Blacksmith Collective: the ‘Production Collective’ that’s switching up the game

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Blacksmith Collective co-founders Marcus von Geyso and Diogo Mendonca

South Africa’s commercial film production industry is brimming with hungry young creatives bent on flexing their own artistic muscles and bringing big ideas to life. With so many talented individuals on the market, from cinematographers and copywriters to lighting specialists and make-up artists, Blacksmith Collective demonstrates how the collaborative model delivers highly creative, relevant, and localised content for clients.

Blacksmith Collective, spear-headed by Marcus von Geyso and Diogo Mendonca, is an innovative production collective specialising in content creation and creative problem solving. In an industry often constrained by tight budgets and limited resources, the pair identified a unique way to offer clients more value while doing what they love – working with other creatives to produce relevant, authentic content.

Each project brings a new team of creatives together to supply the most apt skillsets on a specific short-term project and bring a concept to life. Blacksmith Collective has built a vast network of top creatives from around the country, each capable of bringing something fresh, unique and innovative to the table for any given project.

The duo has worked with top international brands, including Castle Lite, Castle Lager, Opel, Budweiser, Shell, Corona and Visa, and have collaborated with some of the biggest agencies in the industry, including Ogilvy & Mather South Africa, King James II, Joe Public, Isobar and TBWA. Their top three projects in recent months include:

 

Castle Lite Unlocks web series

 

Blacksmith Collective was granted creative freedom from ABinBev (then SAB) to create three interesting content ideas for the Castle Lite Unlocks livestream web series. The team envisioned a 360-degree drinking shot as a way to offer multiple perspectives of the event for online audiences. At the time, they realised that the only way to pull this off was by using a 360 ‘Glam Cam’, which would have cost around R400 000 to rent for a single day – much more than their allocated budget for the whole project.

“This was our first major project as a start-up, and one of our biggest goals in starting Blacksmith Collective has always been to find innovative ways around constraints to execute our vision and meet the client’s expectations,” says Von Geyso. “We figured, since we have the network to help us achieve this, why not assemble a team of experts and build our own rig?”

With the help of some engineering friends, Blacksmith Collective built the CineFlex 360, a 360-degree camera rig which ended up costing just R40 000 to make. The creation was also the first 360 drinking shot to be conceptualised and executed in South Africa, earning them a reputation in the industry for delivering creative, innovative concepts on time and on budget.

Blacksmith Collective delivered The Beatboxer, The UV Party, and The Light Suits concepts for this project.

 

Castle Lager Intrinsics

 

What was originally meant to be a simple edit of existing footage turned out to be Blacksmith Collective’s big break into the industry, with the Castle Lager Intrinsics project attracting audiences locally and from across Africa.

“After a quick look at the initial brief, we realised we could do so much more for the client and presented them with a stronger concept that included a more engaging narrative,” added von Geyso. “They believed in it and gave us the additional budget to go ahead with our idea.”

The team created an Intrinsics AV for ABinBev, which was also split up into 1 x 45” and 4 x 15” screens according to the various themes of the Castle Lager brand, such as heritage, taste, brewmaster and ingredients. The Castle Lager SA team liked it so much that they are now considering having it televised locally as well.

This was Marcus’s directorial debut, and it gave him a chance to showcase what he was capable of on a large-scale production and fast-tracked his directing career. Marcus has since directed many projects, including Timo ODV’s new music video MOVE.

Ode to the 011 – The Streets

 

Having worked on several major projects for local and international clients, Marcus and Diogo wanted to create their own authentic content that illustrated the impact of creative collaboration. Ode to 011 was a project particularly close to home, taking the opportunity to ‘live’ what the Blacksmith Collective business model represents and bringing an expert team of creatives together to tell a story.

“We had wanted to collaborate on a piece showcasing the city streets of Johannesburg for a while but, with virtually no budget, one of our main challenges was getting buy-in from our fellow creatives,” says Diogo.

By tapping into Blacksmith Collective’s network of creatives, calling in a few favours and granting creative freedom to everyone involved, the team put together an impressive production made from raw talent and passion.

“We got to film in some of the coolest inner-city locations that not many people even know about, from rooftop penthouses and demolition-scheduled buildings to the actual streets, and most importantly, we all had a lot of fun in the process,” adds Diogo. “The creative atmosphere on set was electric and unforgettable, and we believe the final piece showcases that.”

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