Hybrid Creative Talent & Award-winning Director Sam Coleman Joins RSA Films U.S.

Prior to directing full-time, Coleman was lead art director on adidas Originals at 180 Amsterdam


September 13, 2022, Los Angeles—Directorial sensation Sam Coleman, whose creative roots in South African fashion, street culture and design helped him showcase Pan African youth culture, has picked RSA Films as 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 unorthodox background 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.

“The first time I saw Sam’s work, I was absolutely hell-bent on our working together!” said Luke Ricci, President, RSA Films U.S. “Sam’s voice is an amalgam of magical realism, epic world building, emotive performance and much needed winks. His storytelling is playfully imaginative in the most exciting way. His versatility across genres is truly impressive. I attribute this to his many years spent honing his craft in agencies on different briefs before crossing into directing. I’m honored to be his first U.S. representation.”

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. AOTW called the result “the hottest pan-African music video to come out of Uganda.” 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.

There was more high praise for Coleman’s promo for Nigerian artist Patoranking’s “Open Fire ft. Busiswa.”  Okay Africa wrote of its “arrestingly stunning visuals” and called it “next level.” “Open Fire” depicts everyday sights in African city streets and transforms them into magical realism via a dystopian Johannesburg with futuristic Afro Queens on white horses as well as eagle-shaped drones.

Coleman’s high style has caught the attention of blue-chip brands as well. He 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. In “The Power of Vrr Pha!” the speed of the new GTI is compared to the pace of the normal world seen through the eyes of a commuter on his way to work. This project won Ciclope Africa Gold earlier this year.

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. He is equally at home creating eye-popping visuals born in video games and nuanced observational performances in a series of single takes for the financial sector.

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.  

Coleman commented: “When I was a creative at 180 Amsterdam and we’d be surrounded by a sea of  directors’ reels - Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Frank Budgen, Glazer and hundreds of others - someone said, ‘At least we’re not directors, there’s too many of them.’ But my secret dumb ambition was to become one of them. RSA was one of those fabled companies up on the wall of DVDs that had a magical aura of making incredibly crafted work. I always knew I wanted to wait for a company on that level, so when RSA reached out it seemed surreal. Then when I met Luke Ricci it was the turning point in the conversation. He’s bringing a fresh energy and a vision for RSA’s future which is hugely exciting.” 

You can see Coleman’s reel HERE.

About RSA Films

RSA Films is a global commercial production company founded by directors Ridley and Tony Scott. Renowned for creative excellence and production expertise, for over 50 years RSA Films has produced innovative, award-winning campaigns for agencies and brands worldwide. Based in London, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong and Greater China, and with a roster of leading global creative and production talent, RSA Films promotes diversity, purpose and agility in all forms of content.

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