02 October 2018, News

AFDA are delighted to have our alumni speak at our Open Day on the 13 October 2018. They will be sharing their experience and knowledge gained working in the entertainment industry in their respective fields with prospective students and parents.

Adam Thal – producer @ AFDA Johannesburg

AFDA alumni and executive producer Adam Thal has achieved colossal success executive producing commercials in particular. He founded The Star Film Company over 15 years ago after graduating from AFDA with a BA honours degree in Motion Picture Medium, majoring in producing.

Describe the moment you knew you wanted to work in film and television?

I know it sounds clichéd but when I was about six I watched E.T. and I immediately fell in love with filmmaking. I took my dad’s handicam and would make home videos of everything. It followed me into primary school and then high school until I found out I could make a career out of it, and then pursued my passion as a business. It was only at AFDA that I found my passion in the production of the 30 second spot.

What exactly does the job of an executive producer entail?

The term executive producer in film is very different to executive producer in commercials, and so at present my role entails representing and marketing my stable of directors to advertising agencies around the country. I am also responsible for making sure the right teams work on the right jobs at the right time. I oversee my line producers on each project and try and put out fires wherever necessary. In this game you are only as good as your last job, so it’s extremely important to keep the quality and service level as high as possible every time.

As someone who produces both film and commercials, which do you prefer and why?

Commercials have taken over my life and the film side has taken a back seat, but with that said, I absolutely love commercial production. Every project is so different to the next one that we are always learning and exploring new things, places and people. Not many careers take you to Russia, Egypt, Kenya and Los Angeles to work.

You founded The Star Film Company, tell us what led to the making of the company?

I was sitting in a producing lecture in my honours year at AFDA, and my late business partner and I decided that we wanted to open a production house that didn’t follow the normal mould. We were young, energetic and hungry to turn the commercials industry on its head. We were very naive at the time, but I guess now with a company over 14 years old we did something right!?

What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?

Probably when my late business partner Ryan Poole sadly passed away in a car accident in 2007. I hit a point where I was contemplating closing down the company or continuing in his honour. Luckily that’s when fellow AFDA alumni Tristan Holmes became my business partner and we decided to push on even harder in Ryan’s honour. It was the hardest time that led to an exciting rollercoaster ride.

What has been your career highlight(s) to date?

Being able to shoot in some of the most interesting places in the world. Some of our commercials have taken us to Russia, Los Angeles, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana and hopefully many more exciting places to come.

If you could remake any Hollywood classic with an African twist, which would it be and why?

I would definitely remake FAME because having gone to AFDA for four years and been on a campus with wannabe filmmakers and performers, I noticed the talent we have in this country that doesn’t get to shine. I am also a HUGE fan of musicals, and FAME with a South African musical twist in a South African setting would be amazing!

Who are your mentors? Why them?

One of my first mentors in this game was Deon Opperman. As one of the forefathers of AFDA he used to take Ryan and myself aside and give us one on one lectures. He was inspirational and one of the biggest motivations in us going out and doing our own thing. In life my biggest mentor is my father who has always guided me and in a non-pushing way led me on a track of running a successful business. He also backed me when I decided that I wanted to pursue Film Production as a business.

What advice do you have for young people wanting to follow in your career footsteps?

Follow your dreams and if you have enough passion, devotion and drive to being a success, then nothing will stand in your way. Also enjoy the rollercoaster rides. My wife gave me the best saying in life which sticks with me every day in business, “You have to experience the tough times in order to really appreciate the good times!”

SIYA MAYOLA - actor @ AFDA Cape Town

AFDA Cape Town alumnus, Siyabonga Ricky Mayola, is a South African actor born on the 10th of May 1988 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Siyabonga Mayola was raised in Port Elizabeth where he attended primary school at Victoria Park Grey. It is there where he first got on the stage where his class performed in front of the school. He was to play the role of a teacher but was later changed to play as the class trouble-maker and prankster.

After matriculating at Alexander Road High School he decided to take a year to pursue his acting dream and attended Stage World Theatre School in Port Elizabeth. In 2012 Mayola was one of the main cast in “Faces Of Betrayal”, a workshopped play, directed by Dr.Christopher John and Caroline Duck. Faces of Betrayal explores the lives of young people living in Cape Town through a series of events involving moments of betrayal which went on to be performed at the Grahamstown Festival and in Cape town.

Early 2013 Mayola appeared in “Blacks Sails”, an upcoming television drama series created by Jon Steinberg and Robert Levine for Starz which is set to debut in January, 2014. He was cast as a Young Slave where he had to learn how to speak Yoruba, a Niger-Congo language spoken in West Africa. In late 2013, Mayola appeared in a leading role in the short-lived SABC 1 13 part drama series, Amaza which had 7.5 million viewership when it aired in 2014, playing the part of a young artist Bongani Mapanga. Mayola has also appeared on Mzanzi magic’s Isikizi season 1 & 2 and appeared on the Afrikaans series Sara Se Geheim.

Siya, recently performed in the award-winning and acclaimed apartheid-era play, The Island, written by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona and directed by AFDA Live Performance lecturer Chris Weare. Siya and fellow actor and alumni Luntu Masiza, took The Island to the National Arts Festival 2018 in July and won a Standard Bank Ovation Award. They then jetted off to the International Festival of Theatre Schools SETKÁNÍ/ENCOUNTER in the Czech Republic and the  Edinbrough Fringe Festival in Scotland where the play received rave reviews. The Edinburgh49 gave the play an “Outstanding” rating and headlined the review with; “A masterful piece of literary theatre, brought to life commendably by perfectly cast performers.”

Nathan Rice – director @ AFDA Durban

AFDA Durban alumni Nathan Rice is a young film maker based in Durban who has been passionately making films since the tender age of 13. Nathan achieved a BA in Film Directing and Screenwriting in 2015 and is currently working as a film writer/director with his new production company, Untitled Entertainment.

Nathan began shooting his first films at home on a VHS camera and since then has gone on to shoot a number of films. Nathans AFDA graduation film, Homeless, has been selected to screen at various festivals in South Africa as well as abroad including DIFF and Shnit where it was nominated in the Best South African Short Film category. Homeless won the Best Film Award at the Kleinkaap Short Film Festival 2016 and also nominated for Best Director and Best Actor (Cebo Zikhali).  Homeless also had the remarkable honour of being selected as an official candidate for the Student Academy Awards 2016.

Nathan’s next short film Faulty won the Best Short Film and Best Director awards at the Simon Sabela Awards 2018.

Nathan at present is working on several different films for cinema, online and TV. He has shot a number of music videos and will soon be stamping his name on commercials. His major passion however still lies with cinema and he is currently working on two feature films, one as writer/director and the other as director.

Marcelle du Toit - producer @ AFDA Port Elizabeth

AFDA Cape Town alumnus, Marcelle du Toit, completed her BA (Hons) in Motion Picture Medium as a 2013 Mandela Rhodes Scholar. She graduated with a double major in producing and costume, make up and styling (CMS).

 Marcelle’s skills exposed her to additional part-time opportunities and entrepreneurial ventures including commercial industry commissions, event co-ordination and teaching opportunities. As an experienced dancer, Marcelle became involved in group dance training for schools and universities. Marcelle entered the film and entertainment industry full time in January 2014 and is currently a production manager at Stage 5 Films in Cape Town.

Marcelle worked as the Production Manager on the multi award winning films Noem My Skollie (2016), directed by fellow alumni Daryne Joshua, The Whale Caller (2016) and the South African western, Five Fingers for Marseille.

In 2018 she produced the mini-tv series Liberty and the short film Cowboy Dan.

Marcelle believes in the investment of emotional intellect within the corporate environment

AFDA is the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance, and is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training as a private higher education institution under the Higher Education Act, 1997. Registration certificate no. 2001/HE07/012.

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