Introducing: Darling | Not the Production House You Might Expect

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Darling is a newly launched production house with an approach as unconventional as its name. Headed up by Lorraine Smit and Melina McDonald, it is currently comprised of seven directors who were selected for their versatile set of creative skills that go over and above directing – including photography, art, music and design.


Melina (who has been a production house producer her entire career) and Lorraine (who was an agency producer for 12 years before moving over to the production house side of things) first got to know each other while working on TV spots with TBWA, as producers on either side. Later, they ran a successful production house together as executive producers for a number of years, which brings us to their current position: the founders and executive producers of their very own venture, Darling. “It was time for us to get a place of our own, our own Darling,” says Lorraine. “With our clients’ requirements rapidly changing, we wanted a flexible and organic production offering that would allow us to grow and adapt easily, with immediate access to the right talent for each project that comes our way.”


From the get-go, they’ve done things differently. Their directors are young, multi-faceted, clever and there’s no room for ego. In short, they’re all proper darlings. Visual artist, musician, director, designer and editor Louis Minnaar is one of the Darling directors, who blew Lorraine and Melina away by his inventiveness, visual effects and the level of delivery in his work. John Trengove is a talented filmmaker (and performance director) whose bold and adaptable approach to directing makes him an ideal collaborator for long term projects. Ross Garrett, highly regarded as one of SA’s top photographers and with a host of directorial pursuits behind him, is recognized for powerful, emotive and evocative visuals. Jono Hall is a director, cartoonist, chef and writer – but most of all a storyteller, with a fresh approach to everything he tackles. Jeana Theron has a background in fine art, which she incorporates into every piece she takes on. Chloe Coetsee has a passion for filmmaking that’s hard to beat, and whose sense of humuor and enthusiasm are infectious. And finally, the latest addition to the Darling team is Zee Ntuli, a natural filmmaker whose debut movie Hard to Get has already had much acclaim.


The company’s name was shortlisted from about 200 possibilities that Melina and Lorraine slowly whittled down. They each liked the look and the sound of the word Darling, which reflects their love for their industry, clients and work. It was only after working with Jana + Koos however that all the possibilities began to come alive and they realised just how versatile the name was. “It was so perfect for our company premise, which is also about being adaptable,” Melina says.


Conceptual design duo Jana + Koos were the perfectly unusual fit to do the branding for Darling. “The really good thing about Lorraine and Melina is that they don’t only say they do, but really have an alternative approach. They’ve built this production house around the directors and the fact that they all have different and divergent talents,” Koos tells us. “Our brief was to develop a visual identity that reflected this spirit, included all the different personalities and that wouldn’t be limited to a certain type of output. Our solution was to create a visual identity that functions as a tone, and as a way of talking, rather than a standalone logo. The word ‘darling’ appears always appears in sentences and statements, reflecting the character of Darling. In keeping with the spirit we all decided the best way to gather imagery for the identity was to send Ross Garrett on a roadtrip to Darling (in the Western Cape) to capture young love. We didn’t really know what the outcome would be but that’s part of the charm of this brand and a testament to their approach. We did a lot of the work from New York and over Skype and in hotel rooms, which proves that the combination of people is always much more important than how fancy your boardroom is.”


Where to from here? Lorraine and Melina envision a production house that will become recognised for the amazing experience it provides for all their clients, their crew and themselves – and they’re well on their way to making it happen. Though the venture is still fresh out of the water, they have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline, one of which is a collaboration between two Darling directors Louis Minnaar and Jono Hall which is soon to be revealed. In the meantime we’ll be keeping a close eye and are looking forward to what Darling (and all its darlings) have in store for us.


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Branding and concept by Jana + Koos

Website built and coded by Janine Allison


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