Director and Content Ninja Markstry Joins The Star Films Company
Markstry, or ‘Mark Strydom’ if you have a bit more time on your hands, recently joined the esteemed team at The Star Film Company. This Director prides himself in being cut from the content cloth. We put our feet up as he spills on the thrill he gets from working with impossible deadlines, sticky budgets, small crews and combating countless obstacles on set.
Markstry has a natural ability when it comes to timing and is heavily influenced by urban street culture, which is really what you want from a Director who needs to have his finger firmly on the content pulse. He is more than competent with a camera and his obsession with lenses means you’re guaranteed that sexy look. Plus he’s probably one of the most positive guys we’ve come across in the industry in a long time.
‘I love advertising. I’ve never had a board I don’t like. I’ve always seen it as an opportunity and I’ve learnt to treat everything with respect and hopefully it shows in my work.’ – Director Markstry.
Over the years Directors have had to pretty quickly adapt to the changing industry landscape. Gone are the days of shooting on film for those epic TVCs with those equally epic budgets. Welcome to 2019 where every ad needs to live on a million different platforms simultaneously without actually being the same ad. For many it could be easy to gently rock back and forth and rue the day they enrolled in film school, but not for Markstry.
iDidTht: So, what exactly does it mean to be a Content Director? Like, how do you define content in your world?
Markstry: Content is anything that lives on a moving screen. It’s stills, commercials, vox pops, hashtags, gifs, it’s everything, it’s even a Snapchat filter! And it’s up to us to use these things creatively before other people do.
Markstry hit the ground running as a researcher and 5 years in he made the move into directing, which also happened to be around that joyous time when industry budgets got slashed but clients still expected premium work. But Markstry remains positive about the transition: ‘I think it just comes down to using technology properly. You can shoot on more cost-effective cameras and it will look equally as good, if not better.’ For Markstry it’s always been about being smart with the budget you have and never wasting what’s on the cutting room floor. But it’s really his understanding of how people are consuming all types of content constantly that gives him an edge. He doesn’t simply look at directing one ad, he looks at the potential of all the ad’s pieces: How it will look on Instagram, if there’ll be a version for Facebook, will people share snippets of it on Twitter? For Markstry it’s about the bigger picture and that bigger picture is made out of a million shareable little play buttons.
iDidTht: Markstry is a pretty unusual name, talk us through it.
Markstry: Markstry was my @ handle for Instagram, Twitter etc. and then became my nickname and I kind of just decided to go with it.
iDidTht: Love it! Now look, we’re fools and didn’t exactly know how to say it correctly. Could you please pronounce it for us so that never happens again?
Markstry is obsessed with the first 6 seconds of an ad, which caught us off guard, as it’s not something we’ve ever really heard or thought of. In order to stop an audience from clicking the dreaded ‘Skip Ad’ button, Markstry maintains that it’s his job to create as much intrigue as possible right off the bat so you don’t lose the viewer. This is in stark contrast to the days when the last six seconds of commercials packed the punch and the all-important pack shot. Of course to him, it’s all pretty simple: ‘It comes down to basic storytelling and enticing the audience. I feel like people think anyone can do content, but it’s not true because there’s a brand behind it and you need to understand how that brand lives on all these different platforms. You need to be experiencing the brand from the get-go but it doesn’t have to be on the nose or anything like that, you can still do it in a classy way and that’s my approach to directing content.’ What sets Markstry apart from most Directors is the thrill he gets from the impossible. Impossible deadlines, impossible budgets, impossible boards and impossible mishaps along the way. He’s a problem-solver at heart, whether it’s commercials or online content, Markstry is always looking to get the most out of every single board – any client’s dream come true really.
iDidTht: You’re not just thinking about each individual shot, you’re thinking about where each piece of content will live. With that in mind, what is your dream brief?
Markstry: I hate seeing great footage go to waste, so I love vignettes that tell a story.
iDidTht: What? That is the first time we’ve heard that answer, usually it’s ‘Big budgets please’. Break down this vignette thing.
Markstry: When you have a vignette, you can break these stories up so they can be pieces that tell a bigger narrative at the same time and live on different platforms. That’s the kind of thing that excites me.
iDidTht: So why the move to Star Films now?
Markstry: The caliber of Directors at Star Films, straight away, speaks for itself. When it comes to the type of work they do you already know you’re gonna get premium content.
Content Means Happiness
Apart from the obvious allure of joining one of the most badass film companies out there, the fact that his wife, Ksenija Strydom-Micic, is an Executive Producer at The Star Film Company, certainly came into play.
Ksenija: Markstry is meticulous and considers every aspect of the job. Everything is thought-through but he is still willing to listen to ideas on how to make it better. He loves anamorphic lenses and thus his work is very cinematic and he enjoys pushing colour. He’s quick and light on his feet and incredibly agile – he’s everything you’d expect from the King of Content. Yes, I call him that!
Below are some of Markstry’s favourite pieces of content.
Markstry on Edgars: ‘Ever since I had a kid I love them even more now. I think it’s because you never really know what you’re going to get out of them until they’re in front of the camera. The way you craft them is interesting because they’re not actors, you have to give them something fun to do. I also felt that kids hadn’t been shot in this way before. I shot them as if they were influencers and made them cool. So when they go to school they can be like: ‘Yass, I was in that Edgars ad’ and not get teased.’
On a personal note, we also really loved how Markstry treated the pack shots in this ad. Pretty refreshing to see this aspect of retail handled in such a cool way.
What Object In The Room Would You Be?
After chatting to Markstry, we thought this guys is kind of like a Swiss Army Knife – full of solutions on the move. Now not everyone in the industry will have the time to spend an hour with him, so we decided to play a game called ‘What Object in the Room are You?’ An efficient (and downright scientific) way of revealing the man behind Markstry to the industry (we’ll bill you later).
iDidTht: What are you in a kitchen?
Markstry: The oven, because there are so many things that can be created in the oven.
iDidTht: In the garage?
Markstry: I would like to be the car, because you can leave and go anywhere.
iDidTht: In the hotel foyer?
Markstry: A designer armchair.
iDidTht: We would never sit on you Markstry!
Markstry: Ha thanks! No, I just love armchairs.
iDidTht: In the bathroom?
Markstry: The toilet, because I can take a lot of sh*t from clients.
iDidTht: Spoken like a true Director!
Because budgets are often less for content, crews end up being smaller, deadlines closer and mishaps way more likely. But Markstry’s experience has taught him to thrive under these nerve-racking conditions – no job too small or too scary. He is the all-rounder born to play in the trenches of all things content. A client’s dream and a millennial’s BFF. Markstry the Swiss Army Knife you’ve always wanted, or oven, depending on what room you’re in…
Produced by the iDidTht Content Studio
Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder
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