John O'Hagan comes to us well-minted and iron-forged in his craft. A vet of the industry after 20-plus years of solid directing, he crosses boundaries, borders and genres: a multi-award-winning commercial director and celebrated documentary and narrative filmmaker, he has an eye for beauty but a sense for comedy. Back when O'Hagan was but a spring chicken, he grew under the NYU tutelage of none other than Spike Lee, not to mention Todd Haynes and David Byrne. Now, he is a director in his own right, with a singular unifying feature: versatility. This is underlined by a slew of international awards including the Gold Cannes Lion, a Grand Clio, a Gold Pencil and even an Emmy nomination.
O'Hagan's nascent filmmaker-tendencies showed themselves from a young age, when he discovered he had a keen interest in the observation of ‘everyday life’, preferring to shoot other people taking pictures rather than appearing in pictures himself. This curiosity at ‘bearing witness to’ developed into an innate love of the eccentricities and subtleties of human behaviour. In his work today, the most important aspect of John O'Hagan’s commercial storytelling is the core concept, that inspiring idea that sits at the centre of its story. This is perhaps the defining feature of O'Hagan’s work: a desire to combine the heart of an idea with the human/actors’ interpretation of it, in order to discover a new and deeper humour and humanity.