One of South Africa’s Leading Directors, Sam Coleman Signs with RSA Films for First U.S. Representation


By Egotist / /

Directorial sensation Sam Coleman, whose creative roots in South African fashion, street culture and design helped him showcase Pan African youth culture, has landed at RSA Films for his first U.S. representation. An award-winning director whose recent work includes standout campaigns for VW, KFC and ON Running, Coleman is renowned for epic visuals, seamless VFX, film craft and authentic performances. His hybrid creative pedigree includes founding a digital agency while still at design college and being hired as Creative Director of South Africa’s Young Designers’ Emporium where he showcased and collaborated with emerging fashion design talent, leading everything from fashion shows to window displays. This led to posts as an award-winning Art Director at 180 Amsterdam, working on adidas Originals, as well as Mother New York on Stella Artois and Tanqueray before he made the leap into full time directing.

Naturally drawn to music and dance-driven films and collaborations with choreographers, Coleman has been tapped to direct electronic music culture projects. Ballantine’s “Stay True” series featured Black Motion, the South African electronic duo known for blending house music with indigenous percussion and multilingual vocals. The promo “Midnight Drum” for Club Pilsener, reconnected the brand with younger consumers. The video shined a light on the Ugandan capital Kampala with raw textures and a cultural menagerie of dancers, BMX riders, skateboarders and artists. In bringing together luminous musical talents from South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria, Kampala became an epic night-time backdrop set to the beats of APass, Fik Fameica, Rouge and DJ Maphorisa.

While working in Johannesburg, Ryan McManus, VMLY&R New York’s Chief Creative Officer, brought Coleman on board to help reconnect one of the country’s most well-loved department stores, Edgars, to youth. The resulting collaboration was “Don’t Tell Me What To Do – An African Musical.” Coleman’s unique direction meticulously wove together an enormous cast of a cross section of South African culture including Afro pop sensation Sho Madjozi, a full gospel African choir, a heavy metal band from Soweto, a township roller skating club, trans gender activists, dancers and many more.

“Sam’s highly collaborative nature and natural ability to connect with people regardless of background, ethnicity, origin, race and orientation was able to bring the project to life,” McManus said. “Don’t Tell Me What To Do” won a Bronze Entertainment Lion at Cannes and a Gold Loerie, among other awards.

Coleman recently directed spots for Audi and Coca-Cola, and campaigns for VW via Ogilvy Cape Town. VW “Game On” features the new Polo in an Afro-futurist Metaverse replete with avatars, NFTs and a gamified cityscape. 

Coleman directed this summer’s bewitching “Can’t Resist” campaign for KFC, which was widely praised by industry tastemakers. The series of tantalizingly dark and moody performances portrayed the very moment when we give in to our deepest desires, in this case KFC.

Coleman has been called upon to work with elite athletes, including gold medalist Olympians. He directed “Superfrau” for ON Running, featuring Swiss triathlete champion Nicola Spirig. The emotive Clio Sports-winning film was set against the backdrop of balancing motherhood and training in the Swiss Alps. Audi SQ8 “Lane 8” centers on South African runner and world record holder Wayde van Niekerk. The film intimately recreated the psychological battle of Van Niekerk’s world record smashing 400m win from the notoriously difficult eighth lane, the outside lane from which no one had won before. Other credits include spots for Beck’s, ABSA, adidas, Edgars and Kwese, to name just a few more.


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