08 Sep Positive Thinking in Todays Digital Age with Dan The Director
Dan Mace is a filmmaker, director and Youtuber (DantheDirector) based in South Africa. A central theme that runs through Dan’s work is highlighting positivity, positive thinking, happiness and turning away from the negativity that plagues today’s digital age.
Dan’s video on happiness and his comments within this interview highlight you should live every day of your life happy and that the modern day ideologies are fake of ‘wanting someone else’s life’, as there are many people out there looking at your life and wishing it was theirs.
I was lucky enough to talk to Dan Mace about his positive thinking, and how this mindset reflects his work. Dan is on a mission to make the Internet a more positive place and that his viewers should be happy with their own lives instead of idolising others around them. This interview explores Dan’s path to where he is today, his mindset, inspirational quotes and the story he would most like to tell in the future.
Positive Thinking in Todays Digital Age with Dan The Director
How did you become a filmmaker? –
Ever since I can remember I have always been very expressive. When telling a story I end up going into so much detail I sometimes forget the point of what I was trying to say anyways, I guess I try and make everything as visual as possible.
I soon realised that I am not an actor, but I have a vision of how an actor should act and how a story should be told visually; which lead me to filmmaking. It kind of just happened; I was about 14/15 when I starred in a McDonald’s commercial and saw everyone working behind the camera which really interested me. With my payout from the commercial I bought myself and old Panasonic digital HD camera and from there I started making music videos for my friends in class, the Locnville brothers, and later was flown to Madagascar to shoot a travel surf film for O’Neill.
When I left school I knew that this industry was where I wanted to be but didn’t know exactly what position I was best at as I did everything myself. Slowly I learned that I fitted the position of a director best, but still had to keep shooting and editing as I could afford to hire anyone yet; which makes me a ‘filmmaker’ I guess. I don’t really enjoy the term [filmmaker], it’s so broad and everyone is a filmmaker nowadays. I later started a Youtube channel called Danthedirector, where I upload content when I have a spare moment. I use the channel to showcase positivity and to inspire others out there to ‘Do More’, there is so much negativity online and my give back is to try to add to the positive stories being told and not focusing on the day to day negative bullshit you know.
How would you best describe your style of work? –
My work is ever changing; for the better, I hope, as I grow as a filmmaker. I would say I am very aesthetic orientated, even when doing a quick clip for Youtube I focus on making it as pretty as possible, then I focus on telling the story. Most filmmakers like to do it the other way around, but I like to nail the aesthetics to make sure it’s visually entertaining through clever editing and camera techniques. The ability to tell compelling stories will come over time the more films I make. Essentially I want the perfect synergy between creative visuals and engaging story in order to make the near perfect film; about anything, as long as it’s inspiring, that’s where I see my talent, telling inspiring stories.
A lot of your work focuses on positivity, how important is this message to you? –
Positivity and inspiration are where I focus my attention. I believe that my films have the ability to inspire people, as we all need inspiration. In this day and age there is so much depression and anxiety going on; I have anxiety myself and this largely comes through this fast digital world we live in; seeing things we didn’t even know existed on a daily basis, being told that everything is going to die or fade away, there is a melancholy attached to the feeling of love as we know that deep down it’s not going to last forever. I take all the above and drive it towards the positive; so what if its not going to last forever, so what if you go on Facebook and see 100 people standing in a photo together and think ‘shit I wish I was that popular’, you know what – that’s not real, none of these new age ideologies are – be happy with who you are and embrace every second of every day because there are so many people out there who look at your life as their dream they wish they were living.
How do you stay positive and productive? –
To be honest, I go through the biggest downs. Like any creative nothing will ever be perfect and once a film is coming to an end I’m already thinking about the next one – it’s like a vicious cycle that I am completely head over heals for.
I can’t explain the feeling I get when an idea sparks in my head and I know it would make the raddest film, it’s like a drug. I stay awake for however long it takes to get it down on paper and then call up my film mates and see what we can do about making it as soon as possible. I’d say the people who watch my films inspire me to create more, everyone is so supportive I never get any negative feedback only constructive criticism, which is super awesome for me. My parents are literally the biggest legends and have always been there watching my films right from the start and I would say I draw a lot of inspiration from them too.
What advice would you give to people looking to perusing their dream career? –
There are going to be some serious downers along the way, but keep your mind focused on the ultimate goal and do small things every day to reach it. Nothing happens overnight, but if you’re doing things for the right reasons then there is no way you can fail. And always have a mentor to guide you in the right directions and help you make decisions you literally can’t.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned? –
That everything good takes time; don’t rush it. Especially in filmmaking, you need everything to be as authentic as possible and authenticity takes time.
What piece of work are you most proud of? –
My first ever Youtube clip. It’s a film called ‘Press Play Smile‘ that I filmed in two days running around Cape Town. It’s the clip that inspired me to keep going. I was at a crossroads of my life between becoming an office boy or pushing through and making it on my own.
How important is it to do what you love and be happy? –
That should be anyone’s priority. What’s the point of doing something that makes you feel shit? If you are financially stuck and are forced into a position, have a goal, start saving and creating your pathway to the top.
Do you have a memorable quote? –
Yes, a Thomas Edison quote: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” – when I read this quote it totally changed my outlook.
Also, “The fear of suffering hurts more than the suffering itself”, I read that in a Buddhist book sometime, but it really stuck with me too.
“Nothing happens over night”. - Dan Mace
What is the story that you would most like to tell but haven’t already? –
There is a young ballet dancer from the township, Gugulethu, a really poor informal settlement, here outside Cape Town who got accepted into the New York school of dance recently. He dances amongst the gang-infested streets. I really see a beautiful film in this, telling his story.
What advice would you offer to someone starting out? –
Make as many films as possible. Focus on your sound and music selection as it plays a way bigger role than you think. It’s so easy to guide a viewer’s emotion with music and the correct sounds.
If you could go back and tell your 18-year old self one thing, what would it be and why? –
Don’t party so hard and focus on your career. I’d be so much further now if I tried harder on the weekends, but then again, maybe feeling lost and letting loose guided creatively, who knows, but yeah I wish I tried a little harder back then.
What do you do in your spare time outside of work? –
I surf, a lot. I have recently started yoga – the best choice I have made in years. I hang out with my mates here at home. Mates are very important.
What is your favorite film and TV show? –
What is your favorite musician? –
Red Hot Chili Peppers for sure. Ant Keidis is a Rock Star.
What is your favorite current book? –
HUMANKIND by Leo Burnett.
What is your favorite food/ meal? –
Basil Pesto Gnocchi with bacon and pine nuts, just the way my girlfriend makes it, Best, ha.
What is your favorite video game?
Not one for playing video games, but I did get stuck into FIFA for a while.
What is your favorite mobile app? –
Positive thinking is a message Dan clearly wants to present to his audience. If you enjoyed this article then why not read some of our other creative interviews here.
Pictures used in this article are used with permission from Dan Mace.
You can find out more about Dan Mace and follow what she is up to from the following social links: