At the end of last year, Sean set out to challenge himself and convention by creating a cinematic automotive piece with a small and nimble crew. Developing the concept before the pandemic began, he was inspired to tell the story of a man in the city, suffocating from the claustrophobia of everyday life. As he put together the piece, it became clear just how universal this message would be as the rest of 2020 unfolded. In doing so, Sean has captured what we all might be feeling on a daily basis now, “This impulse to get out - and breathe. To just get in the car and drive with no destination in mind, while taking the time to soul search and find that eventual cathartic release”, he says. What he has created, quite serendipitously, is a piece that resonates with our own longing to leave our homes, get back into the world, pick up speed, and feel that same sense of release.
“I’ve always been an admirer of JEEP and was initially setting out to make a slightly rawer proof of concept..." said Sean. "I thought it would be fun to take a brand that we associate with fun and adventure - and flip it on its head and create a more self-reflective, soul-searching journey."
The work fits the build of a polished, cinematic, automotive commercial with a car driving through winding country roads in a montage. But on closer inspection, it takes us on the journey of one man who is reconnecting with the world and his own senses, as he brings us closer and closer to freedom. Sean commented that throughout the process: "we were always aware of trying to mould together an emotional journey for him. That cathartic release, that scream, we couldn’t see it ending any other way - especially given the current climate. It just felt like something everyone could relate to. Then of course, as we were editing into the pandemic, it became even more relevant and relatable. That feeling of staring at the same four walls for months on end has built up all of this pent-up emotion and frustration that we need to feel the wide open and let go”.
Watching the piece, with its sweeping cinematic shots, may look like it was created with a big team and an even bigger budget. In reality it was quite the opposite, Sean worked with a remarkably small team who combined their talent and resourcefulness to bring this piece to life.
“We loved the idea of challenging ourselves to execute a car commercial with a guerrilla crew and nominal equipment. That you don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles” said Sean, but: “as much as we embraced our limitations in regard to our lack of equipment and crew, there were definitely times where we wished we had more. And there were definitely scenes where a larger crew would have had its advantages”. Although, there are benefits of working with a small and nimble team; the limitations forced them to keep it intimate and raw, capturing moments that might have taken 10 PDO’s, full road closures, and likely an entire shoot day if it had been done with a full crew.
Sean is deeply involved in every step of the process. From the initial stages of storyboarding, to drawing out the actor’s performance on set, to the editing room. With experience in his early years working in editing rooms and animation studios, he approaches his work holistically. “I’ve always been a detailed story boarder, knowing exactly what I want before walking on set... The editor in me has also evolved in finding different and distinct rhythms that best tells the story”, he commented.
Throughout his career, he has always approached projects from a story-first perspective. Sean explains: “In my experience, I’ve also learned how important it is to find an emotional connection in everything I do. I think audiences are incredibly astute and can immediately sense whether the filmmaker doesn’t believe in what they're saying - or selling”.
“I’m incredibly excited to explore new opportunities and experiences, as well as continue to grow as a filmmaker”, Sean concluded.
See more of Sean's work here.