Photograph of Cape Town-based electronica duo Floorslive by
Photograph of Cape Town-based electronica duo Floorslive by Devon Armstrong

Blacksmith Collective is forging a new agency model

Founded by Diogo Mendonça and Marcus von Geyso, Blacksmith Collective calls itself a production collective rather than a production house. Rather than focusing on the old agency model which sees creatives churn out work 9 to 5, they’ve developed a new model which allows them to assemble teams of the best people for the job, based on the brief at hand. With a network of more than 200 creative partners across South Africa, they are able to tap into a vast talent pool and scale easily according to the project needs. “We can do anything from a 10k event to a million rand full scale production TV ad. It’s just about building the right teams,” says Mendonça.

Having met at Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg, the two decided to work together after Mendonça decided to become an entrepreneur and invest in a production house. Bringing von Geyso on to the team, the two built their industry contacts through shooting and producing music videos, especially hip hop. “About a year after that that’s when we decided to branch out and start Blacksmith and do it our own way,” explains Mendonça.

Having worked with a range of clients, both locally and internationally, the team at Blacksmith decided to do something for themselves and show what they are capable of, resulting in an ode to Johannesburg called ‘The Streets’. “It’s an indication of how our business model works and exactly what we’re trying to do as a business whereby everyone on the project believed in the idea and there was no budget used in this so everyone from the DOP to the cast members to the editor to the producers, everyone really liked the idea,” says Mendonça.

Thanks to the trust they’ve built with clients, Blacksmith is able to assemble teams consisting of the best people for the job, be it fresh talent or experience. “It’s about fostering the young but it’s also about fostering the best person for the job. Sometimes that’s experienced, sometimes he just has the eye, sometimes it’s the new kid on the block. At the end of the day if it’s for the integrity of the work then cool, that’s what we try and do,” says von Geyso.

With a unique approach to the industry, the Blacksmith Collective is looking to disrupt the traditional agency model. Von Geyso explains, “We believe that the agency model is not the way things are going to be done in the next two to three years. We feel like creatives wanna be free to do what they want and choose projects they wanna work on and not necessarily sit at a 9 to 5 and push out work. So that’s kind of where we step in.”

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