Massïf: Celebrating New Talent in the Heart of Johannesburg
When a group of mountains breaks from a range without any compromise to its internal structure, it’s called a Massïf. This is the founding principle of Massïf Films, a production company founded as the story of the legendary Velocity films was drawing to a close.
Working at Massïf, you quickly realise this is a tight-knit team of creative personalities closely resembling a family. The team is made up of accomplished directors and a growing group of talented new blood bursting onto the scene. What’s immediately evident is that the glue that holds them together is their “work comes first” ethos.
In the changing advertising landscape, Massïf could not be business as usual. From the moment they rolled on their first shoot in July of 2017, it was clear that Massïf intended to be another animal altogether. The company’s aim was to create a home for creative talent and challenge the traditional model of production, which generally viewed directors merely as resources.
“Massif is director-led,” shouts Peter Carr, the veteran EP, from the back.
Instead, from the outset the goal was to place the directors at the helm, not only of the jobs, but the company. This way all resources would benefit the creative.
And at the core of Massïf’s DNA has been nurturing successful new talent from our creative research department. A high premium has always been placed on attracting young gifted talent whose abilities and careers we could help shape. “We hire Director’s in training. Not researchers.” Says Marc Sidelsky, an internationally renowned director and ex-researcher.
With the exception of Petar Spiljevic, who began his career as an art director, all of the directors at Massïf have their roots in research which we believe helps form a crop of filmmakers with a deep passion for commercials, film, content and music videos. This approach has generally afforded our new talent the freedom to take risks with their projects and swing big when they finally step up to the plate.
“Directors who graduate this process are truly prepared,” remarks Gordon Lindsay, who spent many years in research.
Additionally, the road from research to the directing chair has proven to be paved with awards. There is a proven track record of breakout successes. Dean Blumberg got off to an explosive start with a win from the Young Director’s Award, and Marc Sidelsky who was included in the highly lauded Saatchi & Saatchi New Director’s Showcase with his debut piece of work. And that’s not to mention the slew of international awards since.
And true to form, over the past few years Massif has unveiled some thrilling new talent. Gordon Lindsay, who was launched a few years ago, was always destined for big things. That was never more obvious than when he was shortlisted for the YDA in 2016 with his commercial for Dimension Data. His penchant for inventiveness and creative risk-taking have become a trademark feature of his storytelling and made him hot property with agencies. Since he was launched Gordon has directed memorable and celebrated campaigns for clients including McDonald’s, KFC, Penguin Random House, and Aware.org. You can view his film for Aware.org below:
And speaking of auspicious starts, in the past year Massïf launched Nare Mokgotho, who has exploded onto the scene. In the short span of time he’s been at it, Nare has quickly etched out a place for himself in a crowded industry by bagging 2 Gold Screen Wards at the 20th edition of YDA for his first two commercials. His idiosyncratic humour mixes the absurd with grounded everyday moments making for some captivating work.
The latest addition to the roster is Ying-Poi De Lacy, a young director who is a fast-rising talent with relentless creativity. She was already well on her way when she directed a series of music videos for indie-rock outfit Bye Beneco, but it’s her recent compelling film with Massïf, Cadbury Diary Milk’s “The Little Generosity Shop” that has us convinced that she is in a league all of her own. Even at this early stage in her career, it’s easy to see why Ying has already garnered praise and earned recognition as someone to keep an eye on.
Spend some time with this bunch and you’ll soon be infected with their dynamic and easy-going spirit. Any chance they get, everyone piles into the research room where they talk about TV, movies and advertising. “We love to argue about films. It’s the family pastime” says Dean Blumberg. It is quite clear from talking to these directors that what Massïf has managed to create in addition to world-class films is a unique company culture. They are a group of passionate filmmakers obsessed with storytelling and who have the rowdy exchanges of a genuine family.