witness and document, and I felt privileged to be able to be there for that.”
“We build up pop stars to be super human beings, but one of the things this film does is—they’re just like us,” he continued. “They have fears, insecurities, desires as we all do. This film focuses more on Shawn as a person and less on Shawn as the mythology of him as an artist, and I think that’s what I like about it.”
Singer feels that the “In My Blood” star is very much in “the first chapter” of his career, and therefore, spotlighting his journey is more important now than ever. “What you really want to capture is something real, an honest moment,” he shared. “I really wanted to strip things away, where we really get to the heart of who Shawn is and what he’s about and his passion and his character.
“Even if you’re a massive fan of someone, there’s only so much content you have and it’s through a certain lens, through the albums themselves, interviews, press things, photos,” Singer concluded of what he hopes viewers will take away from the documentary. “But I hope this film gives fans access to a very intimate, off-the-cuff way to see him for who he is and who the real Shawn Mendes is in a way that gives them a terrific, expansive scope.”
In Wonder is available to stream on Nov. 23 on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.