Watch: The Better Man Project Short Films

We tasked four director's to explore the idea of being better men through a short film.

Kirsten Curtis |

Becoming the best version of yourself can be a daunting task. It takes courage. We wanted to recognise men who, over the years, have risen to the challenge. To celebrate two decades of our magazine and its slogan – “making better men”, we tasked four director’s to explore the idea of being better men through a short film.

Shane Knock – “The Desert”

As a lover of all things wild, Shane’s adventurous exploration of what makes each of us who we are is rooted in using imagery and sound to convey an affecting message with artistic flair. A strong believer in making an emotional connection with the audience through imaginative storytelling, he is not afraid to confront and portray raw reality and lives for subtextual poetry found in the detail of everyday life. He won Best Film and Best Director at the 48Hour Film Project.

How did you get into directing?
I loved films, went to film school (because at that stage there were no written exams and all the assignments and portfolio work was practical), and quickly fell in love with the creative aspect of storytelling.

What made you want to get into directing?
I’m someone who needs to do different things all the time. I can’t be stuck in a room at a desk in front of a computer all day long. I love the outdoors and the adventure of different experiences, with interesting and diverse personalities. Filmmaking seemed to be the route that held the most appeal.

Did you always want to be a director?
No, I actually wanted to become a plastic surgeon and received a bursary to study medicine, but chose the film route instead.

Related: 7 South African Actors That You Should Be Following On Instagram

Siphiwe Myeza-Mhlambi – “Peanuts”

SJ is from the bustling city of Johannesburg but has made Cape Town his home. After his studies, he joined 7Films, which has moulded him into the director he is today. He is now a majority shareholder of 7Films, which is an award-winning production company, rated 2nd in South Africa. In his debut-directing year, his work won him a gold and silver Loerie at the 2016 Loerie Awards. At the age of 22, he was the youngest winner and was ranked 3rd in the country. He won Gold again at the Cannes Lions Awards in 2017. He was voted one of the 200 Young South Africans by The Mail and Guardian, which recognises talent and leadership.

What advice do you have for other young directors trying to make it?
Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Put those 10 000 hours in, back yourself and run your own race.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Retired…JOKES. I would love to see myself in the feature film space, working on an international scale. Also, I would like to expand the company, 7Films, across our borders.

Who’s your favourite director?
God [laughs]. He created the world and directs destinies. Reality truly is stranger than fiction. I really enjoy Martin Scorsese, Chris Nolan, Ryan Coogler and David Fincher.

Favourite movie?
That is not a fair question, [laughs], but if I had a gun to my head it would be between Training Day and Seven.

Dirk Van Niekerk – “The Surgeon”

As a young professional, Dirk van Niekerk’s passion to create compelling stories combined with his creative flair makes this award-winning director someone to keep in mind. With accolades such as a Silver Lion at the Cannes International Film Festival, Gold at the Loeries, and a Gold Craft Award for Cinematography and Directing, as well as other recognitions, it’s safe to say that Dirk is a well-rounded director. According to the Loeries Official Rankings 2017, he was ranked the #1 cinematographer in the Country.

Did you always want to be a director?
Not really, I always wanted to act and be in movies. But then I discovered a camera and that changed everything. Then, I wanted to make films, and that meant I had to be a director.

What did your parents say when you told them?
Growing up, my step dad always supported my creative side. I was a bit of an artist and an actor in school and I think he always knew I’d be doing something creative.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
SET, SET, SET! The first actual time you get to see the project come together, and working with all your awesome crew.

Lourens Van Rensburg – “The Arrival”

Lourens van Rensburg started 7Films. He loves telling stories because he can’t spell. No jokes, Lourens’ reasons for becoming a director revolve around his dyslexia and ADHD, which led him to be more creative and passionate when it comes to films.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey? Who helped you along the way?
I am completely dyslexic and suffer from ADHD. In 1974, when I went to school there was no such thing as dyslexia, you were either lazy or stupid. I was very fortunate because lucky for me my dad’s best friend placed a stills camera in my hands and that changed my life. I decided to go to film school and then got the opportunity to travel the world. I met the most beautiful girl in the world and decided to marry her and have the greatest kids.

What made you want to get into directing?
I was dyslexic and suffered from ADHD, so I thought I couldn’t do anything else.

Did you always want to be a director?
I could not spell other occupations.

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