Darling Films

Darling by name, Darlings by reputation.


Directors: Chloe Coetsee / Director Kit / Gale Maimane / Jeana Theron / Louis Minnar / Ross Garrett / Slim / Thea Small / Zee Ntuli
Producers: Lorraine Smit / Melina McDonald

Company Website

Well, Darling isn’t exactly the production house you might expect. Rather than a bunch of directors we like to think of ourselves as a group of photographers, chefs, writers, fashion mavens, documentarians, travellers, makers, critics, mothers, sisters, sons, daughters. It’s not only one thing that makes your Darling the one that leaves you both satisfied and wanting more. It’s the sum of all the different parts. So call us Darling. We’d love to chat, about anything really.


3rd Floor, 138 Jan Smuts Ave

+27 11 100 5700

Executive Producer | Lorraine Smit
+27 82 602 1094

Executive Producer | Melina McDonald
+27 83 326 2126

Awarded by IDIDTHAT

Darling Films | Ross Garrett
Pam Golding ‘Farai’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Peter Khoury, Chief Creative Officer at TBWA \ Hunt Lascaris
August 2021

IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Alan Irvin, Director & Co-Owner at They Shoot Films

Peter’s comment: ‘When you tell a story you can use realism or symbolism. The majority of the stories we tell today embrace realism, I suppose it’s the time we’re living in. Ross, however always seems to bring an artful symbolism to his work that makes it captivating, ethereal and distinctive. Faral for Pam Golding is no different. The framing, edit, grade, VO and subject matter all combine to mesmerise you in a story worth watching.’

Alan’s comment: ‘Visually a beautiful film. Every image showcases Ross’s photographic prowess and strong visual eye. I must say, I didn’t feel much emotion for the hero and his love for bees. It took me a while to realise that the beekeeper and the runner were the same guy. In fact, I only realised this after reading the end line. A bit more emotion and it definitely would have elevated the film to winner status. At least that’s my 5 cents worth! Nevertheless, Ross, this is a film to be extremely proud of. On a side note, it’s awesome to see brands like Pam Golding stepping out of their comfort zone and making communication that really sticks out from their competitors. To quote another famous bee lover: “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” —Winnie the Pooh’

Darling Films |  Zee Ntuli
Solidarity Fund ‘Wise Words’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Mpho Twala, Partner and Director at The Rudeboy Collective
July 2021

Mpho’s comment: ‘I love everything about this commercial. Zee has given this spot the right amount of drama, emotion and humanity. From cinematography to the seamless transitions through these well-articulated worlds of characters. Zee represents all that is great in the commercial (filmmaking) space. All his creative decisions are informed by research and an understanding of his market. He’s a reminder why (the future of) advertising is in good hands. A star that continues to rise above the rest, with the work he and his team produce.’

Darling Films | Ross Garrett
Standard Bank ‘Feeding the Nation’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Anton Visser, director at Patriot Films
May 2021

Anton’s comment: ‘Corporate ads can sometimes be pompous and heavy-handed, but I found this piece by Ross Garrett for Standard Bank to be incredibly warm and understated. And that’s what gives it its power. It’s beautiful but authentic, strong but humble. That’s tonally a very difficult thing to pull off, which is why this deserves a Best in Craft for direction. Think of all the ways the execution could have rung false or been pretentious. Instead, the cinematography, performance, music, editing and narration are all used sparingly and in perfect harmony to make a piece that shouts loudly by speaking softly.’

Darling Films | Ross Garrett
VW Amarok ‘Back to the End’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Trevor Clarence, Director at Your Girlfriend
February 2021

Trevor’s comment: ‘Just a gorgeously crafted piece of work. Well done.’

Darling Films | Slim
Aware.org ‘If you Drink, Don’t Drive’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Claudi Potter, Creative Director at Joe Public United
December 2020

Claudi’s comment: “We’ve all become a little desensitised to drinking and driving commercials, which often resort to shock tactics to make us stop and think. But this concept has shifted the focus from the driver to the passenger seats, and it was executed in a way that had the right impact. Kudos to Slim for the sincere performances and simple storytelling.”

Darling Films | Director Kit
Afro Punk ‘Dare to Fly’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Lebogang Rasethaba, director at Egg Films/Arcade
November  2020

Lebogang’s comment: “I just love this spot. When I watch the Afro Punk piece I see a mark of excellence. Director Kit is making such great work, on repeat as if rehearsed she just gets better, stronger, smarter.”

Darling Films | Chloe Coetsee
Savanna ‘Launch’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Fran Luckin, CCO Grey Africa
September 2020

Fran’s comment: “Again with the confessions: this piece of work was done for our agency. But I want to applaud the director here, for using restraint and superb judgement to let the script and the actor shine.”

Darling Films | Director Kit (Co-Directed by Vuyo Mpantsha – ISAD)
Netflix ‘Made by Africans, Watched by the World’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Dani Hynes, Director at Made Films
July 2020

Dani’s comment: “Made by Africans deserves a shout-out for being a perfect blend of excellent art direction, amazing wardrobe, authentic and powerful moments with our continent’s most incredible creators, actors, writers, artists and talent. A compelling and breathtaking showcase for all the world to see. Nicely done!

Darling Films | Ross Garrett
Standard Bank ‘It Can Be’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Sibusiso Sitole, CCO and co-founder of The Odd Number
June 2020

Sibusiso’s comment: “Easily the sexiest bank commercial I’ve seen in a very long time! Ross Garett is obviously in his element, the shots are a menagerie of grades, textures, colours and styles that work beautifully together to create a film that is a credible glimpse into a youthful state of being. The sheer attitude of the visuals, the voice-over, and the shots are so captivating you’re left wanting more. Well done to Standard Bank for being brave enough to make such a stunning piece of film.”

Darling Films | Ross Garrett
Johnnie Walker ‘Trevor Noah’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Roanna Williams, ECD at Black River FC

Judges Comment: “Since 1999, the Johnnie Walker brand has been telling people to “Keep Walking”, inspiring people to think of their own journey of progression. This month Best of Reel for direction, goes to Ross Garret’s, Johnnie Walker “Trevor Noah” which without a doubt inspires progress. Through a fresh, modern fast-paced direction style, Ross managed to honour the brands history, where it has come from, and where it’s heading. If you break down the story being told, it is a very simple one and one we know. But through his loose camera work, dynamic editing approach, old school projector effects, music, sound and visuals, he has managed to create a film that keeps you engaged and inspires you to ‘keep walking’. Nicely done!!!!”

Darling Films | Zee Ntuli
Bonitas ‘Winning , Surviving and Family’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Graeme Jenner, ECD of King James Group JHB
November 2019

Judges Comment: “I saw the running boy ad on TV, which is weird because who sees ads on TV anymore? Not me generally, it must have been half time during the rugby or something, but anyway, it stood out to me. I think it’s the simplicity, the commitment to getting it in (what is seemingly) one shot and the camera being really intimate with the characters in the scene that make it feel fresh and interesting. Sometimes less is more and that’s certainly the case here.”

Darling Films | Zee Ntuli
MTN ‘Autograph’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Neo Mashigo, CCO at M&C Saatchi Abel Group
September 2019

Judges Comment: “The rugby narrative is delivered in an unexpected yet impactful way that gives one ‘the feels’. I love how the director delivered the story of the lone rugby supporter in a family of soccer lovers. Zee got us to root for Die Bokke by drawing us closer to the trials of the lead and touching on our affinity for family bonds. Nice one Zee and team!”

Darling Films | Zee Ntuli
#BlameNoMore A Call for Change
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Nikki Taylor-Garrett, CD at TBWA Hunt Lascaris
August 2019

Judges Comment: “The success of this film relied entirely on Zee Ntuli achieving perfect balance between keeping the story raw enough to do justice to the script and subject matter, but bearable enough to watch until the end. A heavy task handled delicately with thoughtful casting and direction, clever lighting and intuitive camera work from Tom Revington (DOP).”

Darling Films | Ross Garrett
Joburg Ballet X Superbalist ‘Rehearsals for UNBOUND’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Ahmed Tilly, CCO at FCB Africa
July 2019

Judges Comment: “A special mention for direction to Ross Garrett for “Joburg Ballet X Superbalist”. It’s not easy to capture the power of dance. Ross did it as artfully as the dancers captured the emotion of the subject matter. Great camera movement, simple and clean location, uncluttered yet so powerful. Well done Ross. These were beautiful to watch.”

Darling Films | Chloe Coetsee
MTN ‘Springbok World Cup’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Claudi Potter, CD at Joe Public United
June 2019

Judges Comment: “A supporter ad is bound to be a cheese fest, and can easily turn into something that feels more like shared shame, than shared pride. However, Chloe managed to keep the performances real and likeable, and the track is perfect. Getting sportsmen to act like real people also deserves a nod. Love the well-considered opening sequence as well.”

Darling Films | Zee Ntuli
OUTsurance ‘The Calling; Linda’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Fran Luckin, CCO at Grey Africa
May 2019

Judges Comment: “I love the treatment of the voice-over: the unscripted feel and performance give the ad an emotional depth. The hand-held camera, which restlessly alternates between close up intimacy and moving behind and around things, gives a real sense of how a child might experience the events of the story: fragmented, uncertain, but also at very close quarters. The grade and lighting give the visuals a rich cinematic moodiness, turning the humble setting of the home, the hospital and the shop into a theatre for tragedy and heartbreak”

Darling Films | Gale Maimane
Edgars ‘Winter Blues’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Tseliso Rangaka, Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy Cape Town
April 2019

Judges Comment: “I like the unusual storytelling here. The lead is believable and comfortably takes us through the offbeat edit. While one of the most interesting ad soundtracks I’ve heard in a while, weaves around what could have been just another clothing catalogue for Edgars.”

Darling Films | Chloe Coetsee
Consol ‘City, Pool & Bar’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Vanessa Pearson, Founder and ECD at House of Brave
February 2019

Judges Comment: “Chloe at her best having fun, fun, fun with tongue firmly in cheek. Liking the melodrama of these ever so simple spots. No dramatic sweeping or swooping of camera just wonderful direction of simple, single-minded performances. Nicely offset by the choice of music.”

Darling Films | Chloe Coetsee
Nando’s ‘You People’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Juliet Honey, Creative Director at Net#work BBDO
December 2018

Judges Comment: “Another Nandos’ ad that makes us take a good, long laugh at ourselves. Great casting, timing and performance keep it extra spicey.”

Darling Films | Zee Ntuli
MTN ‘The Steve Tshwete Story’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Bridget Johnson, Consulting Executive Creative Director at WICK
September 2018

Judges Comment: “Congrats to Zee Ntuli from Darling Films for MTN ‘The Steve Tshwete Story’. This is a really compelling piece of film. It draws you in with those beautiful, evocative early morning shots on the way to Robben Island and then holds your attention with a combination of interesting framing, considered sound design, edit and a restrained script. Really, really nicely done.”

Darling Films | Ross Garrett
MTN ‘MTN Sounds The Call: The Os du Randt Story’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Kabelo Moshapalo, Executive Creative Director, TBWA\ Johannesburg
August 2018

Judges Comment: “It’s tough having to talk up a project that you have close ties to, but this piece is truly epic. A larger than life story brought to life in the most fitting and meaningful way. A raw and gritty emotional journey of a legend being reborn told through captivating visual metaphors and moving sound design. An old story retold in a way that appeals to a new, younger audience.”

Darling Films | Jeana Theron
MTN ‘The Laurie Kay Story’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Molefi Thulo, Creative Director at Ogilvy Johannesburg
July 2018

Judges Comment: “Last, but certainly not least a shout-out to Jeana for bringing this story to life. South Africans never tire of talking about this particular Rugby World Cup, and this commercial definitely evokes those memories, only here it’s told from the point of view of the pilot who flew a 747 over the stadium. Clever twists in the storytelling and an interesting visual treatment.”

Darling Films | Ross Garrett
Joburg Ballet ‘#BiteSizeBallet No.2’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Roanna Williams, Executive Creative Director at Joe Public
September 2017

Judges Comment: “So, I’m going to be honest. When I viewed this ad, my first reaction was WTF. Then I walked away and got distracted but not for long as the ad kept popping back into my head. I am not a ballet fan at all. But what this piece did do was make me think of ballet, something I have not done in years. So, on second viewing, although it did not have me doing pirouettes or grand jetè’s, it did change my perception of the Joburg ballet. By using popular newsworthy events with an edgy soundtrack and creating bite-sized ballet stints out of them, makes this dance style more contemporary and accessible to ballet philistines like me. I look forward to more palatable #bitesizeballet.

Darling Films | Chloe Coetsee
SABC TV Licences ‘Island’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Jonathan Beggs, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi
December 2015

Judges Comment: “Darling’s Chloe Coetzee directs a quirky spot for SABC TV Licences – with fantastic casting, awkward performances and daft production design….which all adds up to a director that really cares about the details.

Darling Films | Ross Garrett
Ithuba Holdings Lotto ‘Dream Census’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Michael Lees-Rolfe, Creative Director at FoxP2
September 2015

Judges Comment: “What could so easily have been a dull and familiar spot, this piece entitled ‘Dream Census’ feels intriguing and human thanks to beautifully observed portraiture from Ross Garret and the Darling Films team, and for navigating this tricky subject matter so elegantly, the team deserve a special mention.

Featured Work 

IDIDTHAT Editorial

Top awarded South African director Jeana Theron, a filmmaker you’d go to war with

April 30th, 2021|Comments Off on Top awarded South African director Jeana Theron, a filmmaker you’d go to war with

In the last three years alone Director Jeana Theron from Darling Films has been awarded a Gold Cannes Lion and two Loeries Grands Prix. We know right, where are the headlines?! Jeana’s quiet demeanour has perhaps masked her razor-sharp edge and ability to make even the most gruesome storytelling beautiful. In our opinion, this proven versatile contemporary filmmaker has been flying way too low under the radar. So, you probably haven’t thought of Jeana like this, but you really should…

Gale Maimane is now ‘Director Darling’ Official

October 30th, 2019|Comments Off on Gale Maimane is now ‘Director Darling’ Official

Director Gale Maimane’s great eye and raw approach to storytelling have seen her leap from researcher to director. This shouldn't come as a surprise as she’s already been in demand as a director for quite some time and has a substantial reel to prove it. We go behind her WhatsApp Memoji to find out how this rising star is making her unique voice heard.

No she’s not the Makeup Artist! She’s Director Kit from Darling Films

September 7th, 2018|Comments Off on No she’s not the Makeup Artist! She’s Director Kit from Darling Films

We met up with Director Kit to talk about becoming a darling at Darling Films, representation (or lack thereof) of women in the industry, her badass background as a child TV star and why she’s had to say goodbye to her real name, Keitumetse Qhali.