Filmmaker and commercials director Zwelethu Radebe has joined award-winning production house Egg Films. A born filmmaker Radebe spent much of his youth behind the lens recreating his favourite film scenes. After graduating from film school he won a Loerie for the first commercial he directed. At just 27, Radebe has spent the last three years directing commercials full-time for both local and international clients, shooting in nine countries across Africa and Europe. His award-winning short film The Hajji screened at numerous film festivals at home and abroad, and his latest short, The Hangman – which he also wrote and directed – recently had its world premiere at Atlas Studios in Johannesburg.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW HAS THIS SHAPED YOU AS A DIRECTOR?
My love affair with film started in my childhood, stealing my father’s 8mm camcorder and filming my brother, re-enacting scenes from my favourite films. Later I was cast from school to play a caricature of South African cricket legend Lance Klusener in a washing powder commercial. The bug hit around then. I enrolled into film school where I finished top of my class, winning numerous awards and an opportunity to work for a renowned South African production company, where I started directing TV commercials.
WHAT KIND OF CONTENT DO YOU ENJOY CREATING?
I really enjoy moving audiences emotively through narratives that have honest performances and a striking visual style.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I find a lot of my inspiration through vintage and contemporary photography. I sometimes see a photograph that makes me feel a specific way, which inspires me to write an idea that I would use later in a spot or music video. I also observe people a lot; I learn a lot from watching and get inspired by ordinary people’s lives.
DO YOU HAVE ANY MENTORS?
I look at everyone who surrounds me as a collaborator, especially those who I work with at Egg Films. That’s what attracted me to the company.
WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL CAREER MILESTONES?
Winning my first Loerie Award for the first commercial I ever directed, as well as finishing second in the MOFILM Cannes Lions competition in 2015.
WHICH PROJECTS ARE YOU CURRENTLY INVOLVED IN?
I’m currently finishing a South African Tourism job with FCB Johannesburg, which had me travel to four different cities in South Africa.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FUNNIEST MOMENT ON SET?
A cast member falling into a fridge, completely disappearing out of frame during a take. Hahahaha!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONE-LINER FROM A MOVIE?
Denzel Washington in Training Day: “King Kong ain’t got shit on me!” LOL.
WHAT SONGS MAKE UP YOUR MOST RECENT MUSIC PLAYLIST?
- Black Motion – Ya Badimo
- Branko – Atlas Expanded
- Ed Sheeran – Divide
IF YOU COULD PRODUCE AN AFRICAN VERSION OF A HOLLYWOOD CLASSIC, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM SHOOT LOCATION? AND WHY?
I would love to shoot in the favelas in Rio. I think there are a lot of untold stories outside the gangsterism and drugs, which I would love to explore in a foreign country.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY FILMMAKER SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
To stop time. There’s never enough time on a commercials set, so I’d love to control time.
WHAT ARE YOUR THREE FAVOURITE FILMS AND WHY?
- The Silence of the Lambs by Jonathan Demme. The performances. Anthony Hopkins; need I say more?
- Amores Perros by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. A multiple character narrative that explores how we’re all interconnected as people.
- Clockers by Spike Lee. The visual style that Spike puts in all his films is very provocative; I like his boldness.
IF YOU WEREN’T A FILMMAKER, YOU WOULD BE…?