Locky (A.K.A Lochlainn McKenna) was born in Cork City, Ireland and first met us just down the road in Kinsale having scored a hat-trick of Shark awards that year including the Best New Director gong.
Since then he’s gone on to win another handful of Sharks and this year has been invited back to judge the music video section.
His music video for Daithí’s track 'In My Darkest Moments' was shortlisted for a UKMVA and won two Irish YDAs. Another video for the same artist also snagged a Vimeo Staff Pick.
Commercially he’s worked with brands such as Guinness, Toyota, Heineken, eve Sleep and Sky.
His work tends to focus on the minutiae of relationships and he strives to tell stories with heart at its core.
Repped by/in: Kode / UK
Awards: Best New Director — Kinsale Shark Awards
LBB> What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?
Locky> I’m always looking for scripts that show a unique perspective on life. But really I get excited by any script that has heart at its core.
LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?
Locky> After doing some brand research and watching previous spots and content I will always dive into image researching first. As soon as I feel like I’m on the right track I accumulate as many images as possible, file them properly (Dropbox is king!) and then get into writing up the text in a word doc before ultimately bringing the jigsaw together in InDesign.
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?
Locky> I think it’s important to get a good grasp of the brand and their marketing history but ultimately my job is to make sure the script I’ve been sent is delivered to its fullest potential in the context of this campaign. Brands can have their hands in so many pots these days that you need to be careful not to presume a tone based on a previous campaign. Best to focus on the task at hand!
LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?
Locky> It’s an obvious answer but whenever I’ve had the opportunity to work with really intelligent, passionate creative directors that’s always made the process a dream. Saying that, I try and run a very collaborative set and love to hear what everyone has to say and how we can collectively contribute to creating the best piece of work possible. So, with that in mind, I’m as keen to hear from (and work with) account managers and copywriters as I am from DOPs and production designers.
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?
Locky> I’m mainly interested in telling stories about humans and how we connect with each other. Stories about: relationships, families, heart-break, survival, courage and love. I’m fascinated by time and how we choose to spend the time we’re given on this planet.
LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?
Locky> It’s funny, if I ever speak to any person outside of our industry the most shocking thing for them I think is the lack of time spent on set! Even if I’m undergoing a very busy period the majority of the time is spent in front of my laptop: designing, breaking down scripts, writing up cast/style/art briefs etc.
LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?
Locky> A couple of years ago I was shooting a TVC for Toyota and I remember our kit van got stolen on the morning of the shoot! We kept calm, ran rehearsals and pulled together more kit from wherever we could. Which we ultimately didn’t need because we managed to get the van back and, incredibly, managed to finish the shoot on time!
LBB> How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?
Locky> I think you have to respect the genesis of the idea and where it’s come from. A lot of thought has gone into a script before it lands on my lap. I think it’s important to know the background and history of a script and be able to work with the client and the agency to remind them why they’re doing things a certain way. I always feel like as a director you can never give more than 70 - 80 percent of yourself to any commercial because if you do you run the risk of being torn apart by mechanics that you have no control over - and that’s not necessarily anybody’s fault, that’s just part of the process. Saying that, sometimes what a creative team need is a fresh pair of eyes and they’re often really grateful for a script re-write so its just striking that balance on a project to project basis.
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?
Locky> I tend to host as many workshops and classes as possible. I think my background is somewhat unique and you never know how useful your own story could be to someone. I don’t come from an artsy family and I didn’t start out with a lot of money so I think it can sometimes be heartening to young people who feel a bit defeat by the system to hear my story.
With that in mind, I think it’s imperative that anyone who has any capacity to help does so. That stretches to everyone and anyone but most importantly those from underprivileged backgrounds and/or from diverse backgrounds.
Regarding working with a diverse talent pool - I’ve always made an effort to be 100% socially, environmentally and ethnically conscious in my work
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?
Locky> I don’t think it’s effected how I work per se. I think it’s been interesting to watch the obvious and inevitable fads that came and passed (‘lockdown videos’, spike in animation and motion graphics commercials and so on). I do think that this past year has given me an opportunity to slow down and maybe observe things a bit more. I spent a lot of time with my family during the pandemic and I had the opportunity of watching them grow. I think that will find a way into my work naturally over time.
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)?
Locky> I think it’s important to just keep your eye on whatever story it is you’re trying to tell and what format is most appropriate for that story. Obviously in some cases you need to be cognisant of multiple formats and deliverables but the job is simplified when you’re able to focus on one core master film and the content is treated separately. I think every format has its place and though I may have my favourites I can totally understand the necessity to shoot in a certain format for a certain project.
LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work (e.g. virtual production, interactive storytelling, AI/data-driven visuals etc)?
Locky> Ah, I think it might be a popular opinion but I’m eager to shoot on film as much as possible these days - so maybe that’s a reverse answer? Zooms have certainly had their place but nothing beats a PPM in person and I miss pints after a shoot! Is that all a bit old school?
LBB> Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?
Daithí - In My Darkest Moments
I’m really proud of this snapshot of loneliness and ennui in the Irish countryside we created.
I think we nailed the level of repetition necessary to really bring across the boredom and depression the two guys are feeling. We used long zooms into empty spaces to represent a friend who’s missing - maybe a friend who’s gone to college, maybe someone who’s committed suicide - and I think they work really, really well.
Paul Noonan - Glacier
I think this a beautiful example of what two amazing actors can do when given space and time together.
Tesco - ‘Mam’s Lamb’
I love Johnny’s performance in this TVC I made for Tesco last Easter. And the composition by Denis Kilty still brings a tear to my eye. Those strings!
Daithí - Orange
This was a real labour of love. We shot this in one day - with over 80 costume changes and it went on to get a Vimeo Staff Pick - which I’m very proud of.