11 Questions with MATTHYS Boshoff

09 August 2023

Written by


Learn about his favourite films made by himself and others, his yen for outdoor adventure, a harrowing river crossing he survived, & what happened to part of his left index finger.

The Sweetshop

Campaign Asia talks to director Matthys Boshoff.

How did you end up being a creative?

By trial and error and slowly, but surely finding my own path in life. I always had a rich imagination but growing up in a family of accountants and actuaries, and the fact that I excelled at maths and science in high school, meant creativity didn’t feature high on the radar—especially not as a career choice. At the age of 17, I went for aptitude tests and after the assessor told me I was creative, I had to ask my mom what ‘creative’ meant. That triggered a curiosity to find the creative me, and after quite a process I took the plunge to go to film school.

What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

In advertising, it would be a toss-up between a recent ad that I directed remotely for Discovery Bank in South Africa, and a branded content piece for the Singapore Tourism Board and National Arts Council in collaboration with dance companies The Human Expression, Singapore Ballet and O School, and music artist Weish. On the narrative front, it is hard to pick between my most successful short film that just killed it on the festival circuit (trailer) and my first feature film (trailer).

What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

There are so many in different genres, but if I consider only work released in the last year, it’s a stand-off between Denis Villeneuve’s take on Dune and Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s adaptation of Drive My Car. And in an advertising space I love The Megaforce’s latest spot for Burberry.

What/who are your key creative influences?

It’s more a state of mind than other artists or filmmakers. Being in the moment as I live, aware of other people and what happens around me piques my creativity the most. Call it the university of life.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

I crossed the hippo and crocodile infested waters of the mighty Kavango river in a dodgy little rowing boat that was leaking at the rate of knots—one person was literally scooping water out of our boat with a bucket as we crossed.

Who do you most admire?

Too many to mention, but right now a special place has to go to indigenous leaders at the forefront of fighting for the environment. Not just the fight, but the wealth of generational knowledge that they possess too.

Who’s on your dream dinner guest list (alive or dead)?

Two years ago, I would have given you a fancy answer. Right now, it would be my brother and a few friends whom I haven’t seen for a long time and reserve a spot for Russian Filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky at the table.

Tell us about the worst job you ever had.

During a gap year, I worked in a factory cutting people’s throw-away clothes into industrial rags. I even lost a small part of my left index finger in the process.

What would you do on your perfect day?

I would be outside to see the sunrise and outside to see the sunset. The time in between would be filled with adventurous activities with close friends, be that trekking, surfing, free diving or rock climbing, an afternoon nap, some reading, and we’ll pass the night under the stars on a mountain or around a campfire.

Tell us about a charity or cause you think needs more attention.

Gift of the Givers do the most incredible work around the world serving humanity; disaster response, hunger alleviation, water provision, health care, education, you name it. They were central to successful hostage negotiations with Al-Qaeda factions in Yemen and Mali.

Do you have any recurring dreams?

No, but once in a while I dream about events that come to pass later and that’s quite a mind-bender. When I was 10, I cracked my elbow during amateur wrestling training. I had never met or seen the specialist but as I walked into his consulting room, I realised I had seen him in a dream a week before.

This article was first published by Campaign Asia, 31 March 2022.