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The Directors: Kasey Lum

The Directors 1.3k Add to collection

The Boldly director on discovering a unique visual language, working with technology, and the filmic beauty of darker imagery

The Directors: Kasey Lum

Kasey is a Canadian commercial director of Chinese and French roots. Being mixed-race has allowed him to explore narratives that are uniquely inclusive and emotional.

He sees the important relationship between music, imagery, and pacing. He likes to draw an emotion using classical ways of setting up shots, but isn't afraid of running with a camera when the idea calls for it. His stunning demo reel showcases jaw-dropping samples of his dramatic visual look, shaping his subjects in interesting ways and pushing conventional compositions.

Kasey comes from a background of motion graphics and design. He jumped into the world of filmmaking in 2014, working with Cycle Media as an assistant editor for 2 years. In 2016 he left Cycle Media to pursue directing commercial work. Since then he's directed for clients such as White Spot Restaurants, Okanagan Spring Brewery, BC Cancer Foundation, Sympli, Alo House, Go Auto, and Herschel as well as musical acts like Felix Cartal and Ackee Tecumseh.



Name: Kasey Lum

Location: Vancouver

Repped by: Boldly

 

 

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

Kasey Lum> My favourite scripts are ones with simple stories and minimal dialogue. Setting tone and pace in 30 seconds - or even 15 - is more effective when you have the time to hold on shots, or allow for pauses between dialogue. In addition, finding a unique visual language - whether with camera movement, set design, or performance - is my favourite way to communicate an idea.

 

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

Kasey> When I read through a deck, I get a gut feeling early on about how the visuals should be. If I'm not familiar with the subject matter I delve into research - learning about the brand and the brand's competitors. I make a collage of inspiring still frames in Illustrator to see how I want the spot to look. Sometimes the hardest part is finding the perfect frame to convey an idea, and I can spend hours meticulously watching videos to cull just one or two images, but it’s so rewarding. I then go over the script and make any notes or changes that sit well with me and compartmentalize the concept so the execution is easier to visualize.

 

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?

Kasey> Research is 100% important. It's also important to learn about a brand's competitors so I have a clear idea what is and isn't being done in the market. When informing myself about a brand, I like to do a big portion of research in the field; meeting with brand users and visiting locations. For me, it’s an immersive learning experience that expands from how a brand presents itself online.

 

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

 Kasey> A director's relationship with agency creatives is important. Transparency is so crucial to how smoothly the project runs. I like being upfront, spending time with the creatives -whether on Zoom or phone calls - to bounce ideas back and forth. Feeling comfortable with the people you work closely with makes the whole process feel more collaborative.

  

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?

Kasey> I love clever ideas, and if there’s a twist involved - even better. I tend to lean towards drama because tonally it allows for darker, more intense imagery, which I find beautiful.

  

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

Kasey> A common misconception among directors is that people see a commercial reel as the best representation of our work. Sometimes that is true but often we have to meet the specific needs of clients and agencies and, consequently, the end result doesn’t always reflect our approach. I appreciate when creatives take the time to watch my original narrative work to see how I handle performances, framing, and subject matter - naturally.

 

LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Kasey> I haven't worked with a cost consultant, but I have worked with very good line producers who are amazing at coming up with creative solutions when there are budgetary hurdles.

 

LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Kasey> One time we were filming at a small gas station in a town in B.C. There was only one main road that went through the whole town and it ran right next to the gas station. It was normally a very quiet gas station, with the odd vehicle driving through - and that's why we picked it. Unfortunately, on the day of filming, there was an accident 400 meters down the road causing a roadblock and a lineup of vehicles that stretched for a few kilometers. From where we were situated, we could see the billowing fire from the accident. Things were looking grim. We made a quick decision to frame out all of the vehicles and shot it MOS. It was a rough experience, but in-the-moment problem solving is a big part of filmmaking. You always have to be ready to pivot, be it to save a shot, or to improve a scene because an opportunity presents itself on the day.

 

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

Kasey> This comes back to building a trusting relationship with the agency/creatives. Showing up with an open mind is key, and feeling confident to respectfully defend your vision. For me it’s important to have a discussion when I feel like things are straying too far from personal taste. Once we have established trust, and the agency has hired me for my vision, I feel empowered to collaboratively push the creative to be the best it can be.

 

LBB> What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Kasey> I'm all for diversity. Being a person of colour, I've definitely been undermined—it sucks. Mentoring on set? Love it. I learned everything I know about advertising through shadowing and mentorship.

  

LBB> How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time? 

Kasey> I miss the freedom of pre-COVID life, but love the creative challenge it’s posed in the industry. I’ve found that collaborating with talented people and adapting to overcome hindrances feels very rewarding. I think we'll continue to see Zoom meetings and just general remote work for a while to come.

  

LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)?

Kasey> With so many different platforms, every piece of content must be able to accommodate various sizes and formats. I like to plan for these in pre-production so that we can maximize the story and frame for each different aspect ratio. 

 

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

Kasey> I love new tech and facets of the future, but I wouldn't necessarily include it in my work unless the script really asked for it. I'm currently working on a project that involves interactive storytelling, which is a form of entertainment in which the storyline is not predetermined. A user (viewer or player) experiences a unique story based on their interactions with the story world. You can see that this type of project would require a large amount of work based on how many paths you create. I think work like this is being explored more often and it’s important to play around with new ways of creating. 

  

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


Ackee Tecumseh: Tamagotchi

This was a challenging project, but one I'm very happy with. It was a highly collaborative job - a co-directed piece with my long time friend Jordan Clarke. This project was the ultimate test of give and take, and I feel like we both got exactly what we wanted from the end product—a story that made sense and visuals that were tasteful and experimental.

 

White Spot

This project was a fun experiment with transitions. 123 West wanted to make the world of White Spot lovers feel connected and nostalgic, so we found a way using performance and camera movements to provide practical and seamless transitions.

 

Alo House

This was the first advertisement that I had to travel to another country for. It was a great learning experience for abroad production techniques; finding locations, sourcing gear and crew.

 

Opera (Short Film)

This was a passion project that manifested after meeting opera singer Lara Secord. I knew I wanted to make a film where her voice was the centre point—and build a story around that. The biggest learning curve on the project was figuring out how to best capture intense, high-pitch audio properly.


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Boldly, Fri, 18 Feb 2022 16:48:00 GMT