Robot Signs Local and International Directors for South African Market
As one would expect from a brand that simply can’t sit still, since opening their doors to the South African market, Robot has now expanded by signing six local and international (#fancy) Directors for your booking pleasure. We got the skinny from Executive Producer Liam Johnson and Managing Director Robin Hook.
‘n Robot Maak ‘n Plan
What sets Robot apart is very simple: They won’t tell you how much it will cost, but rather what they can do with your budget in order to realise your vision. This approach, combined with the high-octane enthusiasm they bring to each production, is what Liam Johnson first harnessed when he opened Robot’s doors. In order to expand their offering, Liam knew that he needed to surround himself with a group of adrenalin junkies who shared this attitude and matched Robot’s passion for creative problem solving. Robot, based in Cape Town with partners in London, is now home to a whole new generation of Directors who have the skills to tell authentic stories but are also consumed with using their creativity and the technology at hand to make your budget work. Whether it’s a nappy ad or filming *Tom Hanks parkouring toward Meg Ryan on the streets of New York City, in the rain, with a drone, on New Year’s Eve – Robot can do it!
*Okay we totally made that up for effect, but you get the point.
IDIDTHAT: Liam, you’ve been in the production game for years, building up a wealth of knowledge and experience. What changes have you seen in the industry?
Liam: When digital came along it changed everything. We don’t need to have 5 people working on a camera with a bunch of assistants anymore. Of course you still get that, but nowadays things are just easier because of technology. We are also seeing a lot of really talented Filmmakers who are self-taught, or simply Directors who love problem-solving by using the technology at their disposal.
IDIDTHAT: How has Robot been able to adapt to this change, or keep changing colours if you will #RobotWordPlay?
Liam: Ha! We’ve always said ‘Bring it. Whatever content you want, bring it.’ Tell us what the budget is and we won’t tell you how much it’s gonna cost to do, we’ll tell you what we can do with your money in order to make your vision come true.
IDIDTHAT: Damn! We love that.
Liam: Yeah, we know there is always a certain pot of money to do something and then there is the vision of the director, agency or brand. The way we produce is we say ‘This is how we can do this for that amount of money and that might mean a bit of gorilla filming here or shoot with a GoPro there, but we have all the solutions guaranteed and it will look damn good.
The Robots are also logistics people. Liam, with his buckets full of experience in traditional production and the incredible connections he has made over the years, collaborates with his Directors by creatively solving the logistics of each shoot to create magic. Logistics is everything; from how they track a shot to choosing the *perfect building to blow up while Denzel Washington casually speeds toward camera on a motorbike.
Meet the Robots
Robot has now signed six young and energetic Directors who think about filmmaking and production differently. These Directors are the result of the changes in the industry that Liam speaks about. They challenge the traditional way of directing because yes, they are talented storytellers, but they are also able to use technology in incredible ways. They can shoot in any format to suit a budget, from your classic Alexa Mini all the way through to the latest small mirrorless cameras or even do some jaw-dropping things with the new iPhone. Whether on a more traditional set with big crews or travelling across Africa with one assistant, these six truly represent the Robot way.
CRAIG MOORE | LONDON, UK
Craig Moore is an award-winning Director with a distinct visual aesthetic. His music video work has made him a go-to choice for artists and creatives looking for a pop-driven edge, with a focus on performance and unique locations.
DIRK VAN NIEKERK | CAPE TOWN, SA
Dirk is an international award-winning Director, an extremely passionate and enthusiastic creative with a strong desire to make inspiring and compelling work and he’s not shy to improvise when needed! With high-energy and a diverse style, he brings new life to the industry.
FRANCIS WALLIS | LONDON, UK
Francis grew up on the sunny shores of Portugal before shaping his career in the big smoke of London! After mastering his trade with fashion films and music videos, he’s more recently directed amazing work for brands such as Ebay, Micheal Kors, Doritos and Lucas Oil.
XOLELWA “OLLIE” NHLABATSI | JHB, SA
Xolelwa’s client list includes brands such as Edgars, Rèmy Martin and Sony Music. Xolelwa has directed programs for Channel O and, NBC Universal.
SASHINSKI | LONDON, UK
London-born filmmaker, Sasha Nathwani’s music video work consists of a beautifully stylised nocturnal video for Snakehips as well as a trilogy of videos for DJ Producer Jonas Blue which have amassed over a billion YouTube hits. And his narrative work happens to be award winning!
STEPHAN HAMBSCH | CAPE TOWN, SA
Stephan has been making films for over a decade, and is a rare combination of an artist and technical genius. He’s the problem-solver you always want on your set.
IDIDTHAT: What first drew you to these six sexy faces?
Liam: It goes back to fitting in with the Robot brand. We still want to be known for the kind of music videos, branded content or TVCs we produce and the energy and passion we bring to any production. These six guys spoke to exactly that kind of energy and excitement. I was taught by Keith Rose, so for me, if the client doesn’t want anything more than what we’ve done, I’ll still do more. At Robot we will find the time, and we sure have the energy, to go the extra mile. Anyone who fits in with that kind of ethos is for Robot.
Robin: Like Director Dirk van Niekerk; Dirk is an internationally award-winning Director but he also knows how to go into Africa and do it all himself, pitch to the client, get excited about the film he’s going to make and put it all together. And that’s what I really like about all of them. They’re not driven by budget, they’re driven by the possibility of what they can make.
Liam: Exactly. I also want our Directors to have creative freedom and shoot spec films, branded content and short films.
IDIDTHAT:You have three international Directors who are based in London, how will the local market afford them guys #TheRand?
Robin: If someone locally wanted to get our international Directors in, we’ll make a plan. Whether that means making a deal on flights to cut costs, we’ll find a way. These guys are more accessible now than any other international Director and I think that’s incredibly exciting for the local market.
Robot Pulls Out All the Stops
From TV commercials to music videos and branded content, Robot is all over it. With a group of Directors like these, who are hungry for a challenge, you just know you’re gonna get some damn exciting work. Whether it’s filming an insurance ad or *Meryl Streep gliding down from the Eifel Tower in her wingsuit while singing the Star Spangled Banner backwards to a group of anti-straw protesters.
*Okay, okay, but we’d watch that!
To check out some of the energy-fuelled work that the Robots have delivered and to get the run-down of what they’re up to, go to their website by simply clicking on this sentence you are currently reading.
‘I want to work with amazing Directors creating incredible commercials, but I also want to shout from the rooftops about the truly creative short films, music videos and branded content they create.’ – Liam Johnson
Here’s the thing with Robot: They pour every ounce of energy they have into finding kickass creative solutions for your production and budget, when you’re done working with them they will have depleted every creative avenue and left you exhausted. They simply won’t stop until you have a headache. Seriously, their business cards should be a sachet of Grandpa. But, that is exactly what you want from a team working on your production. Call them, work with them, make magic and then when you’ve pulled off a killer production, take a nap!
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 IDIDTHAT.co as the original publisher of this editorial piece and include a link to this site.
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