Face-to-Face with iDidTht: Featuring Zipho Dlangamandla from Bioscope Films
It’s been one hell of a couple of weeks for this country, so coming face to face with Director Zipho Dlangamandla could not have come at a better time for us. The restaurant where we meet him and his mentor, Bioscope Director Hylton Tannenbaum, presumably specialises in cutting onions because tears were shed, but also hugs were exchanged and friendships were made. Zipho is a beautiful, empathetic soul, and although we would love this piece to be about how we wish there were #MoreMenLikeZipho, he is also a damn fine Director and we have a job to do gang!
“We shy away from talking about so many things and I believe that is why we are building a generation of monsters amongst men… The whole ‘boys will be boys’ thing, that is how you create monsters in society.” – Zipho Dlangamandla
Since joining the Bioscope team in 2017, Zipho quickly grafted his way up to an Assistant Director working closely on all Bioscope’s productions from boardroom to set. But he knew deep down his talents were rooted in storytelling and so did the Bioscope family. And, less than a year ago, he rightfully took up the position of Director. In such a short period of time he has produced thoughtful and well-crafted commercials and short films, showcasing not only his capacity as a Director but also his emotional intelligence, warmth and charisma…something no film school can teach you.
Major throwback – growing up in the East Rand, Zipho was a kickass sportsperson, especially excelling in javelin, shot-put and discus and even made the provincial team, but he couldn’t help being drawn to the arts. After a few nudges from his teachers, he proved his worth on stage. Zipho went on to win several performance awards and after travelling abroad as an actor he realised that storytelling was his true passion. Zipho recalls where the bug first bit him: ‘My mom was born in KZN and my dad is from Joburg. He was a Joburg Zulu, not as tough as a Durban Zulu, ha-ha. So I got to grasp both sides of being Zulu by visiting family down in Durban. I remember so clearly how I used to love listening to them all telling stories. As a little kid, I would sit for hours and hours listening and asking thousands of questions. I think that storytelling just always stuck with me.’
After losing both his parents at a young age, Zipho’s relationship with his brother became central to him and the career path he would follow. As fate would have it, Zipho was cast in Bioscope Director, Rio Allen’s piece, for Carling Black Label.
Zipho: I always wanted a platform to talk about the relationship I have with my brother especially after losing both our parents. My brother was a major influence in my life and I’m very grateful I turned out the way I did – headstrong and focused.
Zipho Dlangamandla Did This
YOCO ‘Just Start’ Campaign
Zipho’s campaign for Yoco was not only featured on Andy Rice’s 702 show and given a special mention by Ahmed Tilly on iDidTht, but it also nabbed a Loeries finalist … um, not bad for his first year directing.
iDidTht: This was your first solo campaign as a Director, tell us about the process.
Zipho: The commercials dealt with doubt and insecurity – it’s about the voices in your head, the inner critic. It was parallel to what I was going through starting out as a Director, so I really resonated with this piece.
Hylton: After this campaign Yoco’s leads doubled!
Zipho: It was 3 stories and the main piece. We shot it all in 2 long days.
iDidTht: Are these real stories or did you use actors?
Zihpo: We chose real stories and businesses that were visually appealing. I then spent time with them to understand their stories and if they could open up to me. To me it didn’t matter that they weren’t actors, it was about being truthful about their experiences and fears so that the viewer could relate to them.
Hylton: He really took them to a place where they felt at ease to open up when the camera was rolling.
Zipho: I think what really helped me connect with the performers is my background as an actor and my experience in theatre. I have an understanding of the language to use when speaking to actors and that makes a big difference especially when you want to put them at ease.
‘Boys Have Feelings Too’ Short Film
This short film, written and directed by Zipho, beat out about 15 other films and won the Best Emerging Talent award at this year’s Bokeh Fashion Film Festival. The story is very close to Zipho’s heart and extremely relevant in the current climate.
Zipho: To a degree making this film was a form of therapy for me. I felt it was a story that needed to be told. We shy away from talking about so many things and I believe that is why we are building a generation of monsters amongst men – always being told that a man doesn’t cry, but for me it doesn’t work that way. The whole ‘boys will be boys’ thing – that is how you create monsters in society, that’s how you create hard rocks. But these rocks can’t be supportive, nobody can get through to them, they are not strong, you can’t lean on them, they are useless. It’s up to us, as filmmakers, to bring these stories to the foreground.
‘Jozi my Jozi’ Short Film
Another piece Zipho wrote and directed this year based on his experiences living in Joburg CBD.
Zipho: Joburg CBD has this energy that pushes you to do so much more. I remember when I decided to stay there my brother said I was insane. But I knew I needed it. I stayed for a year and there was so much energy. Every human being you encounter there is either going to hustle or coming back from the hustle – now you tell me, how do you not want to hustle if you’re surrounded by that? Whenever I felt lazy, there was this one lady who sold fat cakes on the corner of my street. I used to open my curtains and see her there – this old lady, up at the break of dawn and working so hard, and that pushed me so much. One of the lines I wrote in that film translates to: ‘They say Joburg, you kill people. I say Joburg, you keep me alive.’
iDidTht: Time for some shout-outs. You’ve worked so closely with everyone at Bioscope Films, give us the rundown on what you’ve learnt from each of them.
Zipho: Okay let’s do it!
Zipho’s Fausto Shout-Out: With Fausto, the biggest lesson I learnt is that anything is possible. Because of him I have more confidence in the ideas I come up with.
Zipho’s Naledi Shout-Out: Naledi, my Producer, is a beautiful sunbeam of amazing energy. She has become a sister to me. She has taught me that panicking doesn’t help and that’s the kind of producer you want.
Zipho’s Rio Shout-Out: What I learnt from Rio is that it’s okay to be emotional. It shows maturity. His emotional maturity when it comes to his craft is so amazing.
Zipho’s Dan Shout-Out: Dan with his endless puns, ha-ha. He’s a rock, a pillar, a safety net. I don’t know what super power God gave Dan, but it doesn’t matter what budget we have, he will always make it come together.
Zipho’s Hylton Shout-Out: I can safely say, Hylton has become more than just a colleague; he has taken up the role of being a father to me. I even call him Pops sometimes.
Hylton: Wow, are they cutting onions in here?
Zipho: Hylton takes his time unraveling different gifts that I have and things I posses that I did not see and it means a lot to me.
Hylton: He’s the son I never had. I love working with Zipho. I learn as much from him as he learns from me, without a doubt.
iDidTht: Who’s cutting these onions guys?
Zipho: The one thing I learnt from Hylton is ‘story above everything’ and that’s something we have in common; we love stories and we love working with different characters. But you can’t get caught up in all the different elements that come into telling that story and forget about the true spine, it defeats the purpose of why you are creating this.
Hylton: We both love working with rich characters, actors and dialogue. Zipho’s strength is definitely with performance and narrative. He knows how to construct a close up, a cutaway or a matching shot to really support the story. It’s the story above all else with him.
In just over an hour we totally and utterly fell in love with Zipho and we needed it! A brave, empathetic soul, who is talented and focused on the craft while still being true to himself. We have to remind ourselves that we are featuring him as a director and not the poster child of what we want in a bestie, so in his words: ‘I want to create work that means something. That people can relate to. My higher purpose is to touch a life, to teach a life, to educate and not just entertain for the hell of it.’ Give Bioscope a call and ask for Zipho, you won’t regret it…
Produced by the iDidTht Content Studio
Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder
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