YouTuber, film-maker and creative thinker Dan Mace sits down with Wits Vuvuzela to discuss his awards, his work and his fuure plans.

Typically, YouTube celebrities create themselves on a foundation of sad stories, other people’s slip-ups or barely watchable vulgarity. Following a new trend on social media however, South Africa has produced a YouTuber of its own with a 60 000+ following to boot, whose films do only one thing, they tell stories of happiness.

Dan Mace, or Dan the Director as he is known on social media, speaks in a similar manner to the way he edits videos. His words come out fast, in long sentences which form even longer paragraphs covering every angle of the topic which he is busy with.

Sitting at a coffee shop at O.R Tambo airport en route to Wales, Mace explains how he first developed an interest in film at the age of 14, when he was a young blonde haired model for a McDonalds advert bewildered by all the equipment and excitement on a film set. Soon after, he used the money which he made from modelling to buy a film camera and an apple computer for editing, and found himself making surf films of him and his friends.

Now 26 years old, Mace spends his time behind the lens with a very specific vision as to what he wants to achieve with his films. He left the sphere of commercial advertising with the belief that film can change people’s perceptions, if only the people producing film would choose to point their lenses in the right direction.

“There’s a fine line between the kind of work that I’m willing to do, and the work that I turn down,” said Mace.

So far, his selective approach to projects has served him well, with two of his films taking home silver medals at the recent Cannes Lion film festival in France. His feverishly edited documentary short titled Mine Sniffing Rats details how the military are now using trained rats to clear mine fields in Mozambique and won 2nd place in the Changing the World Frame by Frame category. Another of his short films titled Gift, a fictional account of an optimistic Cape Town youth’s passion for dancing at robots, took 2nd prize in the Short Film category.

Mace is undoubtedly proud of his achievements, but he emphasises that he is content with where he is now and remains humble about what he does.

“If it’s the right story I get happy doing it, I just need to make sure I get through the month,” said Mace. “Maybe when I’m 30 I’ll have a change in mindset when it comes to how much I charge. For now I’m not looking to get rich.”

With his current team, which includes his father to keep his budget and logistics under control, Mace was able to produce Mine Sniffing Rats for around R70 000 including travel which is a fraction of the cost of large scale advertising productions.

After returning from Wales where he’ll be lecturing teenagers on filmmaking, Dan already has trips planned to both Ireland and Iceland this year where he’ll be working on new projects. Based on his energy and enthusiasm, Mace’s future seems to share his optimism.