The nuts and bolts of the new Robot directors – Paul Ramaema and Nelis Botha

The production company Robot has always identified as a high-octane brand attracted to mad ideas, massive lights and motorbikes. Executive Producer and Owner Liam Johnson (who comes with years of experience as being the ‘go-to-guy’ in the production game) could therefore not be more excited when Directors Nelis Botha and Paul Ramaema announced that they would be joining the cogs of his team. The two directors are the ideal fit for a filmmaking company obsessed with creating damn cool, visually driven content or, what Liam likes to call ‘eyegasms’. We put on our ‘cool sneakers’ to try and fit in, and did some digging.

Paul Ramaema – A quickie

Liam says he’s had his eye on Joburg-based Paul for years and regards him as one of the top young directors to watch in the industry. When meeting Paul we were immediately struck by his trendy vibes and cool demeaner and there’s no denying that as a director his sweet spot is creating creative branded content with a social relevancy that engages with an online, youthful audience. Paul brings a stylistic attention to detail from technical to creative, with a passion for capturing visually appealing and beautifully composed imagery, not surprising as photography has always been a passion of his.

Nelis Botha – A quickie

Nelis is a multi-faceted filmmaker based in Cape Town who started his career documenting sub-cultures within in the South African music scene, honing his talent for storytelling early on. After working alongside Robot on a few projects, Liam soon realised that Nelis was passionate about challenging the norm, with an attention to detail, while still keeping authenticity at the core of his stories. His innate ability to create raw and intimate human stories alongside well-crafted cinematic imagery got Nelis established in the commercial space. This led to work on various social and commercial campaigns including adidas Performance, adidas Originals, Levi’s, Bacardi and Oakley.

IDIDTHAT: Paul and Nelis, while most of us couldn’t decide whether to put on pants during the majority of lockdown, you both made huge decisions and joined Robot. Why?

Paul: My relationship with Robot began in the early stages of lockdown. Liam had reached out to me and I really felt that their vision was aligned with the sort of work that I aspire to do – cutting edge, youthful stuff. I knew it would be a fresh start for me. So when Liam popped the question the energy was just right and I went with my gut.

Nelis: I come from an advertising and marketing space. I was an in-house director at And People. The first time we worked together was on a Bacardi shoot 3 or 4 years ago where Robot handled the production and I directed it. After that we did a few more shoots together and kept connecting over the years. So, it was an organic process that also just felt right.

IDIDTHAT: What would most people not know about you?

Paul: I used to stutter. I could hardly even pronounce my name. When I was in grade 3 or 4 I came across the Marshall Mathers LP 2 album by Eminem. I was 12 or 13 and I would just walk around the school corridors rapping along to his songs. It used to get me into a lot of trouble considering how vulgar it was. I realised the more I rapped the better my speech became and my confidence also improved as I was performing. I thought this was my calling, that I was definitely gonna be the next Eminem. My speech impairment just ended during my first or second year of varsity, it just totally stopped. It was baffling.

IDIDTHAT: Wow, we did not see that coming! Nelis can you top that?

Nelis: Haha, not quite. Um, I dunno, okay it’s a tough one. Um, I’m big into competitive gaming.
IDIDTHAT: What is that? Like Playstation?
Nelis: Ha, yeah, we’re playing Call of Duty at the moment and it’s getting competitive. I don’t think a lot of people admit to this, because it’s not that cool.
Paul: Dude gaming is so cool. Everyone is doing it, especially Call of Duty.
Nelis: There is still a geek stigma behind it.
IDIDTHAT: We have no idea what’s going on.


IEC X Chris

Samthing Soweto ‘Akulaleki’

ABSA ‘Baking Delights’


Adidas ‘Faster Than’

Adidas ‘Home of Classics’

Bacardi ‘House Party’

Who Did This Tho?!

According to our sources (we called Liam before we interviewed them), Paul and Nelis only met very briefly during a socially distanced game of ping pong, arranged by Liam a few weeks ago. We thought, while we get to know these two trendy faces, we could also see what first impressions lasted…

IDIDTHAT: Who, out of the two of you, would win in a weightlifting competition?

Nelis: Paul.
Paul: Me.

I: Who is more comfortable presenting their boards to agency?

N: Is that a trick question? Haha, I don’t mind doing it. Actually I enjoy it.
P: Ya me too, I enjoy it.

I: Who out of the two of you would the crew be most afraid of?

P: Nelis.
N: Paul.

Who’s first at the craft table?

N: Me!
P: Nelis.

I: Who is more likely to become an Instagram influencer? 

N: Paul, definitely. I haven’t’ posted in like a year.
P: Yeah, me.

I: Who will be the first to master the art of baking banana bread?

P: Nelis.
N: Me. I’ve made a couple of loaves actually.

I: Most likely to be asked by Terence Neal to take over from him and direct the next Adidas campaign?

N: Me, obviously.
P: Me, of course.

I: Who will win the Noble Peace Prize for directing a commercial that brought on world peace?

N: Both of us.
P: Both yeah.

I: Most likely to put the wrap party drinks on their tab?

N: Me.
P: Nelis.

I: Who is more likely to offer to drive someone to the airport?

N: Paul, he lives in Joburg.
P: Me.

Combine a Johannesburg and Cape Town street cool respectively with a hip aesthetic and a passion to create edgy contemporary work and you have Paul and Nelis. There is no doubt that these two belong with the cool gang at Robot. Whether it’s fashion, music video or branded content, these are your new Robots, fully charged and ready to serve you some of those ‘eyegasms’.

Contact Robot

Executive Producer: Liam Johnson

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

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