Meet The Darlings

Darling by name, Darlings by reputation. When producers Melina McDonald and Lorraine Smit first launched Darling Films in 2014 they envisioned offering clients more than just skilled directors. The two came to realise that you actually can choose your family and now have 8 incredibly versatile directors, many of whom have been with Darling since inception. They’re diverse, unique and adaptable, but above all, they’re a Darling family! In keeping with the spirit of the hard-hitting journalism you have come to expect from iDidTht, we did some digging into their heritage.

MEET DARLING ZEE – Director, Art Rebel, Filmmaker & Writer

Zee Ntuli, the youngest member of the family, might be up and coming, but he’s already working his magic on set. He loves all things epic, yet at the same time brings a lovely human touch to his work.
iDidTht: ‘What did you want to be when you were growing up?’
Zee: ‘It changed once a week between being a lawyer, a chef, an actor, a painter and a musician. And then someone said you could dabble in all of those things if you get involved in directing, and I thought ‘well that’s perfect!’
iDidTht: ‘Which of the other directors at Darling would direct the movie based on your life?’
Zee: ‘Ross Garrett. He just has a really attentive eye, a really sensitive soul and it reflects in his work. I think he’s delicate but still esthetically brave. And it would be called…hmmm, that’s a big one, woah!
iDidTht: We love that as a title! ‘That’s A Big One, Woah!’

Zee’s Story

‘Shooting the 100 year campaign for Ackermans was fantastic, we had the rare opportunity to tell true stories about the lives of some incredible human beings.’

iDidTht: ‘Darling Films is…
Zee: ‘My Darling.’

MZI KUMALO – Director, Music Lover & All Round Darling

‘Storytelling is innate for me. I love the impact of imagery and how you can change the scope of things or someone’s interpretation of life. I love how images can move people.’

iDidTht: ‘What did you want to be when you were growing up?’
Mzi: ‘Psychologist and music producer were the big ones for me and the impact of what those things meant to people. So whatever it was that I wanted to do, it just had to touch people in some way.’

We’re In Love With Mzi

‘What I liked about the DSTV spots were the measured performances and aesthetics. We could really land the performances and feel the actors. It was for Valentine’s Day and we did it with Ogilvy.’

iDidTht: ‘Which of Darling Directors would direct the movie of your life?
Mzi: ‘Right now it’s between Chloe and Zee. I like Chloe’s take on humour and the timing and I relate to her quirky style. Zee is quite a serious director, at the same time he can play in the humour arena and he has a great eye. It would be called ‘Ta-Tswi’ which means ‘Uncle Badass’.
iDidTht: ‘Darling Films is…
Mzi: ‘Family.’

MEET DARLING JEANA THERON – Director, Artist and Fashionista.

‘When I realised Melina and Lorraine were starting Darling I was like ‘I’m coming please thank you!’

A quick glance at Jeana’s body of work and you’re instantly transported to a better world, a world of beauty and stunning visual imagery. She has an eye for the pretty and all things feminine, but she’s fierce as hell!
iDidTht: ‘What did you want to be when you were growing up?’
Jeana: ‘When I was little little little I wanted to be a fashion designer but when I was 16 I decided I wanted to be a film director after watching Jane Campion’s The Piano – I was like ‘that is what I wanna do’.’
iDidTht: ‘Fashion? So what are the your fashion trend predictions?’
Jeana: ‘Digital illuminated virtual reality clothing.’
iDidTht: ‘Please no! We’ve only just made peace with skinny jeans!’

iDidTht: ‘Which of the Darling directors would direct the movie based on your life?’
Jeana: ‘Ross. He has a baby the same age as mine, so he knows what that’s about and his work is beautiful, so he’d make my life look beautiful too. I hate giving names, ugh sh*t, but let’s go with ‘Jeana, The Girl’.

Jeana Directs Beautifully

‘I did that Environ ad about two years ago. It was a road trip and so much fun. It was three days and it was completely spontaneous. We sort of had a structure, but mostly we just went with the flow.’

MEET DARLING JONO HALL – Director, Pop Up Food Guy and Rubbish Cartoonist

‘‘There is like a fat kid in me. Every time someone comes into the room and says ‘so-and-so wants to brief you on something’ my heart still leaps at the idea that someone out there still thinks that I can do a great job with their work.’’

iDidTht: ‘What did you want to be when you were growing up?’
Jono: ‘I literally grew up in a cave. My parents were archaeologists but they talked me out of it. I thought I’d really like to write, so I considered journalism, but that meant I wouldn’t get to take photos or play music. So it took me a long time to figure out that film making was all the things that I loved squished into one ball.’
iDidTht: ‘What’s your superpower on set.’
Jono: ‘Sets are perfectly calibrated environments to encourage you to smoke. You have brief periods of intense focused activity and then you sit around doing nothing. When I quit smoking I started taking my high school cricket bat to set to give my hands something to hold that wasn’t a cigarette. So yeah my superpower is to hold a piece of wood!’
iDidTht: ‘We’re physically restraining ourselves from making a ‘holding wood’ joke.’

Jono’s Work Is Finger Lickin’ Good

The last 18 months has been a bumper period for Jono. Delivering really diverse work, everything from KFC Add Hope, which was a cartoon, to performance, storytelling and really interesting visual stuff.

iDidTht: ‘Which one of the Darling directors would direct your movie?’
Jono: ‘Probably Chloe, because she would make me a lot funnier in the movie than I am in real life. It would definitely be a comedy because comedy is tragedy plus time. It would be called ‘Wow, That Didn’t Quite Go As We Expected.’
iDidTht: ‘Darling Films is…’
Jono: ‘A family. I know it’s banal but it’s really a group of people that are with each other because they genuinely like each other, not because somebody is paying a salary for them to be there.’

*Editor’s Note: Let the record show that Melina and Lorraine would like to make it clear that they DO in fact also pay them salaries.

MEET DARLING CHLOE COETSEE – Director, Editor & Life of the Party

Chloe has recently installed Snapchat on her phone and well, we couldn’t stop her…

‘What did you wanna be growing up?’

What is your superpower on set?

‘What boards excite you?’

iDidTht: ‘Which of the other directors at Darling would direct the Chloe movie?’
Chloe: ‘Can I have everyone please? Jono, cause we’ve been friends since we were kippies. He’s my work brother and my bouncing board. Jeana, for some left of centre quirk, also she’ll make sure everything is lank beautiful. Ross, cause he just gets it… and yusslike, it’s fucking Ross. Zee, I mean Zee has directed actual films, just saying. Graeme…cause he can make me fly and dance like Gene Kelly. Did I mention it’s a musical? Thanks Graeme. Mzi will inject the ‘cool’ into it and Louis, cause it’s always good to have a genius on board.’

We See Her Name In Lights. We See Her Name In The Stars

All we wanna say here is that the Halls ad might very well be one of our favourite ads of all time ever!

MEET DARLING ROSS GARRETT – Director, Photographer & Fly-Fisherman

Everything Ross touches is magical – from print (yes, he’s also a photographer) to moving pictures. He has an incredible eye and an amazing sense of taste and focus on the creative.
iDidTht: ‘What is one of your earliest memories as a director?’
Ross: ‘Having wrap drinks with the art director on my first TVC job. It was for Edgars and we were in Kalk Bay in Cape Town. She is now my wife!’
iDidTht: ‘You got game Ross! So, which of the other directors at Darling would direct the Ross movie?’
Ross: ‘Chloe Coetsee. I think she could see into the strange crevices in my mind. I think she would get the fact that I’m really not that serious at all. If it’s about me I would like a documentary called ‘The Dark Side.’

Ross Garrett Has That One Thing

‘I just loved that National Lottery commercial, the whole process was just amazing.’

iDidTht: ‘Darling films is…’
Ross: ‘A good feeling on the inside.’

Meet Darling Louis Minnaar – Director, Animator, Musician & All Round Genius.

‘I also pre-produce electronic music and I have a classical background. I play cello.’

‘Okay okay, no need to brag’ we think to ourselves. But of course, Louis is not bragging. He is about as humble and gentle as you get, a true artist. A multidisciplinary director that likes to be challenged, constantly moving between mediums.
iDidTht: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Louis: ‘My parents are architects, but I ended up studying art and always had this idea of becoming an artist.’
iDidTht: ‘What is your superpower on set?’
Louis: ‘I have an unusual approach to post-production. So my superpower is the kickass ability to work and direct for post-production. From 3D and 2D animation, visual effects to sound design and music.’

Spreading Awesomeness Throughout The Galaxy

‘I co-directed the VUZU AMP commercial with fellow Darling Jono Hall. I was in charge of the design and we did all the 3D. I’m very much into sci-fi. It was a dream come true to design the spaceships and animate them.’

iDidTht: ‘Darling Films is…’
Louis: ‘Otherworldly.’
iDidTht: ‘Which of the other Darling directors would direct the movie based on your life?’
Louis: ‘Jono. He has a really good sense of humour. It would be a dark comedy called ‘Minnaar To The Moon And Back.’

GRAEME CARR – Digital Director, Animator and Air Drummer

iDidTht: ‘Air drum for us immediately!’

Graeme looks at technology as the alternative way of telling a story. He comes from a post environment, speaks geek and because of his background as a creative director he is also fluent in client.
iDidTht: ‘Which Darling director would direct the Graeme movie?’
Graeme: ‘Probably Zee because he’d make me look like a badass gangsta. He is possibly one of the greatest talents I’ve ever worked with. But the reality is it would probably be Chloe because she would bring out the goofball that I really am. It would probably be more of a Will Ferrell movie.’

Graeme Goes His Way.

I’m very proud of the ads I did with Darling Zee for BP. While I’m working with Darling as a director I’m also with them as a visual affects person. So the BP thing was a great way to collaborate.

iDidTht: ‘What’s the best part of Darling?’
Graeme: ‘I love the way that they always celebrate everyone’s birthday and I love that at all the events, all the crew guys are always there, they are super inclusive. And for me they have been a second family, they just took me under their wing. I owe them everything that I am today, I love them to bits.’

There is no doubt that talent runs in the Darling family and if you look closely the resemblance between them all is uncanny! They’re quirkier than your arty aunt, crazier than your drunk uncle, wiser than your gran and more talented than your overachieving cousin. Give them a call and say ‘hey Darling!’


Contact Darling Films

View Darling’s iDidTht Page
Executive Producer: Lorraine Smit –
Executive Producer: Melina McDonald –

Produced by the iDidTht Content Studio
Credits: Writer – Anne Hirsch / Art Director – Julie Maunder

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