Darling Films spots new talent, welcome Thea Small
We’d hardly recovered from jumping up and down at the news that Darling’s Executive Producers Lorraine Smit and Melina McDonald are the first dual inductees into the Loeries Hall of Fame when we were hit with even more great news. With a solid reputation for spotting young directing talent, the duo has announced that they have found the newest Darling to join the roster. We started jumping again because judging from the work that Thea Small has shot, we can see why she now goes by the name Darling.
‘We have spent the better part of our careers falling in love with young talent and nurturing them. For us it’s about the magic, the sparkle, and oh boy does Thea have that! We are excited to represent her with the full production backing of Darling.’ – Melina McDonald
Okay, let’s get into Thea… As a director she has a strong eye for performance and a natural instinct for pace and timing, especially when it comes to her comedy spots. Having started her filmmaking career as a writer for Penguin Films, Thea switched gears to researching almost six years ago; first at Velocity Films, then as freelancer and then Giant Films. The knowledge and experience Thea gained collaborating with the country’s top directors gave her the push to launch her solo directing career. And talk about hitting the ground running; her first commercial featuring singer Sho Madjozi won a Gold, 2 Silvers and a Bronze at Bookmarks, okay girl!
Cut to Thea meeting the Darlings as a freelance director. After having worked closely with all the Darling directors in a research or assistant directing capacity over the last few years Lorraine and Melina enlisted Thea to direct the digital spots for Standard Bank. Lorraine says ‘We immediately spotted the talent. She mentioned that she wanted to move to Joburg and direct full time and we said to her if she ever did that we would love to represent her.’ Ring ring Stuttaford’s Van Lines!.
Melina adds: ‘As a researcher, all our directors wanted to work with Thea because she is so strong creatively. One of the main attractions with her is that her work is not that derivative. It has a freshness and is unique in her approach. She is dynamic and strong and knows what she’s after. Her work is of a high quality, polished and she has vision. A really strong aesthetic and a keen sense of storytelling that gets to the heart of any idea.’
Thea Already Did That
The boards Thea has shot thus far have been crafted impressively well. Her work shows a refreshing combination of playful and empowering whether it’s in her performance or visual aesthetic. What you have to know about Thea though is her knack for timing, seriously, her reel made us belly laugh at times and proper ugly cry at others. And she hasn’t been handed the easiest of boards either. Talking head spots like the Stay Free, Aquafresh and Standard Bank can easily go all types of wrong, yet Thea kept us engaged and entertained, making it very much all types of right.
Just when it’s starting to seem that all the directors in South Africa have a serious passion for shooting chicken ads (wink-wink #Nandos #KFC #ChickenLicken), we found Thea’s answer on where her focus lies quite refreshing. ‘To be honest, I feel like I shouldn’t be saying this because I should be saying I love shooting the car ads or the alcohol ads but it’s not true. Give me the female focussed ads! I want to shoot women. I love female empowering ads and I don’t care if it’s a cliche, give me those boards.’ But all the others are welcome too please, adds the Darlings…
Stay Free ‘The Loneliest Aisle’
Aquafresh ‘Everyday Champions of Joy’
Standard Bank ‘Zandi Tisani’
Amy Lilley ‘No Show’ (Official Music Video)
Thea on joining Darling: ‘What I was attracted to about Darling is something that was initially a concern. They represent a lot of women and as a female director in advertising we have been told that other women are competition. As a female director, you want to be on a roster with only men so you are the ‘female director’. I love the fact that this wasn’t an issue for Darling. Many rosters have so many men on them and agencies are able to differentiate between them and Darling have always been able to do that with the women. It makes me confident that they will be able to do that with me. That’s a powerful message; the fact that I can exist there with other women, with other women of colour and still feel I have a voice and I am distinguishable.’
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