Director Bongani Morgan, the real story guy on the rise

It’s been almost a year since Bongani Morgan joined the team at Made Films and he’s hit the ground running. While collecting awards for his documentary Map1mp1 and TV show, The Braai Show with Cassper Nyovest, Bongani spent most of 2022 travelling across the country directing for the likes of Vodacom and Red Bull and months directing his new series for Showmax, shot across the entire KZN region. Now finally back home in Joburg, and available for commercial briefs again with the powerhouse backing of his production team at Made, it was time for a catch-up.

When you meet Bongani, you quickly realise that he has the ability to make those around him feel totally at ease. So, it’s unsurprising then that the work he’s been directing over the past year all contain a similar theme of South African people sharing intimately of themselves. That is Bongani’s strength; getting people to go there with him as a director and speak their truth and their story authentically. No matter the genre or whether the stories are associated with brands in commercial work or being told in a series or documentary, it’s clear why he’s been commissioned to direct the work on his reel.

Q: What was it like working on the latest Red Bull commercial with Siya Kolisi?

Bongani: It was a beautiful initiative. The message of possibility should be for everyone, the possibility that dreams can come true, that is very powerful.  The team approached me based on the work I did on Map1mp1 (the documentary about Springbok’s Makazole Mapimpi) and I jumped at the opportunity. I am always drawn to work that is centered around character, children, sports and story, and this is sort of where it all converged. And of course, Siya is a dream to work with, so kind and professional. After Map1mp1 it was kind of like I was completing my Springbok’s hero’s list, haha.

Siya Kolisi on set for ‘Red Bull Roots’ directed by Bongani Morgan.

Watch ‘Red Bull Roots’ with Siya Kolisi here.

Q: What have been some of your highlights in the past year?

Bongani: There have been so many, working with the team at Made has been a true highlight and of course seeing the success of some of my previous work. It’s been a very rewarding year. I also loved shooting a 7-episode campaign for Vodacom which we travelled across the country to shoot and met incredible South Africans along the way. I’m also really excited about the work I shot at the end of last year, unfortunately I can’t give away too much but it’s a series for Showmax set around the Zulu Kingdom. We spent a lot of the time last year shooting the series all over the KZN province, it was a remarkable experience. Although the series still feels like my voice, the tone and subject matter are quite different from the work I have done in the past, so I’m looking forward to getting it out there.


Q: Now that you’re done travelling and shooting your series for Showmax, are you back and available to do more commercials work?

Bongani: Absolutely. I’ve done quite a few commercial spots with Made since I joined but with all the travelling for my series work, I felt like I haven’t had the opportunity to really settle into commercials work. I’m excited for 2023 and especially to work alongside Dumi, Dani, Mel and the rest of the Made talent.

Bongani on set for Vodacom’s Barleader campaign.

Q: You shot your doccie Map1mp1 and your doccie on sports stars from the area titled ‘Rural Diamonds’ in the Eastern Cape, now you’ve just returned from KZN, again working with non-actors. How do these experiences affect you as a commercial director?

Bongani: It has instilled in me a deep love for directing performance and given me a strong guiding hand to finding the story through my performers. I love this country, I love its cultures and I try to understand and learn as much about them as I can, something which helps me a lot when it comes to working with non-actors in this country. Ultimately, I want to showcase to the people of the world that the South African creative economy is on the boom, it’s rising.

Q: What has always drawn you to commercial directing?

Bongani: Again, I love this country. I have to tell its stories and commercials are such a powerful way to tell stories. You need to get to the core, the heart, of the narrative very quickly, sometimes within 30 seconds and at the same time you have to sell a brand. It can sometimes be challenging but it’s very fulfilling.

Q: What inspires you to direct?

Bongani: Everyday South Africa, its people and cultures. It’s so rich and there’s so much story out there.

Q: What’s your current media diet?

Bongani: A lot of South African content. A lot of really strong Afrikaans dramas, unfortunately I can’t speak the language but am really enjoying work like Donkerbos. Of course, internationally there have been some great films recently; Everything Everywhere All at Once is a tremendous feat of storytelling and performance directing and Spielberg’s The Fablemans, a true coming-of-age story, any film buff would love it.

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072 781 4625

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