Award-winning director Robert dos Santos has proven once again that he has found his calling in film by winning the Best Advertising Short category at the Best Global Shorts festival, a festival that curates and screens the best of all shorts across the globe.

The award comes after he and his team raised the stakes and drew inspiration from outer space for their latest cinematic offering entitled, To the Stars.

The commercial lived up to its name by going for the stars and racking up an additional seven award nominations worldwide.

South African Director Robert dos Santos

South African Director Robert dos Santos

“We are not too focused on praise but are more concerned about meeting and exceeding international standards. We are looking to meet our international contemporaries head-on and then push the boundaries even further. Our competition is not local but global and it is important we have a benchmark in which to measure this. I want my team and I to focus more on working harder instead of thinking too much about the praise,” said Robert.

In addition to the Best Global Shorts festival, To the Stars, has been officially selected to participate in seven festivals worldwide, San Francisco Indie Short Festival, Sydney Indie Short Festival, Paris International Short Festival, Dallas Film Festival, Dublin Film Festival, Stockholm Short Festival and the Philadelphia Film Festival.

According to Robert the goal is never to create, intending to win at festivals.

“I don’t think that mindset is healthy and will have you chasing your tail. Our goal is to put our heart and soul into every project and ensure that it is a complete success. My team and I have been fortunate and we are incredibly grateful for our wins.”

Robert believes in consistency and uses that as his yardstick.

“This is the third project in a row that has taken international honours and that is the benchmark my team and I are striving to meet and maintain.’’

To the Stars is a short film and television commercial created for Restonic by Robert, telling an inspirational story of growth and achievement through dreaming big and shooting, quite literally, for the stars.

Following and reaching your dreams is a concept the Cape Town-based creative is well versed in having given up his safe career in corporate and commercial law just three years ago to follow his dreams of filmmaking.

“When I heard that the brief behind the campaign was to create a story which inspires people to dream big I absolutely jumped at it. My life changed completely when I leapt from the world of law into the world of filmmaking and if there is something I know about it is dreaming big and living for inspiration. I had to be a part of it,” said Robert.

His leap of faith has paid off as he has since been nominated for more than 30 local and international awards, having walked away with numerous accolades including several best short film wins in Los Angeles and an honourable mention by Hollywood New Directors.

His latest film is for Restonic, a USA-based company operating locally which is built around the slogan “Supporting Dreams Since 1938”. Instead of generating your typical hard sell advert Robert and his team looked at the ethos of the company and crafted a heartfelt narrative that encapsulates the soul of the company in supporting the dreams which we all strive towards.

“The concept was to dream as big as you possibly can. For me, nothing is bigger than the final frontier of space. So to marry the idea of inspiration and dreams I created a story about someone who dreams of going to the moon and then who, through hard work and dedication, achieves her dreams,” he said.

To bring this plan into action Robert worked with the top creative minds in the country.

“The set build, which was headed by the incredible Chris Lategan, who has been involved in projects for Netflix, Amazon, and many others, was one of the biggest asks for the project. To recreate the vast emptiness of space and the moon we needed exactly that, a vast amount of space. To make the world feel real for the audience it needs to be real and not be done using green screens or VFX, which means that you need to rebuild the moon in the studio. People joke that the moon landing was faked in a Hollywood studio, so we wanted to show that you can actually do it, and we did.”

The commercial received a lot of attention straight practically since it’s initial release which saw it featured on the Ads of The World, the world’s largest commercial advertising archive, as one of the best ads currently in circulation and is on display alongside global campaigns for Amazon’s new Alexa and Lenovo’s GTA.

“Winning awards and receiving nominations has without a doubt helped international companies to find us and send us work. This will have a knock-on effect on those around us. When we are shooting locally for international brands we are helping uplift the industry to an international standard while also providing strong and inspiring work in what is traditionally a difficult industry,’’ said Robert.

This commercial comes hot off the heels of his latest film project, short film, A MOMENT, which was released earlier this year and received several international honours. The film stars SA-born, Hollywood-based actor Sean Cameron Michael as well as Jonathan Boynton-Lee.

For more details about the commercial, check out the project page

About Robert Dos Santos:

  • Robert dos Santos is an international award-winning Film and Television Commercials Director based out of Cape Town & Johannesburg South Africa. This once upon a time lawyer has thrown his suit aside and plunged headfirst into the world of directing with explosive results.
  • Having directed major productions for international brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Warner Music Group and been nominated for awards both locally and internationally this is without a doubt a director to keep your eyes on.
  • Steeped in the cinematic storytelling of auteur directors such as Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan he specialises in bringing a strong narrative vision and cinematic touch to all of his projects.
  • He has been nominated for 30+ awards locally and internationally including in the USA, UK, France, Germany, and Canada. Robert has won awards in Seattle, Los Angeles and Croatia.
  • He started directing 3 years ago at the age of 30. Prior to that, Robert worked as an attorney in a corporate and commercial law firm in Sandton, Johannesburg.
  • Simply put, one day he decided to give up law and follow my dreams to become a filmmaker. With no experience or formal training, I went from wearing Court robes and arguing in Court to wearing jeans and handing out coffees on set.
  • With his background and some help from friends, he moved from working on sets to producing and found his way into commercials. Then, about February 2019 he directed his first commercial which received 3 nominations both locally and internationally and cemented my desire to become a director.
  •  At present, Robert has directed a number of television commercials, music videos and fashion films. Brands I have worked for include Mercedes-Benz, Warner Music Group, Woolworths and others.
  • His most recent fashion film for Mercedes-Benz went international and I was nominated for over 10 awards worldwide including in the USA, UK, France, Canada, and others. I was fortunate enough to win for Best Film at the Croatian Fashion Film Awards. I always wanted to do an article on this achievement and the 10 nominations but never found the time.

Submitted by: Clayton Morar Media