they

They is an award-winning production company based in Johannesburg, South Africa. They specialises in commercials, branded content and anything else that is interesting in the world of filmmaking.

Johannesburg, Cape Town & Durban

Executive Producer & Co-Owner: Darren Gordon
Directors: Alan Irvin (Co-Owner) / Grant De Sousa / Mel & Lusanda / Wandile Xaba / David Prior

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THEY are a team of passionate filmmakers and storytellers working out of head office in Johannesburg and satellite offices in Cape Town & Durban, South Africa. If, like us, you’ve always wondered who that mysterious “they” is behind comments like “they say it’s going to rain”, then the quirk behind our name might make a little bit of sense to you. “They” is us. Directors Alan Irvin, Grant de Sousa, Wandile Xaba and David Prior and directing teams Mel & Lusanda, along with Executive Producer Darren Gordon are a team of passionate filmmakers and storytellers working out of Joburg and Cape Town, South Africa. But instead of boring you with a lengthy history, we’d prefer our work to speak for itself. So take a look and answer that other mystery, “who the f*&k are they?” Together with classic commercials, they get involved in many different and varied creative projects. Basically, if it’s original and interesting, they want to do it. Alan Irvin has directed some of the most well-loved and iconic commercials in South African advertising, to name a few; Vodacom; Player 23, Elton & Jan, Wimpy Coffee ‘Foreign’, and McDonald’s ‘Kids parties’.

McDonalds ‘Kids Parties’ (Director: Alan Irvin)

Cannes Lions
Loeries Gold 2011

Ster Kinekor #Openeyes (Director: Dave Meinert / Producer: Darren Gordon)

Creative Circle Ad of the Month
Loeries 2016: Grand Prix and 3 x Gold Awards
Bookmarks 2017: Gold, 3 x Silvers
One Show 2017: Bronze & Merit award
Ad of the Week by Marklives
IDIDTHAT Craft Awards: Craft Special Mention for Direction

Dairymaid ‘Evil Twin’ (Director: Alan Irvin)

Marklives: Ad of the Week
IDIDTHAT Craft Awards: Craft Special Mention for Direction
Millward Brown: Selected as one of SA’s best-loved commercials for 2016

ABSA ‘Bongs & Bot’ (Director: Alan Irvin)

6 x Midas awards 2016

Dettol ‘Worry Less, Love More’ Campaign (Director: Alan Irvin)

Millward Brown: Selected as one of SA’s best-loved commercials for 2015/2016

Engen ‘Happy Song’ (Director: Alan Irvin)

Millward Brown: Selected as one of SA’s best-loved commercials for 2015

Ster Kinekor ‘FOMO’ (Director: Grant De Sousa)

Featured in SHOTS, February 2014
Midas Awards 2014

Hyundai ‘My Way’ (Director: Grant De Sousa)

Orchid award, October 2014

King Price ‘Signs’ (Director: Grant De Sousa)

IDIDTHAT Craft Awards: Craft Special Mention for Direction, July 2014

They

32 Bompas Road, Manor House
Dunkeld West
Johannesburg

Executive Producer | Darren Gordon
darren@they.za.com
+27 (0) 82 455 0512
+27 (0)10 594 5311

TALENT

ALAN IRVIN  |  DIRECTOR

He has grown an impeccable name for himself in the industry where he has been recognised by his peers winning numerous creative industry awards and has produced some of South Africa’s most loved commercials. Alan has received accolades at Cannes Lions, D&AD’s, Midas Awards, and many Loeire awards. View Work

GRANT DE SOUSA |  DIRECTOR

Grant proves his mettle as a performance director, being able to extract impressive interpretations from his cast. His keen creative eye and immaculate attention to detail make him a favorite choice as a director both locally and abroad. View Work

MEL & LUSANDA  |  DIRECTOR

They met 10 years ago and have been friends since. Their differences are what make them such a strong duo, that and their knowledge of each other and film. Their love for film and story translates in their interpretation of scripts and concepts. View Work

WANDILE XABA |  DIRECTOR

Wandile identifies herself as a Queer Intersectional Director. She describes intersectionality as a space of respect you can create… for the ideas, religious beliefs, experiences and expressions of the individual standing in front of you. She has a visually sensitive eye and is passionate about creating thought-provoking and exquisite work. View Work

DAVID PRIOR |  DIRECTOR

David lives in Cape Town, brews rum, beer and photographs things beautifully. He is one of the most awarded photographers in South Africa, and is recognized globally. He has spent years studying a bottle of ice cold beer, and food and beverages, and has become an authority in the art of capturing life’s small pleasures. View Work.

Awarded by IDIDTHAT

AWARDED: CRAFT MENTION (DIRECTION)
They | Wandile Xaba
Rent A Store ‘Santiago’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Steph van Niekerk, Creative Director at Grey/WPP Liquid
December 2021

Steph’s comment: ‘For a piece shot on a shoestring, and let’s be honest, in this pandemic those are becoming the norm, I really enjoyed this piece. It’s a charming story of an Argentinian Expat who stores his skiing equipment in the hopes that it will one day snow in Joburg. Story aside, I found the performances really charming and believable. And if they are really non-actors, then even more reason for Wandile to get a special mention for Direction. The temptation often is to over complicate things with loads of cuts and editing techniques, but this piece didn’t try too hard. It’s just an entertaining, understated piece that allowed the story to shine. Nice one, They and Wandile.’

AWARDED: BEST IN CRAFT (DIRECTION)
They | Alan Irvin
Momentum ‘Giant’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Greg Rom, Director at Gentlemen Films
April 2021

Greg’s comment: “What I really liked about Alan’s treatment of this story was the level of intrigue he was able to create by holding back on information. That opening shot hooked me and with a wonderfully balanced use of considered visual storytelling and soaring soundtrack he kept me intrigued right until the pay off line. From the cinematography to the smart visual effects, it’s the type of direction that employs many elements to bring the storytelling to the fore. He did an excellent job of focusing on the character’s journey and by so doing, took me on an emotive one.”

AWARDED: CRAFT MENTION (DIRECTION)
They | Mel Ismail
Wimpy/Engen ‘The Next Stop’ (Directors Cut)
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: PJ Eales, ECD at Machine_
January 2021

PJ’s comment: “There was a lot of really emotional work entered this time round so this spot for Wimpy by Mel Ismail was like a breath of fresh air. I actually hadn’t seen the spot before this and the joke reveal made me laugh out loud, so much so that I watched it over and over again. The performances from mom and dad are fantastic, but Mel has done some incredible work in the way she directed the little girl, her facial expressions and the little nuances that Mel coaxed out of her are simply sublime.”

AWARDED: BEST IN CRAFT (DIRECTION)
They | Grant de Sousa
Chicken Licken ‘The Legend of Big John (Extended version)’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Juliet Honey, Creative Director at Net#work BBDO
December 2018

Judges Comment: “It’s another case of the battle of the chicken burgers. This month Chicken Licken’s epic Legend of Big John pips Nandos’ ‘You people’ to the post. Big John is jam-packed with fun moments and hidden references making it rewarding to watch more than once (especially for us ad people). It’s always great when a piece of work feels like it was produced with lots of love.”

AWARDED: CRAFT MENTION (DIRECTION)
They | Alan Irvin
Mahindra ‘The Wanderer’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Xolisa Dyeshana, Chief Creative Officer and Partner at Joe Public
October 2018

Judges Comment: “This is a charming piece, beautifully shot and quite different from the car advertising we’re used to, which is usually about a list of features with little to no attention paid to the story. So well done to they Films and Alan Irvin.”

AWARDED: CRAFT MENTION (DIRECTION)
They | Grant de Sousa
Ster Kinekor ‘The Reign of Ian’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Camilla Clerke, Creative Director at Hellocomputer
January 2018

Judges Comment: “Pretty much a 1,5 hour movie made into a 1,5 minute ad – it’s got the whole plot.
We watch as Ian falls from grace as his power-high becomes too much for his office. The casting is good – from Ian (SA’s answer to Zach Galifianakis) to the extras. The music is full of drama. And the acting, although a little overdone and a bit forced in parts (but I guess that was the point), hits the right note. A littttle obvious, but still a good mini movie reminding us to watch the real thing.”

AWARDED: BEST IN CRAFT (DIRECTION)
They | Alan Irvin
Chicken Licken ‘Icelandic Boy’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Nkanyezi Masango, Creative Director at King James Group
October 2017

Judges Comment: “For mastery in directing, Chicken Licken is my pick for Best of Reel. It’s such an ambitious script, which in the wrong hands, could have easily been an epic disaster. But the director handled the challenge with finesse and great production values. It’s shot beautifully, yet feels real with just the right level of subtle humour and flawless performances. Hats off to Alan Irvin, the team and a brave client. The trip to Iceland was well worth it.”

AWARDED: CRAFT MENTION (DIRECTION)
They | Alan Irvin
Dairymaid ‘Evil Twin’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Eoin Welsh, Chief Creative Officer at Havas Worldwide
August 2016

Judges Comment: “A lovely  little story that manages to feature cute kids and ice-cream without being sickly sweet. It’s a real art in this kind of storytelling to keep on the right side of the cheese line, and this spot pulls it off.d it advertises. Nice one, Sunu.

AWARDED: CRAFT MENTION (DIRECTION)
They | Dave Meinert
Ster-Kinekor ‘Open Eyes’
IDIDTHAT Guest Judge: Pepe Marais, Chief Creative Officer at Joe Public
May 2016

Judges Comment: “Those who know me know that I have a soft spot for work that makes a meaningful difference. The Open Eyes piece for Ster Kinekor is not just noble in its intent but it is also magnificently executed by Dave Meinert from They. An idea that gives vision to a young man – now what can beat that?

AWARDED: CRAFT MENTION (DIRECTION)
They | Dave Meinert
‘The Pegasus Project’
IDIDTHAT Judge: Eoin Welsh, Chief Creative Officer at Havas Worldwide
May 2015

Judges Comment: “OK, So it’s a tearjerker with a cute dog in it. The cynic in me says it’s playing to the crowd. But the softie in me says then I must be in that crowd because tears were jerked a little – and it surprised me by not quite going the route I thought it would. Head says too easy, heart says fuck you head, it got to me – and isn’t that what good filmmaking is supposed to do?”

Featured Work

IDIDTHAT Featured Stories 

They ‘We commit to black female directors’

August 7th, 2020|Comments Off on They ‘We commit to black female directors’

Directing duo Lusanda Mgoduka and Melany Ismail have partnered with They’s founders, Darren Gordon and Alan Irvin. The refreshed They family, joined by female director, Wandile Xaba, unpack the challenge of getting black female directors through the pitch room doors, not to mention black queer and trans directors. They ask the ad industry to step up and join them because it’s not just a They thing, it’s an us thing, a South African thing.

Featured Showcases

IDIDTHAT Presents ‘SHE DID THAT’ May 2022

May 24th, 2022|

SHE DID THAT is a female filmmakers showcase that shines a spotlight on the women in the South African production industry. Although we will only be featuring women and non-binary people, the goal is that it will encourage the inclusion of more underrepresented filmmakers across all production work created by South Africans. This month features Amy Allais from Ola! Films, Wandile Xaba from They, and Zee from Blacklist.

IDIDTHAT Craft Award Rankings 2021

February 25th, 2022|

It’s here; The Official IDIDTHAT Craft Awards Rankings for 2021. Every month IDIDTHAT teams up with leaders in the ad and production industry to award the finest in South African film and production craft. These truly are the best of the best in the industry in Film Production, Post Production, Cinematography, Music & Sound, Animation & Visual Effects in South Africa.

IDIDTHAT Craft Awards December 2021

January 14th, 2022|

This month’s IDIDTHAT.co Craft Awards were judged by the absolute least of our Januworries; hoarder of awards and Creative Director at Grey/WPP Liquid, Steph van Niekerk, and the magic-maker himself, Senior Editor at LUDUS Post Productions, Mark Ash. Congrats on December's top Crafters, Jeana Theron from Darling Films & Mark Middlewick from Circus.

IDIDTHAT Craft Awards November 2021

December 9th, 2021|

This month’s IDIDTHAT.co Craft Awards were judged by the biggest gifts under the tree; Kabelo Moshapalo, Chief Creative Officer Ogilvy Johannesburg and Tebza, Director at The Star Film Company. Thank you you festive tinselled treats! Congrats to our merry Best in Crafters Zee Ntuli from Darling Films and Greg Gray from Romance.

South Africa’s Best in Film – Loeries 2021

November 25th, 2021|

This showcase features South Africa's best in creativity and production in the category film. This is the work that was awarded at the Loeries 2021. Wanna work with the best in South Africa for your next project? Look no further. Exactly like sliced bread, IDIDTHAT is all about making your life easier, minus the carbs. We’ve featured all the awarded work and the talent behind it so you can find the best person for your next project. Pleasure!

IDIDTHAT Presents ‘SHE DID THAT’

October 29th, 2021|

SHE DID THAT is a female filmmakers showcase that shines a spotlight on the women in the South African production industry. Although we will only be featuring women and non-binary people, the goal is that it will encourage the inclusion of more underrepresented filmmakers across all production work created by South Africans. This month features Director Zandi Tisani from Robot, Director duo Mel & Lusanda from they and Editor Amelia Cohen from Priest.