Work With Integrity And Respect: Ying- Poi De Lacy, Massïf

I’m drawn to scripts or projects that either have a strong concept or potential for a strong concept.

Ying-Poi De Lacy
Director Massïf
Johannesburg, South Africa
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What is the role of a director?

The director sets the vision for a project and every decision made and the steps taken guide the project towards this vision. The director offers a distinctive creative voice and ensures that it gets done, and done well!

Tell us about your background and what led you to where you are today?

I’ve grown up in a very creative family and a family that established itself in the advertising industry in South Africa. So I’ve always been a part of or aware of this world. I’ve also grown up watching films and tv and I so wanted to know how this world worked. I was cast in a German cereal commercial when I was 14 years old. Seeing the monumental process and team work that was involved in the making of this commercial, I knew then and there that I wanted to be a film director. I pursued this dream and studied Film & Tv studies and Screenwriting at university. Once I graduated I found a job as a film researcher at a production company, Bouffant. I continued my research journey at Massif where I am now currently a director!

What are the challenges/satisfactions of the job?

I don’t want to focus on the challenges we face, because there will always be challenges with every job but it’s overcoming these challenges that makes it satisfying. Another satisfaction is being able to collaborate with so many different people on all different kinds of jobs. Being able to collaborate with a team that is trying to achieve your vision, overcoming challenges and seeing that unfold is one of the most rewarding feelings. You are nothing without your team around you in this job.

Do you have on-set rules for the crew, if any?

My most important rule on set is that everybody needs to work with integrity and respect. I will not tolerate any abuse, discrimination or prejudice on set. We work in an industry where teamwork is essential and it would break my heart to know that someone has been made to feel less than or alienated from the team.

What is the most common phrase you use on set?

Could I get another coffee?

Tell us about your best-ever day on set.

My best ever day on set was my first commercial shoot I did for Cadbury. It was the first time I was working with kids and I was so nervous walking onto set, until we starting rolling on our first shot. All of a sudden I was excited and blown away by the performance of our little lead actress who was 6 years old at the time. There was this excited and optimistic buzz that could be felt on set. We could feel that every shot from then on was going to be great! Everyone on set worked so well together, we worked hard and we were getting amazing results! A shoot I’ll never forget.

What is the most useful advice you received from a fellow director?

The best advice I’ve received from a fellow director is that you can’t say yes to every job that comes your way, especially when you’re starting out. You’re busy building your reel and your career as a young director. One bad job could sink your career before it even begins or pigeon-hole you into a direction you never wanted. 

When looking at a new project’s script, what usually draws your attention?

For me, it’s all about the concept or storyline. I’m drawn to scripts or projects that either have a strong concept or potential for a strong concept. 

How has the pandemic affected your work? Are there any Covid work policies that will possibly be adopted permanently?

Shooting during the time of Covid-19 is definitely tricky but doable. Ultimately, the most important thing is that everyone on set is safe. There are so many more protocols in place now before we even step foot on set and during our shoot to ensure a safe working environment so that we can focus on the job. The biggest challenge is timing. We have to set aside time before, during and after the shoot to sanitise EVERYTHING. We are also streaming our live footage to clients and agency so that there aren’t too many people on set. So approval on a shot can take longer than usual, especially if there are connection issues, which is bound to happen. Everything takes a little longer and you just need to be prepared for that. One thing we should definitely continue to adopt on set is the general awareness of cleanliness amongst the crew and cast. People wash their hands more regularly and having hand sanitiser stations is really helpful! I’m also loving the individually packed meals, those can stay, recyclable of course.