Meet Director Thina Zibi from Hello Circus

It’s hard to believe that Thina Zibi has been directing for just over two years. But with over a decade’s experience as an Art Director at the top agencies in South Africa and a part-time career as a celebrated photographer, Thina is simply too experienced to be referred to as an ‘emerging director’.

Thina Zibi began her creative career over ten years ago, working as an Art Director and Creative at some of the top agencies including Net#work BBDO, Ogilvy Cape Town, Joe Public United and The Odd Number. Finding time between making ads, her photographic career took off and saw her exhibiting part-time at art galleries across the country. Thina soon realised that her love for filmmaking couldn’t be ignored and she said goodbye to agency life and was given an opportunity to direct TVCs with her previous agency, The Odd Number and the folks at Triple Story Content. I sometimes wish I had left the ad agency world sooner, but when I look back I realise I was always working toward becoming a director. Everything I have done and achieved has led up to this moment. Even though technically speaking I have only been directing for a few years, for me, it’s been over a decade in the making.’ Says Thina.

Because of Thina’s years of experience on the agency side, she brings a strong industry know-how and maturity to commercial directing. Her understanding of both sides of the commercial world, knowledge of how to handle pitch rooms and the importance of client relationships paired with her powerful aesthetic and strong storytelling abilities has propelled her into directing. The amount of work she’s put out in the past two years is impressive, as is the quality.

Director Thina Zibi on set of her short film ‘Faceless’ with singer Gabi Motuba.

‘I bring an understanding of what an agency and a client need in their brief and have the ability to immediately see what their objective is. Before I even put my directing hat on, I think of how I can add value to the brief conceptually, in a way that is still true to their brief. That is very important. I always want to keep the integrity of the work and respect the creative process that the idea has gone through. There are a lot of moving parts to commercial directing and a lot of personalities to support. For me it’s about using all my experiences to facilitate the entire process as best I can.’ Says Thina.

Thina brings a distinct visual language and striking imagery to commercial directing. Her art direction and photography background are evident in her work and in the way she frames her shots. Recurring themes in her short films and commercials include femininity, spirituality, authenticity, but she also brings a quirky off-beat sense of humour that is very Thina. ‘Bakhona’, one of Thina’s short films, received the My RØDE Reel Cinematography award as well as Art Direction award and her Film ‘Bompi’, which she wrote and directed, has been in different festivals around the world. Writing her own Films allows her to stay close to her first love which is ideation.

Thina ALREADY Did That

Department of Education ‘Raising Better Men’

Women in Sport


Game ‘Black Friday’

In her latest piece for the Department of Education, Thina says she focused on her passion to draw out performances and used her insights to direct the characters and guide them to bring the authentic performance you can see in the film. It’s this ability to inject true human experience into her work that her collaborators like to call ‘Thina’s Magic’.

On why she’s has chosen an Agent over a Production House, Thina adds: ‘Intuition and the people I work with is very important to me. Having Vanessa as an agent, allows me to experience different approaches, sharpen my skills and gives me independence. At Hello Circus there is respect for the director’s integrity and goals. It is a partnership where she brings her experience and knowledge and creates a supportive environment for the director to feel safe enough to explore.  It’s wonderful to work with someone who respects the art and to have someone in your corner. We have done a couple of productions together and they have been very successful. Hello Circus has developed a production arm out of necessity for clients who want a one-stop shop. It is fully functional and productions are handled in a transparent manner with the director at the head of the project. However, I am always free to choose my projects and exercise my vision on my terms. I own my career and it gives me the freedom to develop different aspects of my creative self.’

Contact Hello Circus

Director’s Agent: Vanessa Borthwick

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Produced by the IDIDTHAT Content Studio – Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder

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