After three consecutive years winning ‘Ad of the Year’, 7Films celebrates work that means something

When Creative Circle announced that the Ad of the Year for Film would be awarded to 7Films for the THIRD year in a row, we knew we needed to touch base with the seemingly unstoppable team (or just touch them, you know, for good luck). We caught up with 7Films Founders; Executive Producer Nina van Rensburg and Director Lourens van Rensburg to celebrate this momentous achievement, talk about their love of creating work that matters and introduce the latest addition to their team.

Let’s just start off by getting real for a second; 7Films is that group of people at the award shows or industry events that always have their arms spread wide open, ready for a hug with a big warm smile on their beautiful faces. You just can’t get nicer people okay. So when we heard they’re slaying on the award stages, we couldn’t be happier to spend time with them.

iDidTht: ‘Guys before we can even congratulate you on your wins, we first have to congratulate Lourens on being announced as a jury member for the ‘Film Technique: Direction and Cinematography’ category at this year’s Clio Awards.’
Lourens: ‘Ha, thanks so much. The last four months have been an incredibly busy time for 7Films and we’re really humbled by it all.’

iDidTht: ‘It really has, which brings us to your big news – Three Ad of the Year wins for Film in a row – what juju is this and where can we get some?’
Nina: ‘Haha, we wish we had juju!’

iDidTht: ‘Did you have any idea you’d win again this year?’
Lourens: ‘No, we definitely didn’t know going into it. There was some amazing work that all had a really good chance of winning. It was a pleasant surprise but it was definitely a surprise.’
iDidTht: ‘Were you there to thank us in your acceptance speech?’
Lourens: ‘Ha, unfortunately we weren’t as we’re busy on a new big project for VW with Ogilvy Cape Town which we’ll be working on for 6 months all around South Africa.’
iDidTht: ‘Now that’s a legit excuse, congrats again you show-offs!’
Nina and Lourens: ‘Thanks!’

And The Winners Are

Mercedes-Benz S-Class ‘Return to Chapman’s Peak’
Creative Circle Ad of the Year 2018: Film 

SurfShack ‘Salt’
Creative Circle Ad of the Year 2017: Film 

Surfshack ‘A Good Drowning’
Creative Circle Ad of the Year 2016: Film 

iDidTht: ‘Apart from beautiful storytelling and being longer format commercials, what do these three winning pieces have in common?’
Nina: ‘I think they’re all about things that matter, things that have meaning and stories we should be telling.’
Lourens: ‘Audiences worldwide have grown up and people are more interested in stuff that means something rather than just trying to entertain or sell something. The bar has really been raised in this genre and it’s something that especially appeals to 7Films.’
Nina: ‘In saying that, we won’t turn down a traditional 30second TV ad either.’
iDidTht: ‘Spoken like a true Producer!’
Nina: ‘Haha indeed. But yes, there has been a shift. I think clients have realised that they have a responsibility, or at least I’d like to think that. I think that if you don’t stand for something you fall for everything. Some things have to be important to you and within these stories that we find ourselves in, there is stuff that really matters.’

iDidTht: ‘Are you noticing that more of those kinds of briefs are coming in?’
Lourens: ‘We are. For us, as a production company or as storytellers and Directors, it’s really exciting because you’re helping giving birth to something. But also clients, agencies, and audiences are engaging with this kind of content a lot more and there’s a lot more energy and enjoyment around it.’

iDidTht: ‘And where are these pieces mostly flighting?’
Lourens: ‘VW, like Merc, will only live online. There might be little bits on TV, but strangely enough they are using the 30second TV ads to drive the viewer to the longer content online. In the old days it was the other way around.’
Nina: ‘I just want to say, because I know that Lourens won’t, the amount of love that goes into longer projects like these is unbelievable. Lourens puts in so much of himself. That was something that Lourens also mentored the late SJ in – ‘When you’ve committed to doing something you have to do it properly.’
Lourens: ‘Yeah, our industry is so challenging, even being consistent is not good enough, you have to be great all the time. It’s as simple as that.’

Director Siphiwe ‘SJ’ Myeza was a son, brother, friend, partner and award-winning Director at 7Films who’s life was cut short far too soon at the start of 2019. His death left a hole in the hearts of everyone in the industry, especially the team at 7Films. As a Director, SJ had only just begun his beautiful journey, but his work will thankfully stay with us. The latest TVC for Gillette, worked on by SJ, was released this month: A touching story about a young man raised by his grandmother and the outcomes of his upbringing. This was the last piece SJ directed and edited before his passing and unfortunately, he never got to see it flighted – a truly beautiful and honest piece of work.


Nina: ‘Gilette for us is a piece with real meaning. This content matters. It addresses a serious issue and it’s something that has to change. It’s something that people need to know about so that they can tolerate each other more and have a greater understanding of each other. I think it’s amazing when a brand and client comes in and says ‘This is important’. Sometimes it’s not always on a global platform, sometimes it’s just locally and that’s cool because we have so many differences as South Africans that need to be addressed. If there are ways that we can work together and that we can understand each other better we as an industry have to help.’

iDidTht: ‘What’s the secret to creating great work with meaning?’
Lourens: ‘You start with the great idea but there has to be chemistry between client, agency and the production company or storytellers. In all this work that is the continuous element and that is so crucial. I’ve learned over the years that if you get that right you’re going to create special work.’

iDidTht: ‘7Films has been around for so long, always pushing and driving transformation and change in the industry, what are some of the changes you’ve noticed in the last three years?’
Lourens: ‘We’ve invested a lot more in people, in other words storytellers, Directors, production, etc and the thing we’ve noticed is that we are working with people who are multi-skilled and multi-talented. You’re not just a filmmaker anymore. Now you have to understand the client’s side and needs and what they’re trying to achieve from a marketing level on all the different platforms.’

Introducing the multi-skilled, multi-talented, Comedian, Writer and 7Films Director Lazola Gola

That brings us to the latest addition to the 7Films team; Director Lazola Gola. You might recognise him from Television or a comedy stage near you, heck you might even know him as comedian Loyiso Gola’s brother. Lazola’s career started as a Copywriter with Ogilvy JHB, FCB JHB, and Hellocomputer. Since then Lazola has become one of South Africa’s freshest stand-up comedy acts, performers and TV writers. Around 5 years ago Lourens and SJ were directing Lazola, who they had cast as the lead in a commercial project they did with Black River F.C. The two were struck by Lazola’s interest in the technical side of the storytelling process, his ability to find humour in any moment and his natural talent for storytelling. For SJ and Lourens these were incredible gifts that could not be taught and they decided then and there that he would be an ideal candidate to mentor as a Director. The duo told Lazola to contact them once he was ready to make the move into directing and 5 years later, in true millennial style, Lazola slid into Lourens’s DM’s on Instagram and by the end of 2018 he had packed his bags and made the move from Joburg to Cape Town to join 7Films. Since then he has already been working hard to build his portfolio and we couldn’t be more excited to see what this young gun brings to the industry.

iDidTht: ‘7Films has always focused on mentoring young talent in the industry, what’s the trick to pushing young Directors to reach their full potential?’
Lourens: ‘When we mentor talent, I can’t give them more talent than they already have, that’s between them and the Big Boss, all that we can do is nurture, mature, guide, encourage, protect and make it professional so that someone can make a living out of it. But that initial spark and talent – when you see it, well it’s beautiful and it’s pure magic – myself and SJ noticed that in Lazola.’

Nina and Lourens started 7Films back in 2007, with the late SJ joining the ranks as partner soon after. They regard themselves as ‘not just a business, but a home to an array of multi-talented and vastly different Directors.’ Above all the team wants to do great work while not settling for mediocre or average. They enjoy a challenge, breaking the mould and doing things a bit differently. They love pushing the industry forward, driving diversity and above all creating work with meaning. Oh, and they’re damn nice people too! So if you like that stuff and you don’t hate it when a production company wins awards ALL THE TIME, well…call them!

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View 7Films’ Profile on iDidTht
Executive Producer: Nina van Rensburg

Produced by the iDidTht Content Studio
Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder

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