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Malo 8 celebrates five busy years as a commercials director


Frieze Films’ Malo 8 is celebrating five years as a commercials director. During this time, he’s shot over 70 ads for all the top agencies, including repeat work with some of the biggest brands in South Africa, from Coca-Cola to MTN.

Malo’s crafted some of the most memorable commercials performances of recent years, like the gogo stealing Bakers Tennis Biscuits from her adorable grandson, or the nosy neighbour in DSTV’s Mam Gaboza ad, but he’s also shown a rare versatility: he’s done zany for MTN; worked with celebrities like Loyiso Bala for Cotlands and Itumeleng Khune for Kiwi; and shot beautifully-styled visual collages for Cell C.

“My niche is my versatility,” says Malo. “I like that I’ve done different kinds of jobs; I want to be seen as a director who is an all-rounder.”

Malo started making films as a 16-year-old in Soweto. Over the next 17 years, before joining Frieze, he carved out a multi-award-winning career as a long form director, working with international broadcasters like the BBC and Arte.

Along the way, he created gems like Waiting For ValdezAn Old Wive’s Tales, and Don’t Fuck With Me, I Have 51 Brothers and Sisters; was named Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year; and held a sold-out show of night photography from Soweto.

In commercials, Malo feels that there is unique potential where unpretentious storytelling can meet the cosmetics of filmmaking. He’s particularly enjoyed the collaborative nature of commercials filmmaking. “I like the idea of being able to bring my creativity to someone else’s concept,” he says.

This collaborative approach means he’s built strong relationships with the agencies he works with. M&C Saatchi Abel creative director Mark Winkler says, “Malo recently treated on a very sensitive board and absolutely got it. Not only that, but his insight made it a much better script than it was originally. Malo was a pleasure to work with on set, always willing to listen to input but never willing to compromise. The final product did both the agency and the client proud.”

Malo’s experienced the business environment change dramatically over the past five years. “The budgets will always change, based on the economy. We don’t only live in summer; we also live in winter. That’s why it’s important to be versatile, to be open to alternative ways of working, and to find ways to still deliver what the job needs.”

In the current environment, he believes part of the way forward is for agencies and production companies to work together more closely, from earlier in the process. “I’m a filmmaker and a concept-person first, before I’m a commercials director, so I’d love to get involved earlier, when the agency first has an idea or gets a feeling, so we can explore then how far they can take that.”

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