Monster.com's "Stare" (spec commercial)

Devon Ferguson

Cortez Brothers (U.S.); Birth (U.K.); Suneeva (Canada)

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
Most of my experience comes from winning commercial contests and directing spec spots. I only started getting attention from reps this past year after winning a Young Directors Award for my Monster.com spot “Stare.”

How did you get into directing?
I started as a performer desperate for more screen time (classic desperate actor) so I bought a camera to shoot sketches on the weekends and voila... I became a director.

I never went to film school for editing or directing so I pretty much learned everything from watching YouTube videos and lots of trial and error. (FYI the first camera I bought was a dvx100b which will give you an idea of how long ago that was).

What is your most recent project?
I just finished shooting a Geico spec spot that I also wrote called “Accent.” We had a blast shooting it. I could’ve cut it five different ways because we had so many different alt. versions that all worked, which is really a testament to the great actors that were a part of the shoot.

What is the best part of being a director?
Getting to collaborate with people more talented than me. (Muahahaha!)

What is the worst part of being a director?
I haven’t experienced a ton of “downside” of being a director yet. (I’m very grateful and still feel lucky that people help bring my silly ideas to life) But, who knows? Ask me in a couple of years when I’m out of the “directing honeymoon phase” and I’m only working night shoots in remote places with bad internet (like 1 bar) and freezing my butt off. I might have a different answer then. Actually.... that sounds kind of badass now that I’m reading it.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre--comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
For right now commercials are my main focus. I love the comedy genre and I especially love the challenge that is telling funny 30-second stories. In the future, I’d also like to explore directing/writing longer format comedy.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I wish I had a mentor. That sounds awesome! (lol)

Even without a mentor, I’ve had people within the industry that have been gracious enough to help answer any questions I might have had along the way.

Who is your favorite director and why?
David Shane’s work really speaks to me as well as Brian Billow. I feel like there’s a truth in their work that puts comedy almost second to authenticity. That style works really well and is super relatable.

Also, James Grouse, Martin Granger, and Tom Kuntz’s work is inspiring!

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Succession is my favorite TV show hands down. I love snappy dialogue and Succession is full of it.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
“I started from the bottom now I’m here” would be my rapper answer.

Or.

“I’m just a guy who loves creating and making people laugh who fell into directing after his acting career never flourished.”

Yeah...I think I like my rapper answer.

How has the pandemic impacted your career, art, craft, shaped your attitudes and reflections on life which in turn may influence your work, approach, spirit, mindset?
The pandemic has been a huge benefit in my life. It forced me to slow things down and really concentrate on my writing which I always found difficult because my busy brain would distract me from completing writing projects. When things started shutting down and everyone was told to stay in and not visit others I just started writing. There was something liberating about everything shutting down which is a weird thing to say when the world is ending but... what can I say, I’m a glass half full kinda guy.

Contact

Cortez Brothers (U.S.): Contact Producer, Daniel Vapnik via email
Website
Suneeva (Canada): Contact EP, Geoff Cornish, via email 
Website
Birth (U.K.): Contact EP, Kate Elson, via email 
Website