David Forbes S.A.S.C. (Ret) is a self-taught workalone, multi-award-winning South African director and producer honed by his training as a cinematographer and his earlier work as a photographer, journalist and newspaper sub-editor.
With a film background that began 38 years ago, he has worked in 36 (24 African) countries around the world for most of the major TV stations and broadcasters, on hundreds of commercials and documentaries, scores of dramas and corporates, and more than 20 feature films.
He is also a consultant, writer and editor in his own right, who distributed and sold exclusively African content to the global market for six years. He has organized, presented and hosted workshops and panels at prestigious events like Hot Docs, the Durban Film Market, Discop Africa, MIPCOM and MIP-TV.
As David Forbes, S.A.S.C. (Ret), one of SA's top TV director/cameramen, he has won a string of awards, from Cannes and London, to local Loeries, SAFTTAs and Visible Spectrum Awards and nominations. David thrives on high-energy projects requiring creativity, speed, commitment, and economy.
He is also a Wits Business School graduate, a qualified Advanced Open Water scuba diver and his aerial filming logbook is more than 100 hours.
In 2016 he consulted to Sandman Productions, and Ma-Engere Productions while facilitating a shoot for Copper Pot Productions (USA) and continuing with filming and writing for his own projects, including a feature film script.
2015 saw him working on his own projects, while re-organising his business. In 2014 he sold more than 300 hours of Afrlcan content to the global market, and completed a 20-year documentary project, “When I Was Water”.
In 2013 he completed two films, notably “The Long Hunt of Roy Sesana”, for CCTV News. In 2012 he made "Gun To Tape", a film about two Kenyan world champions preparing for the London Olympics which was nominated for a AMAA Award for Best Documentary. David Rudisha set a new world record for the 800m at the London Olympics.
In 2011 he continued production of his film “When I Was Water” and toured the festival circuit with his 2010 award-winning film "The Cradock Four" on the murder of anti-Apartheid activists in 1985, having spent much of 2009 in post production in Paris. In between principal photography across South Africa and facilitation took him to Mauritius, Malawi and Mozambique for private clients Unicef and PBS.
In 2008 he travelled to Ethiopia to shoot a CNN Heroes piece, and Unicef chose him to film Lucy Liu in Cote d'Ivoire, Clay Aiken in Somalia and Kenya, and Joel and Benjy Madden from the rock band Good Charlotte in Central African Republic. He also shot a number of commercials, and several big corporates, notably HSBC and Anglo. In 2007 he did four Unicef projects while on chemotherapy, tracking US Idol Clay Aiken in Afghanistan, and fundraisers in Swaziland, Dafur, and India. In 2006 he produced and shot a pilot film about the Manuscripts of Timbuktu and continued with his own feature doc, “The Cradock Four”.
In 2005 he worked extensively on the Wits University Origins Rock Art Museum, shooting hours of aerials. He conceptualised, produced, and directed a display for the award-winning Mohale's Gate Museum at the Cradle of Humankind and filmed in the war zone of northern Uganda. In 2004 he directed a corporate for the Saudi Arabian CAA "The Falcon Terminals", directed a commercial, and shot Unicef films with Laurence Fishburne & Lucy Liu, and a doc on Helen Suzman.
In 2003, he shot a number of high profile doccies, notably CBC's harrowing HIV-Aids doc “The Value of Life” for “The Nature of Things with David Suzuki”, South African struggle hero bio “A South African Love Story – Walter and Albertina Sisulu”, and “Winter Is July”, a short film about the murder of an anti-Apartheid activist. He directed and shot several high profile corporates and attended MIP-Doc and MIP-TV in Cannes, France to promote his projects. He won a cinematography award and was invited to join the SA Society of Cinematographers.
In 2002 he shot the Aussie award-winning “AfriCan Solutions”, a 13 x 26-min doc series on technology in Africa, and a CBC doc on the World Summit on Sustainable Development. He was DOP on “S'camto Groundbreakers II”, a dramatic youth challenge, shooting 13 x 26' episodes in 16 days, with 17 cameras and six crews. He worked on the award-winning doc “The 12 Disciples of Nelson Mandela”, shown on POV. In 2001 he shot “Tobias's Bodies”, a 6 x 52-min doc series on the human body presented by top paleontologist Professor Phillip Tobias, and was DOP on “S'camto Groundbreakers, SA's first reality TV show. In 2000, top UK company Wall To Wall TV tapped him for “The Elephant Whisperer”, and “The Dune People”.
His first film as DOP in 1988 won the 1989 Weekly Mail Short Film Competition, but he left for Australia, returning in 1991 after Mandela was released. Commercials he has shot won a Silver Lion at Cannes, a statue at the London International Advertising Awards, and three (local) Loeries.
Clients include: Arte, Animal Planet, BBC, Brave Films (UK), CBC (Canada), Channel 4, CNN, Discovery (USA & Canada), Faction Films (UK), HBO, Hubbub (UK), ILO, IRC, Marquee Films (UK), Monkey Factual (UK), National Geographic, NHK, PBS, SABC, The Vision Corporation, Tokyo BS, Travel Channel (USA), Velocity, Wall to Wall (UK), and UNICEF.
2014: "When I Was Water" 84' Hi Def Dir/Cam/Prod: D Forbes S.A.S.C.
2013-2014: “Winnie Mandela – A Tragic Heroine” 30' Hi Def Kenya/SA Co-Pro for CCTV. Prod/Dir/DOP:David Forbes.
2013: “The Long Hunt of Roy Sesana” 30' Hi Def. Botswana/Kenya/SA Co-Pro for CCTV. Prod/Dir/DOP: D Forbes.
2012: "The Bag On My Back" 48 min. Hi Def. Zim/SA Co-pro. DOP: David Forbes
2012: "Gun To Tape" 48 min, Hi Def. Kenya/SA co-pro. Prod-Dir-Cam: David Forbes
2010: “The Cradock Murders: Matthew Goniwe & the Demise of Apartheid” 52' Hi Def. Dir/Cam: David Forbes.
2010: “The Cradock Four” 92 min Hi Def. Dir/Cam: David Forbes
2005: “The Talker” Mohale's Gate Museum, Maropeng. 2 min display. Dir: David Forbes
2004: “The Falcon Terminals: The Saudi Aviation Story” 20 min, DigiBeta. Dir/Cam: D Forbes
2004: “Khulanathi” Corporate for World Association of Girl Guides. Dir/Cam: David Forbes.
2003: “SASAR” Corporate for SA Search & Rescue Org. Dir/Cam: D Forbes. 3 Cameras, aerials, air to air, sea rescue etc.
2003: “Nelson Mandela” videotaped corporate speech to Marseilles Corporate Dinner Party.
2001: “The Cobra Club of SA” CTN TV (DVCam 16:9) 1 x 13-min Corporate Dir/Cam: D Forbes
1998: “The Long Tears – An Ndebele Story” (SP, 52 min Co-Prod SABC 3) Prod/Dir/Cam
1998: “Kusile–A New Beginning” (SP,10 min) Dir/Cam: D Forbes. Corp to sell SDI investment.
1998: “Durban 2003” (DV, 10 min) Dir/Cam & 3 hours of aerials: David Forbes. Corp Comm for SA to winPIARC international congress for Durban in 2003 (They won the bid!).
1997: Series: “ESPU” (Digital Sony 13 x 26 min) Director/Cameraman & aerials. Series director: P Gasek (US) Wildlife cop show for Animal Planet, Discovery Channel (US) (Feb-Nov 1997).
1996: “Darkness & Light – The art of Trevor Makhoba” (SP, 26 min, SABC). Prod/Dir/Cam.
Awards & Festivals Filmography:
2016: "When I Was Water" invited to Rapid Lion Film Festival, the Mzansi Women's Film Festival and screens at the Luxor African Film Festival in Egypt.
2016: "The Cradock Four" nominated for a SA Film and Television Award for Best Cinematography in a Feature Documentary.
2015: "The Cradock Four" was nominated for a MUSE Award for Best Feature Documentary Script.
2013: Berlinale: The South African project STEPS for the Future was presented with a Special Teddy Award for HIV Awareness at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival. David shot one of the original films of the series, which began in 2000.
2013: “Gun to Tape” invited to Zanzibar International Film Festival.
2013: “Gun to Tape” Nominated for an AMAA Award for Best African Documentary.
2010: “The Cradock Four” Winner, Best SA Documentary, Durban International Film Festival
2010: “The Cradock Four” Finalist, Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award, Durban International Film Festival.
2010-2012: “The Cradock Four” Official Selection, Encounters Documentary Film Festival, Tri-Continental Film Festival, Aljazeera Documentary FF, SA Film Festival (Moscow 2012), Luxor International Film Festival, and many others.
2010: “The Cradock Murders – Matthew Goniwe & the Demise of Apartheid” Screened at Liege Film Festival in Belgium. Official Selection, Africa on Screen Festival in Johannesburg.
2009: “The Manuscripts of Timbuktu” winner of Walter Mosley Award (Real Life Doc Film Festival-Ghana 2009) Dir: Z Maseko, HDCam, DOP: David Forbes & N Hofmeyr
2009: “The Manuscripts of Timbuktu” – official selection for the IDFA festival 2009. Dir: Z Maseko, HDCAM, DOP: David Forbes & N Hofmeyr
2006/2007: Cancer battle (I won!)
2006: ”The 12 Disciples of Nelson Mandela” Independent Spirit “Truer Than Fiction” Award Nomination. DOPs: David Forbes and Jon Karvel.
2005: “The 12 Disciples of Nelson Mandela” wins Jury Prize for Best Documentary at Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. Dir: Thomas Allen Harris, DOPs: David Forbes and Jon Karvel
2005: “The Talker” Display at Mohale's Gate Museum at Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind. Museum was winner of British Guild of Travel Writers' Award for “Best New Tourism Projects Worldwide”.
2004: “The Long Tears” screened at Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester, UK.
2003: David Forbes invited to become member of SA Society of Cinematographers (SASC).
2003: “Tobias's Bodies” wins Ide Suisse Award (First Prize) at Basel-Karlsruhe Festival 2003 for Best Educational Programme for Adults 2003, cited for “excellence of technical quality and beauty of the footage”.
2003: “The Dune People” Wins Silver Visible Spectrum Award for cinematography.
2003: “Tobias's Bodies: Are we all Africans?” wins for “Creative Excellence” (Science) at US International Film and Video Festival “in recognition of outstanding audio-visual production”.
2003: “AfriCan Solutions” wins 3 Chris Awards - Honorable Mention x 2 (Science & Technology) and x 1 (Social Issues) at 51st Columbus International Film & Video Festival 2003.
2001: “The Long Tears – An Ndebele Story” Invited to 2001 Parnu Film Festival in Estonia.
2000: “The Long Tears – An Ndebele Story” Official Selection for competition in Astra 2000 Film Festival in Sibiu, Romania (Oct 2000), and also for the Southern African Film Festival 2000 in Harare.
1999: “The Long Tears – An Ndebele Story” Screened at Sithengi Film Market, Fespaco '99 in Burkino Faso, Mipcom in Cannes, Natpe in the USA, and IDFA in Holland. Requested for 2000 Milan Film Festival and for Toronto Film & Video Festival 2000. Sold so far to 11 European countries.
1996: Nedbank “Youths” commercial. Silver Lion at Cannes, Statue at London International Advertising Awards, Special Mention at 1996 Loerie Awards.
1996: “Mabhoko: The Ndebele” (Beta SP 15 min) doccie pilot. Dir, Prod, DOP: David Forbes. Screened at SA Film Market , Cape Town, Nov 1996.
1996: “Business Against Crime” TVC. Special Mention at 1996 Loerie Awards
1994: “Peace” Commercial. Category Winner at 1994 Loerie Awards.
1994: “Fatal Abuse” (Beta SP, 17 min) DOP: David Forbes. Developing Visions Project (Soweto Group) Screened at 1994 Weekly Mail Film Festival.
1994: “Gatvol” (Beta SP, 17 min) DOP: David Forbes. Developing Visions Project (Eldorado Park Group) Screened at 1994 Weekly Mail Film Festival.
1993: “Crossing the Line” (U-matic Hi-band, 25 min) Dir: Mike Rudolph, starring Sean Taylor, Jenni Steyn and Susan Coetser) 2nd prize in 1993 Weekly Mail Short Film Competition
1992: “Enthombe” Hononary Mention at 8th Journees du Cinema Africaine et Creole, Montreal. DOP: David Forbes
1991: “Enthombe” Wins “Best Film” and 1st prize in docs at 3rd Weekly Mail Short Film Competition. DOP: David Forbes
1991: “Wise to the Jive” (Beta SP, 8 min) Dir: Nadine Dreyer, Tech Dir & DOP: David Forbes 1992 Weekly Mail Short Film Competition, (Bafta) screening in London 1992
1990: “The Boxer” won “Best Documentary” at 12th DIFF. DOP: David Forbes
1989: “The Boxer” (16mm, 20 min) Dir: Guy Spiller, DOP: David Forbes Winner 1989 Weekly Mail Short Film Competition, Screened at British Association of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) in 1992
Training & The Industry
David was active in training for 30 years. He wrote and ran the first-ever Clapper Loader Course in SA in 1987. He founded The Camera Guild in 1993. He helped form the PAWE TSC (trade union) and chaired it for a year, helped form the SA Guild of Editors and the Art Department Guild, and was a founder of the Consultative Committee's Training Trust Fund. He helped train producers and directors for “Dramatic Encounters”, and mentored several young people, including two street kids. David is a founding IPO member. He helped M-Net's student VUKA! Training, and at Soho Editors. He was active in the The Independent Producers' Organisation and the Documentary Filmmakers' Association, where he headed Strategy and Comms. He also sat on the Board of Sithengi in 2007/8 before resigning over poor corporate governance issues. Fot three years (2010-2013) he sat on the executive of the SA Screen Federation, the policy making body of the independent film industry, where he headed up Risk Management and Strategy portfolios and initiated a national discussion to form a National Film Strategy. He now consults to industry organisations and has served as a mentor for young filmmakers entering the industry.
David Forbes S.A.S.C. (Ret)
(South African Society of Cinematographers)
In Paris, 2009, under severe stress.
Goodbye hug from Lucy Liu, Cote d'Ivoire
"Discovering" the source of the Nile in 2005
With Dale Haddon in Dafur, Sudan, 2007
In Afghanistan, on chemo, 2007
With Lucy Liu in Cote d'Ivoire
The "editing chateau" in France 2009
"Imagine Africa" show in Soweto, 2008
Jozi City at dusk - my hometown, 2008
Samburu women in Maralal, Kenya 2002
Night shoot in Soweto, with Mzukisi, 2008
Stressed out in Cradock in mid-winter 2005
Extremely stressed out in Paris, fighting for quality and honesty in 2009.
With Mzuksisi on location, Soweto