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The Work That Made Me: Sean Frewer


Director at Sequoia Content on how Mark Romanek’s 'Closer for NIN had him see music videos in a completely different way

The Work That Made Me: Sean Frewer

Award-winning director, Sean Frewer, has a natural talent for creative storytelling. Prior to graduating from Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Centre Director’s Program, Sean began his career directing and editing music videos before directing animated television series, a few of which were Max Steel and Spider Man: the Series.

Since then, Sean has directed several short films, including “How to Keep Your Day Job”, which screened at many international festivals.  The film was invited to participate in Telefilm’s “Not Short on Talent” showcase at Clermont-Ferrand, and was nominated for Best Short Film at the 2014 DGC Awards.  It is currently available on the Sundance Channel.

Most recently, Sean has transitioned into the commercial world, where his unique aesthetic and visual storytelling have garnered him accolades that include Shoot Magazine’s New Director Showcase, Luzur’s Archive, Best Ads of the World, Strategy’s “Nice List” and a MOFILM London Award and Applied Arts Award.

The ad/music video from my childhood that stays with me…

I don’t know how I saw it (the Cannes Reel with my dad at the local Rep Cinema?) but it was David Fincher’s Smoking Baby. It was so incredibly powerful and effective - yet simple.

The ad/music video/game/web platform that made me want to get into the industry…

Mark Romanek’s NIN’s “Closer”, had me see music videos in a completely different way.  

I think I already knew this, but it reinforced the idea that music videos didn’t have to be about performance, but could be a true artistic expression or interpretation.  That it was possible to visually render and elevate the song into this whole other concept.  Glazer’s work for Jamiroquai and Radiohead were a very close 2nd.

The creative work (film/album/game/ad/album/book/poem etc) that I keep revisiting…

Music Videos: I find myself constantly going back to the work of Romanek. For film, it would be Fincher’s, especially his commentaries.  They’re like these Master classes on his creative process. I also find myself revisiting on a yearly basis: The Godfather I and II, Miller’s Crossing, Blade Runner, Casablanca… just to name a few.  As for books that I revisit, they tend to be collections of photographers or artists - particularly the work of the Impressionists.

My first professional project…

Was a music video for a friend of mine. After I had secured a grant for a decent amount of money, I gathered together a group of fellow recent film school grads - that we collectively produced this huge scale 2 day production in which we took over one Vancouver’s largest nightclubs at the time.  We had a full package truck, 16mm camera and a Sky Crane. It was my first time playing with the real toys. We also had over 100 extras show up for free.

We we put everything we had into that production. None of us took any payment, instead deferring it all into making it as an epic a production we could. It was one of the most fun and creative experiences of my career. Still proud of what we accomplished those 2 days

The piece of work (ad/music video/ platform…) that made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*…

The only thing that really comes to mind that angers me - and most everyone else - is the Kylie Jenner Pepsi commercial from a few years back. That said, I think anything completely and thoroughly tone deaf, or that is forcefully trying to be over the top earnest or heavy handed makes me cringe.  These days it’s those concepts that are overly compensating with trying to prove how 'woke' they are.

The piece of work (ad/music video/ platform…) that still makes me jealous…

The first thing that comes to mind - I wouldn’t say it makes me jealous, but rather “in awe of” - are 2 of Seb Edwards work. His Lacoste “Big Leap” and Princes Trust “Learn the Hard Way” which still chokes me up every time I watch it.  It shows how powerful a single shot or two can convey context and emotion.

The creative project that changed my career…

The Urban Beard Campaign.  

The work that I’m proudest of…

The Urban Beard Campaign.  Rather than making a spec, I wanted to do something for an actual brand, so I approached them, told them it wouldn’t cost them a dime - as long as they gave me creative control. I wanted do something that showcased my visual aesthetic with and ability to do comedy.  I then enrolled friends who were also looking to build their reel and had a tonne of fun doing it.

I was involved in this and it makes me cringe…

Very early on in my career I did a music video for a Canadian hip hop group just before they fully broke out.  They were big lovers of anything medieval, so we decided to try and come up with a story centered around something… medieval. Needless to say, I’ve since learned to stay away from high  concept/low budget period pieces.  I’m fairly certain that to this day that video never made the light of day.

The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…

The Hyundai Campaign I did last year I loved for the simplicity and candidness of the moments in each spot.

Find more of Sean’s work here. 

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Sequoia Content, Wed, 25 Aug 2021 08:20:00 GMT