NEW production company launches – Together Films. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?!

Announcing the launch of a new production company, or any new company for that matter is really not a headline we thought we would be writing in lockdown! After working together for the last five years, Director Malo 8 and Producer Gaye Leong proved that they are not here to play when they shot and produced one of the first commercials to be filmed in South Africa during lockdown, and for McDonald’s no less.

The two will now continue their collaboration at the newly launched production company Together Films. ‘It’s not about who we are anymore, it’s about who people are today, they have changed and brands have to adapt to that. R1 is now worth more to consumers than ever before, as we simply can’t spend as recklessly as we used to. If brands want people to spend that R1 with them, they will have to connect with people more sincerely than ever before. We have to think broader than just issues of social distancing or hygiene on set. Consumers need to believe in and feel connected with brands more than ever, which means creating work that is empathetic and means something.’

Directing McDonald’s in Quarantine

39 days into lockdown and only 3 days after the announcement was made that the country would move to Level 4, Malo 8 walked on set to direct an ad for McDonald’s. It was one of the first commercials that would be shot during lockdown in South Africa. As you can imagine, Producer Gaye had her hands full with rules and regulations changing every day and ensuring that all compliances and protocols were met during a pandemic.

Malo takes us back to his own process: ‘When working on the treatment for this ad, I had to consider that it was being created during a pandemic. You have to consider the reality of life, and how the average person in the country was living every day. It influenced how I shot the job, how I cast, how it’s lit, everything. A person might not necessarily even buy McDonald’s but if they watch the ad, I want the take-out to be that humanity is beautiful and to show the beauty of all of us. That for me is a win and that is very much in line with the ethos of Together Films.’

McDonald’s ‘We Care’

According to Gaye and Malo 8 the creative limitations and challenges of producing and directing an ad during lockdown pushed them and their team, from client, agency and crew, to create work in a very particular collaborative way where everyone is brought in on the process.

Malo 8 goes Midnight After 8

The director we have come to know as Malo 8 is also embarking on a new chapter in his career. Along with launching Together Films, Malo 8 is also rebranding as a director by changing his name to Midnight After 8. Yes, we had questions too.

IDIDTHAT: The industry knows Malo 8 so well, everyone must be asking you the same question; why change?

Midnight: Malo 8 was never a person, it’s a concept, because I am Dumisani Phakathi, obviously. Malo 8 was all about who I was, whereas Midnight After 8 is a director who is more about the people I am on set with and the cast I am directing and the stories I am telling. This shift is because I want to work with empathy, work with meaning and sincerity. It’s changing the name to represent my own pivot and how I would like to work now.

IDIDTHAT: What two pieces of work that Malo 8 directed in the past best represents the kind of work you want to create in the future?

Midnight After 8: I would say definitely the recent McDonald’s spot and then a piece I did for Tennis Biscuits years ago.

Bakers Tennis Biscuits 

IDIDTHAT: Tell us more about why you chose those pieces and what we can expect from Midnight After 8 and Together Films going forward?

Midnight After 8: It’s about showing respect for the individuals in front of the lens and that was always the most important thing to me. The people in front of my lens aren’t’ just tools to tell my story but rather equal collaborators. That’s what I see in those pieces and that is why, at Together Films, we are passionate, not only about the craft and South African storytelling, but also engagement on set (even at a distance). We will always strive to make everyone feel as if they have a stake in what’s going to be the final picture. People don’t release themselves to you if they don’t trust you and once they feel that they can trust you, they will let go and then work can be beautiful. This will lead to creating stories that touch people, win brand love and ultimately make us feel like we’re in this together.

Well, if you want all that, while also working with an experienced team, a team that gets it, then why not get together:

Contact Together Films:

Gaye Leong: Executive Producer
+27 83 267 8008

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

*This content may not be reproduced or used in any part without the prior written consent of IDIDTHAT. Reprints must credit I DID ( as the original publisher of this editorial piece and include a link to this site.

This Editorial is paid for by Together Films. Want our studio to create content that puts your agency/company/kickass ad you made in bright lights for the whole industry to see? View or editorial packages or contact and we’ll make it happen! #Boom