Cassandra Brooksbank joins Hey Wonderful
Hey Wonderful signs action-comedy directing sensation Cassandra Brooksbank.
Her philosophy: “My No. 1 rule is don't be boring.” To that end, Brooksbank has directed high-octane spots such as Pepsi’s Selfie, which features Lionel Messi combing through a crowd of adoring fans before one captures his attention; Rexona’s Cab Hell, depicting a nightmarish morning commute with whiffs of a scene from a Hangover film; and General Tire’s Vegas 2 Reno, capturing the grit, quirk and adventure of the longest off-road race in the US with a spot that plays like a scene from a Tarantino film.
“The first thing I look for is courage in advertising,” Brooksbank explained. “I love bold, brave creative that isn’t afraid of going for it. People have to live in the real world every day. I aim to give them something that provides an escape and shows the world in a heightened light.”
“Cassie’s film and energy are magnetic, her work jumps off the screen and really cuts through the clutter,” said Sarah McMurray, Hey Wonderful’s Partner/Executive Producer. “She has such a clear POV as a filmmaker and isn’t afraid to push her craft, as a result her film fires on all cylinders and feels developed well beyond her years in the industry. And as a woman, I’m particularly proud and excited to support a female director in the predominantly male-dominated genre of action/comedy.”
“Michael and Sarah have an amazing pedigree and give off the clout of a big company but are boutique enough that they can focus on their directors and build careers,” Brooksbank said. “They’re a great combo, with Michael’s background in sales and Sarah’s as a line producer, they cover all the bases and know how to get their hands dirty doing the actual job. They’re not figureheads. I love how involved they both are.”
“When I saw Cassie’s reel, I knew I was seeing something special,” said Michael Di Girolamo, Hey Wonderful’s Founder and Managing Partner. “The most fitting description of her work is one word: badass! Influenced by some of the goats I worked with early in my career at Propaganda and Anonymous, Cassie’s work stands out for a remarkable ability to bring the cinematic conventions of action and comedy to commercials. She also understands performance and how to work with celebrity talent, the time limitations and nuanced direction that go into a great performance.”
Brooksbank is a graduate of UCS film school who was initially a history major before doing an unofficial boot camp at the school’s Trojan Vision TV station which saw her accepted to USC’s film program… on her 6th try. Her work at Trojan Vision involved things like interviewing Steven Spielberg and George Lucas who are among USC’s famous alumni. She also began researching her favourite films, pointing to Bad Boys, Top Gun, Snatch, Kill Bill, Fight Club and Pirates of the Caribbean as early inspirations.
“I started analyzing who exactly was making these movies and their techniques and quickly realized, ‘Oh wow! These guys came up in commercials. I’d love to do the same thing!’”
Right out of film school Brooksbank started her own production company, The X-Collective, where she directed projects direct to client and built her reel. She caught the attention of Great Guns Founder and CEO Laura Gregory who signed her and brokered her first large scale action-comedy work. (Great Guns continues to rep Brooksbank in the UK, Asia, and rest of world.) So how does she pull off those big productions? Her technique is rooted in storytelling, with early experience as an editor, and she prefers doing action scenes in camera and then augmenting with VFX. Proficiency in production tech isn’t just cameras, lenses and rigs, she explained. “One of my closest mentors, Hugh O’Brien, is a stunt coordinator and talking through what’s possible with him really helps me bring the creative to life.”
She is repped by CAA for film and television and is set to direct the action-comedy My Masterpiece with Sylvester Stallone’s Balboa Productions in 2024. Academy Award nominee Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Movie Film) will star.