Ian Gabriel


Ian Gabriel is a South African film and commercials director based in Cape Town, South Africa.

He directed the film Forgiveness starring Arnold Vosloo, which treats the theme of forgiveness in post-apartheid South Africa. His 2013 film Four Corners was selected as the South African entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

I Am Driven By | The chance to continue working and what that offers not only to me but to others to see the world in different ways. To enable the transformation of the world according to our different views and imaginations through the work we do.

My Highlights | It was always a point of great pride to me to have worked at Dorkay House in my early twenties. Dorkay House in Eloff Street was the center for Black theatre in South Africa in the bad days of Apartheid. We’d work there to create ways to keep actors musicians and dancers working and visible to a South African audience when a lot of the work was repressed by the government of the day. With political activity largely banned or driven out of the country and South African film largely a spokesman for government policy through its control of TV, subsidies and tax rebates, it was often the work of actors and musicians  that was the most ‘radical’ and outspoken in carrying a message to audiences. Apart from the excitement of the times I loved and still love the excitement of witnessing actors create performance and thus transform the reality they’re in.   In more recent times I’ve loved making the films I’ve made where that same transformation of reality occurs.

A Key Talent | Making movies whether as a director writer or actor is all about being able to see others and see oneself. I think the skill that I have always had since my youth was enabled in part by the fact that I felt somewhat outside of events that were occurring around me. This was not a disadvantage, but an advantage in that I felt well positioned to observe others and observe their behavior. And that is something I recall constantly in my work to try to be true to what I’ve seen and what I know. I think the essence of strong performance comes from authenticity, that’s why actors work so much at sensory recall and personalization, those skills are all about recalling actual moments in ones past that give us a guide to how to be authentic as we perform in the present.  I look for the touch-points that are true in others and in myself when I collaborate as I do with writers actors and film technicians. We’re all looking for the thing we know in order to re present that in fresh and authentic ways.

Principles I Live By | I do think it’s important to remain true to yourself and to have faith in your dreams. But having that faith is not enough on its own, I do think you have to fight to realize even a portion of ones dreams. But if they’re worthwhile dreams then even that portion is a good enough reward.

Lessons I Have Learnt | I’m always intrigued when I see the differing reason for excitement in others at the same projects and ideas that excite me.  Harnessing those many creative responses seems to me to be the essence of all creative work. It’s an extremely collaborative process that is made possible by real trust between creative individuals

Dealing With Doubt | I think self-doubt is completely normal and to be expected at all times. It’s sitting there on your shoulder waiting to trip you up, and it’s an important component both for the drive to succeed and a trigger for the humility that one hopefully retains as one is succeeding.  Self doubt is always modified and tempered by the desire to achieve something greater than the doubt that holds you back.

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I read and watch movies all the time.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | To keep working at what I love

Advice On Building Wealth | Try not to think about growing rich as an objective. Hopefully it’s a by product of good work.

Interview Questions

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