Rolling with production trends in South Africa’s ad world by EP Gaye Leong from Together Films

It was while shooting one of the first commercials to be filmed in South Africa during lockdown, that Executive Producer Gaye Leong officially launched Together Films. The foundation of the company was laid and the mission statement clear – Together we can do anything, no matter the times. Now, four years and a growing roster of talent later Gaye shares some of the top industry trends her production company has encountered, adapted to and rolled with, Together.

Together Films is a full-service production company, based in Joburg, happy to work anywhere. The production company represents directors Malo 8, Alessandra Scherillo, Bevan Cullinan, Michael Rodrigues and Catharine Cooke.

Moving times requires moving boundaries by Gaye Leong.

So much has been written lately about rapidly changing marketing dynamics and at Together Films we’ve seen first-hand how the traditional lines of client/agency/production house have transformed into something much more fluid, more collaborative.  It’s a movement that we embrace whole-heartedly and I’ve tried to pinpoint some of the trends we’ve spotted and would love to know what you think…

Trend. Many ad agencies are moving away from in-house production. 

It’s our experience that agency groups are, perhaps more than ever before, focusing on the strategic, media and creative aspects of their offering. At the same time, in-house production, once a revenue-generating innovation, is becoming too costly to maintain on a full-time basis.  Agencies are now seeking reliable partnerships with production houses, who they know they can trust to produce the work they envisage for their clients. The end result is that our relationship is more cooperative than ever before.

Trend. In-house agencies are growing at an unprecedented rate.

ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is a US body that has over the years surveyed their members to demonstrate the penetration of in-house agencies. In 2008, 42% of members said they had a department that had responsibilities previously performed by an external advertising agency. In 2023 this figure rose to 82%. (Also noting that, although many members still had both internal and external agencies, an average of 61% of all the work was done in-house.)

The upside to clients is obvious: cost efficiencies, better brand knowledge, institutional intelligence and dedicated staff are just some of the benefits. The downside is that specialist skills are sometimes lost and the people on the ground are often spread too thin.

In our business this trend has meant that we are often working directly with the end client, being asked to not only provide production but also upfront creative. So far, it’s been a process we’ve enjoyed when we’re faced with it, especially when this kind of work is given to specialist storyteller directors who understand and respect the creative process.

Trend. The demand for high-quality content grows daily.

Perhaps the most important trend in production house growth is the need for constant high-quality content. At Together Films we can help agencies and clients set up a video-first content creation plan that allows for scheduled production on a regular basis throughout the year. Booking ahead means working with a set production team, making it easier to maintain brand consistency and allowing for a more cohesive brand experience. More subliminally, chemistry is built and magic is made as the team becomes more deeply entrenched in the real meaning of the work.

Trend. Remote productions.

Not really a trend so much as a natural progression.  Advancements in technology have not only simplified much of the routine work in production and offered us alternatives to on-location shooting, they also give us an unprecedented level of connectedness, allowing us to work with talent all over the continent or even the rest of the world.  The result is work that is harmonious with the local culture and cost-effective in terms of crew on the ground.  (See our recent films in Malawi, Kenya and Zimbabwe as an example of this.)

So that’s my top trends for the week and I’m sure there are many more to share.  If you’re interested in talking more, let’s get together.

You can contact me at
Or call 083 267 8008

To find out more of what we’re about, or to see some of our work please visit

Contact Together Films:

Gaye Leong: Executive Producer
+27 83 267 8008

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