Sketchbook Studios signs director Ramon Mellett, ‘He’s not our funny guy’

Before becoming a commercials director, Ramon Mellett worked as an editor, photographer and DOP. This production background and experience, which he is able to bring to all his commercials, gives him an edge on any set. Having also worked for years as a graffiti artist in his earlier life, the non-conformist subculture has perhaps disposed Ramon to ‘keeping it real’ which is evident in his authentic approach to his visual and narrative storytelling centred around the human spirit and individuals who have risen above adversity. He might be shy, but he is relentless when it comes to capturing the essence of the story and will go where others won’t to find it.

With his ear to the ground as to what is happening in street culture, Ramon’s distinctive doccie style has a gritty and raw aesthetic that has already caught the attention of brands like Puma, Adidas, Shelflife and Frontrunner.

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Most striking upon first meeting Ramon is his impressive body of tattoos (literally, body of tattoos). But his tats are very quickly juxtaposed by his personality. Ramon is extremely shy and humble, and clearly would rather be behind the camera than sitting in an interview where he has to list all the reasons why he’s THE BEST DIRECTOR EVERRRRR. But you’d be a damn fool to mistake his social shyness for lack of confidence. Ramon is a true artist. He believes the work should speak for itself, and his does. Sketchbook Founder and Director Ari Kruger says ‘That is one of the first things I identified about Ramon, he’s an artist. He is really and truly an artist, at his core, and it filters through his photography, DP work and directing. Ramon is fiercely talented.’

Ramon is not their funny guy

Sketchbook Studios has established itself as a production company currently home to some of the country’s top comedy directors. In the last 6 months alone, the small team have been awarded three IDIDTHAT Best of Craft Awards and a Craft Mention, putting them in the running for leading Production Company of the Year in Craft (although the race is FAR from over). However, Ramon joining the Sketchbook family represents a shift for the company. Ramon is not their funny guy. Or shall we say he’s not a comedy director. Ramon brings a different offering to Sketchbook and represents more of what Ari believes is at the core of the company’s values. Ari says: ‘Ramon represents the core values of Sketchbook which is that we are all self-starter directors and filmmakers. None of us wait for the green light if we want something made, we just do it and Ramon plugs very well into that philosophy.’

Ramon got stabbed on his first shoot

Ramon’s determination to capture the story no matter what is something that seems to form part of his DNA. In fact, when we asked him how he first got into directing, he casually told us about that time he got stabbed on his first shoot…in Grade 10. [Spoiler, he survives].

My father bought me this VHS cam when I first got into graffiti. I found a really nice spot between Plumstead and Steurhof in Cape Town. There was a section next to the tracks where I would sit with my earphones on and film all the graffiti on the trains as they passed by. The more I went, the more my confidence grew and I began feeling safer there. One winter afternoon I lost track of time and had zoned out with my earphones on while waiting for the trains to come past. It was about 6 pm in winter and I remember feeling this arm grab me on my shoulder. To this day I remember the guy was wearing a beanie with a little fluffy ball on top and two strings with the fluffy balls on the side and he was wearing sunglasses, on a completely overcast day. He didn’t say anything, just stabbed me on my shoulder and took my VHS cam and ran away. I remember thinking I can’t lose this VHS cam, it means too much to me. I didn’t realise how badly I was stabbed and I thought ‘Screw this, I’m gonna run after this guy’. I caught up with him and I was wearing this black and white hoodie and the white was just covered in blood, so I quickly drew the attention of people around us. A crowd gathered and we managed to chase him down this road where he got to a canal and he dropped the knife and VHS and then he just disappeared. Those were the days of MixIt and I remember lying there, bleeding badly, waiting for the ambulance to arrive and I started taking selfies and sending them to my friends. Yeah, that was wild.’

And that’, commented Ari, ‘is why he joined Sketchbook, because Sketchbook directors fight back.’

Wanna (S)talk some more? Sketchbook company website.

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

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