Gus and Rafe know him as Dad, but the rest of us know him as an enigmatic filmmaker, intent on bringing our attention to where it should be. Wim Steytler is a commercials director represented by the Star Film Company.
So, who is this guy, Wim Steytler?
Gus and Rafe know him as Dad, but the rest of us know him as an enigmatic filmmaker, intent on bringing our attention to where it should be. Wim Steytler is a commercials director represented by the bad ass production house the Star Film Company in sunny South Africa. Wim caught the attention of the crowds a few years back when he snagged the Young Lions Young Director award at the coveted Cannes Lions. It's been an ever increasingly beautiful journey since.
Wim studied fine art and chose to pursue film as a medium to express himself; chasing uncanny moments and emotions. A true believer in depicting real people and real life; warts and all in a valiant effort to capture the beauty in the unexpected. Wim wishes to push documentaries in this space; pushing the aesthetic to create cinematic documentary, brimming with emotion.
Besides these creative interests, it was becoming a father of two boys that shaped him the most as a filmmaker. Children give us a crash course in humility after all. There is a tricky balancing act with filmmaking and family life, but fatherhood has definitely sharpened Wim's storyteller nature.
Wim has been in active development for two feature films; Heaven on Earth
. Both projects are based on true events which Wim translated a documentary interview approach to fictional writing. Heaven on Earth
is a thriller that deals with a doomsday cult in the Karoo desert and Scumbag
is a tragic comedy that takes a subversive look at the real humans behind the polarizing Zef movement. Both projects are currently in the process of securing funding!
We invited Wim to share some of his favourite pieces of recent commercial work and offer some insight on his process. Avbob
In my most recent vignette piece for Avbob, I looked at funerals across cultures, emphasising togetherness and spirituality amid death and bereavement. I wanted each moment to feel as authentic and intense as possible while still being gentle and beautiful. The narrative structure of the edit is arranged in a specific way to take the viewer on an uplifting yet understated journey of emotion. From a production perspective, the big challenge on this job was to capture the vast scale and diverse cultural traditions of mourning across South Africa. This meant we had to meticulously research each culture to respectfully represent their rituals in their finer details. We had to essentially squeeze a five-day shoot into three days, strip down the crew, cast and gear to the bare essentials and shoot as many scenes as possible in each location by swinging the camera into a different direction onto a new set, sometimes constructed from scratch.Kiwi
As part of a global campaign for Kiwi shoe care, I created a series of documentary-style commercials. These commercials depicted real, inspirational people across the world who bravely smash boundaries. They were all stories of unexpected triumph against the odds, captured in my truest style; cinematic and considered with grit and truth. It was a long trip away from home and my wife was in the early stages of pregnancy at the time with our first child, but travelling across the globe and having some time to explore each country while shooting made up for the extended time away from home. We met young heroes in Kenya's Kibera slums, I caught some unbelievable waves in Indonesian surfer's paradise, we immersed ourselves in the Paris street art scene, explored the tension between China's ancient and contemporary culture, drank the best Belgian beer with premier league footballers and had the ancient roman architecture of Bath in the UK as a backdrop for a fashion shoot. Spoko
I discovered the profound story of a man doing the impossible - the blind football coach - while researching possible stories for the Kiwi campaign. I immediately felt Dumisani's story needed deeper and longer form investigation, and I ended up making this short film as a passion project about how this man's eyes opened after he turned blind. It was another exceptional example of beauty in the unexpected. Dumisani became a close friend in the process and we are in regular contact. I now see people living with blindness as differently-abled and not disabled. He opened my eyes to the immense effort and resources it takes to run a football team, and also how sport can be used for a greater purpose as an effective and hopeful way out of the entanglement of social ills.
Wim resides in Johannesburg, South Africa with his wife and two children. When he's not working, he catches up on documentary series (surprise!) or podcasts and light reading (current favorite book: René Girard's I See Satan Fall Like Lightning
). Wim's work for Spoko won at Ciclope Africa 2020 and will be a finalist in the global Ciclope festival later this year.