In less than a year the team at Robot have made some pretty major moves, to say the least. Taking the leap from being a service-only company, Robot now also includes a full roster of directing talent. Having established themselves as a production company with an impressive offering in the local market, what’s the secret weapon behind Robot’s rapid rise to success? Meet Callan Paul, with her fitting new title of Managing Director.
Robot’s Liam Johnson doesn’t play things safe, which is why the brand has always been synonymous for their high-octane approach to production and their love for blowing sh*t up. A company built on mad ideas and big leaps, in just under 2 years Robot has attracted a talented roster of 7 local directors with offices in Cape Town and Joburg. They have not only shot big-brand commercials for the local market but also kept expanding their international footprint in the service department. Executive Producer Liam Johnson attributes this impressive run of success to Directors Rep turned Managing Director, Callan Paul and the team around her.
‘Robot was very settled and confident in who we were as a service production company. With our extended offering of now also being a production company we brought on Callan Paul to steer the ship. Over the past two years, she has changed what Robot was culturally, which was pretty much just a boys club. She has shifted our thinking so positively into being more inclusive, transformative and empathetic. Callan challenges us and she inspires us all to be better, without any grandstanding. I wanted to solidify her position as the boss of Robot, which is why she’s our MD now. She is invaluable in helping us navigate and grow as a brand in the production industry of the future. By making the changes that I knew were necessary, in terms of transformation and equality, I’m excited and proud to have become a female-led future proof company.’ Liam Johnson, EP Robot.
Above and beyond managing pretty much every aspect of the Robot brand, Callan is in charge of scouting for talent and promoting the directors, like the most recent addition to the roster, Ayanda Duma, who we recently wrote a story about. Ayanda has joined fellow directors (click to link to their stories) Zandi Tisani, Adriaan Louw, Paul Ramaema, Gregg Bailey and Nelis Botha. ‘When I’m scouting for talent like Ayanda, whether it’s make-up artists, crew or directors, I’m looking for diversity in background and perspective. Whether it’s top established directors or young talent who we will nurture through the Robot platform, I believe in working with people with passion, tenacity and self-worth.’ Says Callan.
Callan’s focus on and love for the local production and advertising market and her invaluable industry relationships has fast-forwarded Robot into the local production game. Born into the ad world, quite literally ‘My dad was one of the old Ogilvy creatives back in the day, so I used to hang out in agencies after school and make my fake IDs.’ she says, Callan has worked her way up the creative and production ladder over the past 9 years. Experienced in both agency side (having worked at Machine, King James and Andpeople) and production side (Grindr Films), Callan understands commercials filmmaking from both sides.
‘My mandate when I started at Robot was to shape the brand into something representative and inclusive with a reputation for doing things the right way in all aspects of production. For instance, I wanted a diverse roster of directors, not because they tick a box but because they are talented and each brings a different perspective, that makes the work better always. And the way we treat our crew means everything to me and I want to ensure that we make sure that everyone always feels safe on set. For me, in short, it’s about instilling a culture that holds itself accountable and to a certain standard while we produce kiff beautiful work.’ Callan Paul, Managing Director Robot.
Having told Robot’s story from when they were first solely focused on service to now has been an explosive journey to be part of. Pivoting and growing at warp speed, they really have stood by their motto of ‘Who needs sleep? We’re a machine.’
Wanna (s)talk some more? Robot Website and Instagram