The director/producer team have been working alongside each other for over six years at Velocity Films and since their first commercial campaign collaboration, for First For Women, they have never looked back. Anton originally hails from Bloemfontein, but don’t hold that against him, he rose above this adversity and now speaks quite fondly of the experience: ‘Bloemfontein in the 80’s and 90’s was quite an oppressive environment, but if you were slightly different, you could be part of this counter culture, and as a kid, that for me was really powerful and cool.’
And here I thought Bloemfontein was all about biltong, boerewors and rugby. Zayd seems eager to also share his thoughts on this topic:
I have no idea what anyone is talking about anymore, so I encourage us to quickly move on…
After receiving the obligatory call-up, Anton joined the army for a year, or as he calls it ‘boy scouts on steroids’, and thereafter headed to Stellenbosch to study Psychology.
Anton: ’But I just didn’t have the spiritual reserves to solve other people’s problems, so when AAA came to do a road show, I decided to study copywriting instead.’
Zayd: ‘Yeah, from saint to sinner…’
After completing his studies, Anton joined the team at Jupiter Drawing Room and soon realized he had a knack for writing comedy scripts. He left advertising and even presented Going Nowhere Slowly, a travel show, on TV. Anton: ‘They had done a pilot with a bunch of comedians but realized they needed a straight character to give the actual information of the towns. So somebody told them about me and yeah, I was like ‘Hi, welcome to Beaufort West.’ By the sounds of it you’d think he’d have his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by now, but alas, his acting career was short-lived. Anton:‘I then just started hustling, inching my way up the cliff face and directing as much work as I could.’ He then joined Velocity as a permanent director which is where he met Zayd.
Zayd: ‘I’m Cape Town born and bred. Growing up as a person of colour under apartheid, I never thought film was something that I could do. So my story is the exact opposite of Anton’s story.’
Anton: ‘Listen, I don’t know if I actually ever shot at you.’
Zayd: ‘You probably still will…’
They laugh, take the comedy beat and simultaneously sip their artisanal orange juice. Zayd: ‘After high school I finally figured out that in this post-apartheid South Africa, with new beginnings, I actually could join the film industry. My parents always raised me to believe that I could do anything I put my mind to, so it felt like the right time.’ He worked part time and put himself through a small film school in Hout Bay, which closed down shortly after he left. One can only assume it was because they produced their star pupil and there was no point in continuing…
Anton: ‘Yeah, I imagine it was kind of like Trump University’
Zayd: ‘Haha! That’s exactly what it felt like at the time, but it did give me some insight into the industry.’ After gaining experience with Big Blue Productions for a few years, Zayd wanted to venture more into film and joined a crew agency and started working at different production houses as a PA. Zayd: ‘I really enjoyed the nuts and bolts of putting a production together - figuring it out, problem-solving.’ He then joined Velocity and quickly worked himself up from coordinator, to production manager and finally a fully fledged producer.
Anton: ‘So, I was looking for a producer in 2011…’
Zayd: ‘…And we just fit together’
Anton: ‘Zayd’s first big job as my producer was a mammoth campaign for First For Women. There were three ads and one was these guys eating Mentos and they drink coke, and all the coke comes out of his ears and mouth. So we built a rig - a latex face for the guy, with hoses that came up his neck and into his mouth, to then shoot coke out of his mouth. It was amazing!
Zayd: ‘It was the first time it was ever thought of, created and manufactured, all for this ad.’
Anton: ‘So if we're gonna get sincere for a moment, I was super impressed with Zayd. It was a beast of a job, with a lot of technical stuff and he dealt with it amazingly. And then I knew, this guy knows his business.’
I briefly pause as I expect them to do that typical macho guy thing where they get all grossed out by emotion, but they seem totally unfazed, as if complimenting each other publicly is completely normal. I have never wanted to hug two men as much in my entire life! But how well do they really know each other? It was time for the Bestie Challenge.