The Directors: Paul Ramaema
A Johannesburg based director, Paul is a multi-faceted TV commercials; music video and branded content director with the strong ability of bringing any idea to life. From the influential experience of having worked alongside a plethora of industry directors as a creative contributor, this is what gives his distinct style its unique attribute and approach in treating each project with its own personality and nuanced style. A 2019 gold ProMax winner for Best TV promo; 2019’s CICLOPE Africa nominee for new talent and a 2x SAMA (South African Music Award) award nominee for best music video. His elaborate understanding of youth culture and social relevance are key contributors in elevating his work and giving each film the high-end appeal and premium value it requires both aesthetically and visually. This has led him to working on and with some of South Africa’s most iconic brands and artists, making him one of the country’s young and sought-after directors. Paul has been featured in numerous digital online publications including Source Creative, ScreenAfrica and between10and5 to mention a few. An avid creative who enjoys music, photography, film and people and the creative arts. It is his extroverted, yet calm and kind personality which people are drawn to and enjoy about his collaborative creative process. An advocate for meditation and health and wellness. He is a firm believer in attracting the sort of work that embodies his lifestyle from a social and interpersonal context, enabling him to create from a place of inspiration, mindfulness and passion.
LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?
Paul> To create a better sense of clarity for oneself, agency and client expectations. Best case scenario would be to familiarise oneself with the documented brief, if one exists, in prep for the agency debrief. This assists in knowing, as well as having the right questions to ask, generating ideas and giving a general feeling of confidence about what the requirements for the script are before journeying into the directors treatment.
Once the first process is covered, I try my best to consume as much content related to the themes of the script or general references which may have been mentioned as much as possible. Depending on the turn around time of the pitch, this determines whether I do it hours after the debrief or a little later. Although usually it's the first approach, considering how obsessive we can get in order to bring our best foot forward. This would later re-enforce the style and design my treatment will take in order to best suit the personality of the script.
With the use of additional search sites, social media platforms and pages I think best relate to these themes, I pull as much of them into personal creative research folders that are compartmentalised for each section I will be writing for. This includes and is not limited to stills, music videos, commercials, etc. With the assistance of additional creative researchers if the need calls for it.
It becomes a little tricky when it comes to consulting the production team as sometimes the research may influence the writing, which would influence the budget. Other times it's the writing which would influence the research which would then influence the budget. I enjoy both processes and involving the team earlier on in order to make it a cohesive workflow and in case they may have any ideas which I may have not thought of, and to keep me within budget adherents. This helps them with their costing as well.
Filter out what is essential and begin making the hard decisions on what is not necessary and what is, both from a written and visual reference perspective.
Lastly, depending on the technical requirements of the script, we would consider to either involve any outside departments prior or post the pitch process. I.e. Any SFX, stunts, or anything outside the ordinary world of the commercial we might need to chat about beforehand.
LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?
Paul> I feel that this is usually the responsibility of the creative agency to have that sort of insight and understanding to their strategic plan more so on behalf of their client. Our positions and roles as directors should be focused on the creative. However, with a more detailed understanding of the LSM of the particular brand's aesthetic, it does essentially add value in contextualising our visual approach in how to best align the treatment to that strategic plan. 50/50.
LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?
Paul> Director / Producer relationship
Your producer is responsible for ensuring you manage budget expectations accordingly, they ensure that you are confident with what you need creatively, manage your schedule/calendar; Maintain relationships with your agency teams and most importantly, understand your workflow as a creative and know how to best support that in their respective ways.
LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?
Paul> I enjoy work that is intentional, conceptual and with good social messaging. I am not particular about the sort of genre it is or how challenging it may be, just as long as its something I feel passionate about and will feel comfortable in taking ownership of it on my reel, lol.
LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?
Paul> Any sort of pigeon holding - Misconceptions around my race or age..
Race - The thought of being prone to doing a certain type of work or being considered to certain kind scripts that are for people who share similar race relations or cultural nuances/sentiments as I may thought to have/be.
Age- Being young and only doing work which is considered contemporary or ‘cool’ is also a stereotype I am against..Stories are universal, concepts are universal and so are genres. We need to give the particular job the kind of approach needed for its most suitable requirements, in its most authentic form and format, age and race and background should not be a determining factor in a directors ability to deliver, and sometimes experience, because with the right amount of knowledgeable teams around and trust in them and yourself anything is possible.
LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?
Paul> No, it would be something worth experiencing.
LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)?
Paul> Mostly based on agency deliverables…The camera and edit teams should all be aware of this in meeting the format requirements as best as possible. Usually best discussed upfront during the pitch phase with your creative agency team and then the rest of the crew in order to fully prepare, technically, and be equipped with all possible resources needed to achieve that.
LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?
Paul> In matrimony, we often use remote viewing for clients and agencies on sets now, with virtual presentations and approvals being a norm. Would love to engage in more advanced areas of this.
Interactive storytelling/AI data driven visuals, something I would love to get more involvement with.
LBB> Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?
Paul> Styling concepts - displays my ability in understanding local nuances and visual aesthetics in profile youth centred lifestyle in a cool and stylish way.
Samthing Soweto Akulaleki - shows my ability to take any form of musical genre and give it a heightened, visual and iconic imagery related to the world of the music.
Vawter - The unconventionality of table top work, feels fresh and contemporary
Ford Everest - Storytelling and narrative capabilities. Profiling a day in the life of with brand association being shown simultaneously and effortlessly.
Brand South Africa - Showcases a diverse understanding of peculiar cultures and travel content.
A seat at the table - intentional work with a strong social message approached with simplicity.