CONTROL :: A Spoek Mathambo music video by Pieter Hugo & Michael Cleary


I remember the first time I saw Spoek’s Control video, being so completely mesmerised by it - I think I watched it more than ten times in a row, and for days afterwards I came back to it, again and again. Now after a few years, I am as captivated as I was the first time I saw it.

It goes without saying that it is visually exceptional, but for me what I love about this video is how the visuals are so perfectly (and seemingly effortlessly) integrated into the idea, and into the track, without a single frame or detail that feels gratuitous. From the very first frame of the slug-like creature crawling along, a feeling of eerie intrigue and tension is created, and that intrigue and tension builds as the track progresses - the viewer is drawn in and never let down.

Visually, the framing and the stillness of the camera show a restraint that juxtaposes perfectly with the frenzied action and the pace of the edit.

Aside from its obvious aesthetic appeal, the choice to shoot in black and white is clever and considered. Along with the art direction it complements the duality of the subject matter: good vs evil, dark vs light, etc. The white of Spoek’s wardrobe against the black of the tombstones and the darkness of the walls, the white powder and paint against the children’s skin, the black and white of the reflection in the puddle, the black paint on Spoek’s white powdered face and outfit. Even the negative flash frames don’t feel out of place.

I love how the lyrics about losing control are linked to the religious symbolism. Spoek’s pious control-freak character, with megaphone in hand, is reflected in his stiff colonial wardrobe and stiff dance moves, and this is beautifully contrasted by the kids’ crazy loss of control. The kids’ movements have these undertones of religious fanaticism (exorcism, baptism, fervor, speaking in tongues) and it’s amazing how this sort of takes the place of gratuitous music video dancing. I love how their rebellion eventually overcomes the religious institutionalism represented by Spoek.

The edit is crazily good. But even so, there isn’t one element of the filmmaking that overshadows another. It’s all so well integrated, and it feels slick but at the same time real and unpretentious. After all this time, it hasn’t dated, which is testament to really great filmmaking.

The fact that Control was produced with very little budget did not even cross my mind. In fact, using locations for exactly what they are, and the simplicity of the art direction only add to the bold authenticity and pervasive mood of the visuals.

When you’re working on a project where there is excitement and inspiration, there is a flow that just allows things to work, and there is a magic in that that no amount of planning can capture. It’s so special when that happens; it feels authentic and from the heart; and that’s how this video feels to me.

So although the track is about loss of control, the filmmaking shows enormous restraint and thought behind all the elements, creating a very beautiful, intelligent and evocative piece of work. I LOVE IT SO MUCH!


Rozanne Rocha-Gray recently co-founded Romance with producer Helena Woodfine and directors Terence Neale and Greg Gray .

They're off to a great start, with Terence winning the only Grand Prix at Ciclope Africa for his #AboveTheNoise Beats by Dre commercial. 

Rozanne produced Skrillex Ragga Bomb, chosen by Osborne Macharia as his favourite African music video, as well as many of our favourite ads, from the Cannes Lions Grand Prix winning adidas Originals Original Is Never Finished campaign to Chicken Licken Orphanage and The Great Escape


:: 1st Prize, Non-EU music videos, Young Director Awards, 2011
:: Wood Pencil: Cinematography, D&AD Awards, 2012
:: Gold, Loerie Awards, 2011
:: Vimeo Staff Pick
:: As seen on Dazed


:: Directed & shot by: Pieter Hugo & Michael Cleary
:: Editor: Richard Starkey
:: Post production company: Priest
:: Producer: Jon Day, Orange Films
:: Production Designer : Mike Berg, Hyper Art
:: Styling: Richard de Jager
:: Dancers: Happy Feet