Sandulela Asanda and Meghan Daniels join Butterfly Films [INTERVIEW]
Over the past 13 years Butterfly Films has established a reputation for being a team of filmmakers that always approaches the work with humanity first. Being around them you can’t help but be energised by how they live and breathe filmmaking. This is equally true for the latest two directors to join the Butterfly family; Directors Sandulela Asanda and Meghan Daniels.
‘At Butterfly Films we don’t call you ‘makeup’, we call you by your name. Life’s just too short to work with *rhymes with farceholes* which is why we surround ourselves with wonderful warm humans who are fiercely talented. Meghan and Sandulela are just that.’ Says Butterfly’s Founder and Director Anna Telford.
Let’s meet them!
Meghan began their career in the industry working as an intern for our good friends at Zootee Studios. Meghan says: ‘Seeing a group of the most incredible femme filmmakers doing such great work in the film industry really inspired me.’ Meghan went on to work as a researcher for South Africa History Online before lecturing a third-year multimedia journalism production course at UCT. But it was when they began working freelance with the creative agency AndPeople that Meghan’s filmmaking career really kicked off. Having worked with brands like Adidas, Nike Global and YouTube as well as with culture platforms like Boiler Room and the Fader, Meghan joined the team at Butterfly in 2021.
Adidas ‘Artist On The Rise: Ayanda Jiya’
Adidas ‘Artist On The Rise: Lucasraps’
Adidas x Totalsports ‘Ashlynn Erasmus’
Of their work for Adidas Meghan says: ‘I always take a participatory approach with these projects – overlaying the talent’s handwriting on images, incorporating handycam footage taken by the crew and talent involved. The projects look like collaborative visual diaries where you can see everyone’s ‘mark’. This approach is meaningful to me because stories are never told in isolation – they are created and built as a community and I always try to honour and celebrate this.
Sandulela Asanda’s started her creative career working at the Cape Town Film Market and Festival. She then went on to work with Elias and Cait Pansegrouw who produced her latest short film at Urucu Media. In 2019, Sandulela won a short film completion for the 2nd edition of The Pitch SA, which cemented her desire to fully commit to writing and directing. Her short film, Nongqawuse, received a critical review and was selected as the South African entry for the Escolas section of the BRICS film festival 2019. Sandulela most recently participated in the Queer Writers’ Incubator with mentors such as Jenna Bass, Gabe Gabriel and Kelly-Eve Koopman. In 2021 she directed a music video for Stiff Pap and Moonchild Sanely and shortly after its release, Anna from Butterfly approached her, and the rest is history! She’s been winning pitches left right and centre from the word Go at Butterfly.
Youtube ‘Raise A Voice’
Ngomso ‘Stiff Pap feat MoonChild Sanelly’
Butterfly Founder Anna Telford says: ‘We cannot wait to reveal this gem to the world. Sandulela is so talented and she’s not afraid to discuss sensitive subjects that are long overdue in mainstream discourse. Today’s Advertising needs Asanda.’
Q: As a filmmaker what narratives are you most passionate about?
Sandulela: I love to play around in the sandbox and push some things out of it too. I try and take every project as an opportunity to pull inspiration from different places and apply a fresh approach. As a creative, I want to create the work that I needed to see when I was growing up, work that changes the status quo of what being black, woman, or queer is. Through my work, I think I’ve started to hone in on how this looks and feels. My favourite piece of work is a short film I did on female masturbation and pleasure. I also turned the Bible story of Moses into a science fiction drama about fertility rights and poverty. I want to be known for taking risks, but more importantly, for expanding the horizons of how our stories are represented on screen.
Meghan: No matter what brief comes in, I always interpret it in my own Meghan-way, bringing an approach of care and compassion, while making it exciting, contemporary and fun. I love commercial work that takes risks, pushes boundaries and challenges stereotypes – work that is bold, fearless and open to creating shifts and change in the South African advertising space.
I feel most fulfilled when I get to work on projects that entail spending time with my co-creators or subjects, engaging in conversations, looking at how we want to tell this story and why, and what impact we hope that the telling and sharing of the narrative will have. I think of pieces where I have done this before with Manilla Von Teez for Levi’s Pride, Caster Semenya for Nike Global, and a lot of the young artists and creatives I get to collaborate with for Adidas.
Q: What excites you about the South African advertising and creative industry?
Sandulela: Right now, this generation of creatives seems to be redefining what it means to be African and the kind of content that comes from our continent. It’s diverse, it’s punchy and it’s unapologetic, I love to see it. More so, there seems to be a sense of subversion that is happening in the work. Challenging traditional expectations, narratives and form.
Meghan: Everything. There’s a meteoric rise of young creatives in South Africa, all with extraordinary talent and who honour people and narratives through storytelling whether that be through film, fashion, music, art, etc. Our creatives are boundary-pushing and celebrating heterogeneity. Our country still holds a lot of trauma and it’s inspiring to see how individuals are using art forms to navigate this, to create spaces that are more accessible and inclusive, and pushing marginalized voices and narratives to the forefront. Having said this, we are still surrounded with systemic violence and challenges within the film industry, and have a long way to go.
Q: Why join Butterfly Films?
Meghan: I never planned to join Butterfly Films. I approached them for support on a music video and after that they approached me with a brief for a really cool YouTube campaign. Once we had collaborated on that project I just knew that I had found my film family. It was instantaneous. It’s hard to explain these connections sometimes – it just feels kindred, like it was always meant to be. Butterfly Films puts compassion, care, ethics and morals at the core of the way they run their business – they’ve got your back no matter what and will fight with you to create change in this industry, in addition to making beautiful bodies of work. Even when we’re not knee-deep in productions, we’ll be challenging one another in the office but also belly laughing until we cry. At the risk of tarnishing Butterfly’s professionalism, I feel like I’ve found my fellow weirdos. It’s a space that feels like home.
Sandulela:Although they are small, they are mighty. They also handle their directors with an individual and personal approach which I appreciate. They go the extra mile when it comes to their directors. It’s never a ‘No’, but ‘How can we make that happen?’ Not to mention that they are an eclectic group of people with lots of personality and ideas – its an inspiring space to be in as a creative.
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Contact Butterfly Films
Executive Producer: Anna Telford
+27 73 017 1710
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Produced by the IDIDTHAT Content Studio – Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder
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