Dan Mace: Authentic story-telling from behind the camera

Dan Mace is a young creative and visionary Film Director, Youtuber and the founder of JOE Films in Cape Town.

Over his 10-year career behind the camera, he has directed over 100 commercials, music videos, documentaries and short films spanning four continents. Having joined YouTube in 2011, he has grown an audience of over 783,000 subscribers and has amounted to over 35 million views of his films.

He writes, produces, directs and edits the majority of his own work and considers himself to be an all-round creative. As a director, his talent lies in his authentic story-telling abilities and honed technical knowledge both on and offset. However, he believes his greatest asset is his open mind and the ability to think differently in order to craft a meaningful narrative that moves people. Dan Mace is an altruist with an earnest desire to see the world changed for the better and it is this desire that he uses to fuel and inspire his films.

Over the span of his career, Dan has won multiple accolades including three Young Director Awards at Cannes Lions, an African Crystal Film Grand Prix, Bronze Loerie Awards, Ciclope Africa Editing Craft awards, and the Creative Circle ad of the month, amongst others.

Q&A with Dan Mace

How did your career in the industry begin?

My filmmaking journey began when I was in high school. I was asked to do a presentation in front of the class. I was socially awkward as a teenager and loathed the idea of any form of public speaking. I saw an old TV in the corner of the classroom that had not been used in ages. I asked the teacher if I could rather put a video together and she agreed. I played the video and got to see the audience reaction for the first time.

Through this, I learned the power of video. I started realising that it is not only the camera work, but you can also add sound, music, performance and all of this would help evoke the emotion that you are trying to portray. Ever since that happened, I fell in love with the art of filmmaking. It was pretty easy once a little bit of skill merged with talent and a keen interest in wanting to make a career out of it.

I started getting my first paid jobs in high school where I would film smaller music videos for friends and classmates and little documentaries for surfers.

If we had to answer the question of where did it begin in the traditional industry, that all happened when I was 20 years old I self-funded a film with my cinematographer friend Fabian. We made a short film called “Gift” in Cape Town, which was entered into a Cannes Young Director Award and ended up winning. From there, I was approached to be a director for a production company, and that is where my journey started in that traditional sphere.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

“Stop listening to answer and start listening to understand”

Tell us something about yourself that nobody knows.

When I was about 10 years old, I spent a year trying to build a helicopter that I was convinced would fly, it was made purely out of wood. Needless to say, I was a big dreamer.

What is your biggest career highlight so far?

Building a community of like-minded female and male filmmakers online called the Bru community. Here, I can connect and share ideas, be vulnerable and watch other people grow to be a part of their narrative. I am very grateful for that; it is by far the biggest highlight of my career.

What projects are you currently working on?

Right now, besides building Joe Films, my film agency, we are working on really exciting projects for Discovery+, as well as my first feature film, I start production next year. I am also busy finishing off my YouTube channel.

How do you think we can grow the creative industry and bring African content to the world?

It is already happening, there are incredible African and South African filmmakers and storytellers, there just needs to be more support. I think when it comes to filmmaking, education works differently, and I think that when you have the gift to be able to tell a story, you just need the means to be able to do it. In filmmaking, the means are; equipment, budget and financing.

What separates South Africa from the rest of the world is that we do not have a solid film fund, and there is no significant support for filmmakers and content creators. I do not think that the talent or the quality needs to change- I think it is brilliant; we need to have a stage to showcase the unique skill sets that we bring to the table.

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FAME Week Africa

FAME Week Africa

FWA Connect bringing the Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment sector together by providing creative industry professionals on the African continent with news, trends and in-depth articles.

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