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The Directors: Casey Hennessy


Darling Films director on a passion for cars, geeking out on research and being naturally open and collaborative

The Directors: Casey Hennessy

Passionate car director Casey Hennessy has an unwavering ability to create films that are dynamic and exciting while maintaining a sense of intimacy. This stays true across all her work, from documentary driven films on female race drivers to slick cinematic car spots. 

Previously working as an art director for an advertising agency, Casey’s ability to see a concept right through production is at the heart of what she does. She has directed films for global clients including BMW, Microsoft, Jaguar Land Rover, The Telegraph, W Series and Renault F1. Her most recent commercial for W Series and International Women’s Day celebrated women in motorsport on the road to Formula 1.

Casey continues to develop her narrative projects alongside her commercial work. Her latest self-written short film TREACLE TOWN, funded by the BFI / Genera Film Fund and produced by Freya Films has gone on to win Best Editing at Little Wing Film Festival and touring the film festival circuit. Casey has also been selected for the BAFTA Crew x BFI NETWORK 2021 programme - a year-long scheme to help support filmmakers working towards their first feature.

Casey is a forward thinking creator who brings her Midlands warmth and charm everywhere she goes.

Name: Casey Hennessy

Location: Birmingham, United Kingdom

Repped by/in: Darling Films, Ridley Scott Creative Group

Awards: Best Editing (Little Wing Film Festival)

LBB> What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them? 

Casey> My true passion is cars, I’m a bit of a petrol head so anything involving cars I am there! That being said, as a female director and writer I am also an advocate for pushing women forward in worlds traditionally carved out for men. The W Series film I shot exploring female racing drivers fits into both of my passions perfectly!

LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot? 

Casey> The first thing I’ll try to do is find out what the original client brief and how I can play into it. I like to create my own mini brief once I have the script that asks questions like, how can we make this stand out? Are there any exhausted clichés in this area? What are my parameters? I always find I work best when I distil my thinking. From there I usually have some seed of an idea which kickstarts my writing and visual research. I also like to switch up my environment and talk to people when I’m working on a project to stimulate new ideas. 

LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it? 

Casey> That’s one of my favourite things about our industry, you get to become an expert on whatever you’re working on in that moment. I love geeking out on research! I’ll read as much as I can, look at competitors and get into the mindset of that particular audience either from talking directly to them or stalking their socials! 

LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why? 

Casey> Tough one. I wouldn’t say there is one key person because every relationship can contribute to a great ad. And when I say relationship, I’m talking about talent and professionalism.  

LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to? 

Casey> I’m definitely biased to anything involving cars, extreme sports, dogs and the outdoors! And I care a lot about championing people/communities in unrepresented spaces. I also want to shoot more comedy which is a genre I’m working in with my narrative work.  

LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong? 

Casey> That I can only do what I’ve already shot. That’s my pet hate with the industry, needing to see an exact piece of work on the reel in order to think the director is capable of doing the job.   

LBB> How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea? 

Casey> I think I’m naturally quite open and collaborative because at the end of the day, the client is paying. But it’s about picking and choosing which creative battles to fight and I think that just comes from experience. In an ideal world the agency will help fight your corner if they believe in your vision.  

LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work? 

Casey> There’s a lot of fear and pessimism around new tech, especially with people fearing that their job will suddenly become redundant. I see both sides to it. I love everything tactile and the craft you put into the physical world but I also think it’s important to embrace the future because these technologies aren’t going away no matter how much people hate on them. For me, I see them as a tool to experiment. I decided to learn more about AI and created a photo series in my free time based on images of my car. It was just a fun experiment where I knew I could create something playful without needing a shit load of time/money/people. (AI is great in the sense it’s accessible to those without certain privileges). The images ended up attracting the attention of BMW who then shared it on their Instagram. It’s important to stay relevant but at the same time, ideas will always be the most valuable currency. 

LBB> Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why? 

Casey> The film I shot for W Series exploring female race drivers and the history behind the sport, I got to really dig into what drives these incredibly talented women and the battle they have to succeed in a male dominated world. My recent AI photoshoot for BMW as mentioned and a film I shot for BMW M5 which is a blend of beautiful car pornography and high speed racing!

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Darling Films - UK, Wed, 08 Mar 2023 10:11:02 GMT