Chances are, the name Katlego Baaitse has been ringing in your ears more frequently, and there’s good reason for it. Currently, everything he touches is catching the attention of the top judging talent, who all seem to be playing a game of ‘Katlego Bingo’ because they all agree; that he is a formidable performance and comedy director. With an insatiable appetite for big-scale world-building Katlego is consistently surprising us with work that is as excellent as it is eccentric.
Spitfire director Katlego combines his knack for comedy with uniquely South African nuances that always feel very ‘Katlego’. His style is quirky, offbeat, insightful and often unexpected. His aspirations are to continuously create work that subverts South African stereotypes and explores the complexities of our cultures with a fresh and unique perspective. ‘I’ve always been a little bit left to everyone else’s right, but I will never go off course, I am there for creatives and there to breathe life into their work while making them feel 100% safe in my hands, that’s my role,’ says Katlego.
What most people don’t know about Katlego is…
Katlego has spent almost 14 years in the industry, first on the agency side at big shops like Ireland/Davenport and Joe Public where he worked as an art director, motion graphics and 3D specialist and in-house film director and then Spitfire as a full-time commercials director.
He’s 40 years old…. we know right? Bottle that, please! We were all fooled but behind that Pharrell baby-face is a dad of two – a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old!
He speaks four different languages, something which allows him to navigate South Africa a little more insightfully. ‘Coming from Soweto, I was the first black child to attend the Afrikaans school I was sent to, yeah…I vaguely remember even making it onto the cover of a magazine because of it. Wow, something that also gives away my age,’ says Katlego.
With multiple Loeries, Bookmarks, One Show, Creative Circle and IDIDTHAT Craft Awards, judges have consistently praised Katlego’s commercials, and the accolades he’s gathered are a testament to his talent. Only a few weeks ago he had 5 finalists, 1 silver, and 1 gold award at the Loeries – a particularly tough year to win.
We first began taking notice of Katlego’s work back when he was awarded Best of Craft by Greg Gray in March 2020 for the ‘Everyone’s Talking About it – Kentucky’ campaign for Chicken Licken. With a very small team and some really clever framing of the big city he had to shoot in, Katlego built an entire world for the film and with no actors to work with he directed the real Kentuckians to deliver nuanced and memorable performances.
Greg Gray said of the direction: ‘(…)Katlego Baaitse mimics the conventions of the genre so effectively that viewers are immediately drawn in. He employs a cinematic doccie-style approach, with what appears to be authentic local interviews, underpinned by a Southern soundtrack and a well-paced edit. The way the narrative unfolds arouses the curiosity of both the viewer and the ‘documentary’s’ protagonists and keeps them guessing until the very end. I think this is a great piece of work both in its idea and execution.’
The campaign also won a Gold at Loeries 2020 and Katlego went on to be ranked amongst the top 10 directors by Creative Circle that year.