Rogaine's "Bald Wingman-Interview with a Client" (branded content)
Sean Patrick Kelly (r) and Steve Figueiredo (l)

Sean&Steve

Cause + Effect

1) How did you get into directing? 
In August of 2013, we had the opportunity to collaborate on writing an image campaign for the Disney XD Network. We had been working on a few original scripts to direct in our spare time, but it was really then that we realized how well we gelled as a creative team.  A few months later that “Walking With Dinosaurs” promo came into Cause + Effect.  We jumped at the chance to prove ourselves. Luckily for us, Jamie and Jason, the principals at C+E, took a chance and really let us run with it...and here we are.

2) What is your most recent project? 
We recently shot a commercial for Paramount Pictures’ “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” which was a really fun opportunity for us. We were really able to embrace the look of the film, bringing in a steadicam and shooting anamorphic on the same Panavision lenses that they shot the movie on. We see every project as an opportunity to learn more, challenge ourselves, and always try to find best way to tell whatever story we’re telling.

3) What is the best part of being a director? 
After years of working in production, it’s nice to be reading pre-pro books instead of making them! Honestly though, we’re grateful that we’re in the position to be paid to express ourselves creatively.  We also take it as an honor to be the leaders of a team of talented professionals working together to make something fun, interesting, thought-provoking...or all of the above.

4) What is the worst part of being a director? 
For us, the worst part of being a director is not being able to shut off at the end of a shoot. As directors, we’re always trying to figure out the best way to make a scene work, or find the funniest way to say what we’re trying to say, and it can hard to shut that off at the end of the day.

5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
Our current focus is on commercials and branded content, but we’re always interested in moving more into longer form narrative projects like features or TV.  We love crafting short form stories with commercials, and really enjoy the process of finding creative solutions for communicating narrative information in the most efficient and entertaining way. It really is special to create something in such a short amount of time.  The only downside is when the job ends. We love being on set.  The opportunity to dedicate ourselves to something longer and bring a story to life is something that really intrigues us.

We specialize in comedy.  Not everyone has the same sense of humor, so the ability to make people laugh through our work is something we really relish.

6) 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?
There have been so many people who have helped us get to where we are and put us on the road to where we want to be: our parents, the principals of our company, directors we’ve produced for in the past, peers.  There really isn’t one person.

We also want to be mindful of how fortunate we are to be in this position, and we know  we have to continue to work hard to get where we want to be. One of the benefits of being a directing team is that we each have our strengths that complement the other’s, and it’s really in the combination of our skillsets that the whole of our team is greater than the sum of its parts.

7) Who is your favorite director and why? 
There’s a ton of directors that inspire us. If we had to pick one (which we guess you’re making us do), it’d be Steven Soderbergh. He’s a chameleon.  He’s a workhorse.  His projects are so diverse in style and subject matter.  He’s never afraid to try new things to  make his work stand out.  He’s on a constant quest to learn more. 

8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
We have such varied tastes. Steve is a cinephile while Sean’s favorite movie is “Home Alone 2”.  That’s what makes us work so well together, having such a wide range of things to draw inspiration from.

One show we really love right now is “Togetherness.”  It’s blend of humor and humanity was just something you don’t see that often in television.  The storytelling and characters were so thoughtful and real, it made you want to follow them and know what was going on at all times in their lives.  We thought it was the best show on TV, so it’s really disappointing that it was canceled. One day we hope to make a show half as good as that (that runs twice as many seasons).

9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
We have similar backgrounds, having grown up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA (Sean) & Rochester, NY (Steve).  We were both lucky enough to come from really great, supportive families.

We met while working as freelance a producer and production manager, respectively.  We quickly bonded over our shared love of movies, pop culture and fast food and it just felt right to take the next step and create together. Both coming up in the production world, we share a similar sensibility and awareness of the push and pull of creative decisions, and their practical consequences. It really helps us to see every job in the big picture, and make the most of our resources on any given project. We’ve learned a ton from everyone we’ve worked with, including what to do and what not to do. At the end of the day we just want to keep learning.

Contact

Contact EP Jason Zemlica at Cause+Effect via email