iDidTht: How did this blessed union come about?
Jonathan: I started putting feelers out for a new Co-director for Phi and people started suggesting Matshepo. I read her bio and thought ‘She sounds just like me!’ She was totally speaking my language. At the time she was living in Cape Town and I was in Joburg. I phoned her in January and said that I would very much like to meet her. Then I phoned her in February. Then I phoned her in March. Then in April. Look Cape Town has a lot to answer for and she was incredibly busy at the time but I finally got her to meet me in Joburg and…
Matshepo: …And we got on like a house on fire!
iDidTht: Don’t lie! Really? All that calling, surely set off some crazy-alerts?
Matshepo: Haha. No. I was so busy, but finally one day I just said ‘Okay Jono, I’m booking my flight to Joburg.’ The next day we had breakfast followed by lunch and we just spent the whole day together talking non-stop. And it was only really after that, when I got back on the flight to Cape Town, that I thought ‘Okay I’m in!’
iDidTht: What is the kind of work you want to create with Phi?
Jonathan: We have a lot of similarities in terms of our strengths, like performance directing and writing. But I also love visual effects and I didn’t always have the opportunity to explore that. Our approach is to do work that nobody has seen before and that’s all about allowing for an expansion of imagination more than anything. And I also love where Matshepo’s interests lie, it’s very exciting.
Matshepo: I like dark, gritty, cinematic and moody narrative commercials that have a storyline that leaves something to the imagination. I would love to push boundaries visually and in terms of narrative and even take things into the third realm of dark fantasy or speculative fiction.
Jonathan: Good answer!
iDidTht: Um, we’re not sure if this is a Stranger Things reference, but what is third realm?
Matshepo: It plays in the field of anything but reality.
iDidTht: Ooh we’re gonna totally use that: ‘Oh, this conversation has gone very third realm!’ or ‘Donald Trump is so third realm right now!’
Matshepo: Haha, yes exactly!
iDidTht: Jono, while at Star Films you’ve been co-directing under the name Phi for over three years, but Matshepo what does Phi mean to you?
Matshepo: There’s a magic to it. In Phi everything works in opposites and it’s about the synergy of opposites and the need for duality in anything in life. There’s beauty and magic in that because that’s where real creativity can spawn from. Just having the power of numbers behind you and how that puts you in a whole different space mentally is powerful too. It’s new, it’s fresh and it’s a way to look at advertising and the work that we do from completely different perspectives while having a balance in-between. And it’s also because of our different experiences and perspectives of the world and the discovery of what that world is that I decided to be in a co-directorship rather than go out on my own. And I think that’s what our biggest goal is: to explore those differences so we can push the boundaries and each other.
Jonathan: That pushing aspect is probably one of the most important parts of it. It doesn’t matter what age you are, what business you’re in, you can become complacent and you can think you’ve reached a goal, but actually no, you haven’t pushed far enough. And that’s what Matshepo is gonna do with me and that’s what I’m gonna do with her.