Producer, Director, Lighting Cameraman (South Africa)

With a film background that began 25 years ago, David Forbes thrives on high-energy projects requiring creativity, speed, commitment and economy.
He has worked in more than 30 countries (21 African) on hundreds of commercials and documentaries, scores of dramas and corporates, and more than 20 feature films. He has produced two dramas and several doccies, co-directed four short films and directed a number of TV commercials and documentaries. He is also a Wits Business School graduate.
In 2008 he travelled to Ethiopia to shoot a CNN Heroes piece, and Unicef chose him to film Lucy Liu in Cote d’Ivoire, Clay Aiken in Somalia and Kenya, and Joel and Benjy Madden from the band Good Charlotte in Central African Republic. He also shot a number of commercials, and several big corporates, notably HSBC and Anglo. In 2007 he did four Unicef projects while on chemotherapy, tracking US Idol Clay Aiken in Afghanistan, and fundraisers in Swaziland, Dafur, and India. In 2006 he produced and shot a pilot film about the Manuscripts of Timbuktu and continued with his own feature doc, “The Cradock Four”.

In 2005 he worked extensively on the Wits University Origins Rock Art Museum, shooting hours of aerials. He conceptualised, produced, and directed a display for the award-winning Mohale’s Gate Museum at the Cradle of Humankind and filmed in the war zone of northern Uganda. In 2004 he directed a corporate for the Saudi Arabian CAA, directed a commercial, and shot Unicef films on Laurence Fishburne & Lucy Liu, and a doc on Helen Suzman.

In 2003, he shot a number of high profile doccies, notably CBC’s harrowing HIV-Aids doc “The Value of Life” for “The Nature of Things with David Suzuki”, South African struggle hero bio “A South African Love Story – Walter and Albertina Sisulu”, and “Winter Is July”, a short film about the murder of an anti-Apartheid activist. He directed and shot several high profile corporates and attended MIP-Doc and MIP-TV in Cannes, France to promote his projects. He won a cinematography award and was invited to join the SA Society of Cinematographers. In 2002 he shot the Aussie award-winning “AfriCan Solutions”, a 13 x 26-min doc series on technology in Africa, and a CBC doc on the World Summit on Sustainable Development. He was DOP on “S’camto Groundbreakers II”, a dramatic youth challenge, shooting 13 x 26-minute episodes in 16 days, with 17 cameras and six crews. He worked on the award-winning doc “The 12 Disciples of Nelson Mandela”, shown on POV. In 2001 he shot “Tobias’s Bodies”, a 6 x 52-min doc series on the human body presented by top paleontologist Professor Phillip Tobias, and was DOP on the first “S’camto Groundbreakers, SA’s first reality TV show. In 2000, top UK company Wall To Wall TV tapped him to film “The Elephant Whisperer”, and “The Dune People”.

His first film as DOP in 1988 won the 1989 Weekly Mail Short Film Competition, but he left for Australia, returning in 1991 after Mandela was released. Commercials he has shot won a Silver Lion at Cannes, a statue at the London International Advertising Awards, and three (local) Loeries. David knows all film, video and Hi Def formats, including the Red Camera. His aerial filming logbook is 98 hours, and he is a qualified Open Water Diver.

Clients include: Arte, Animal Planet, BBC, Brave Films (UK), CBC (Canada), Channel 4, CNN, Discovery (USA & Canada), Faction Films (UK), HBO, Hubbub (UK), ILO, Marquee Films (UK), Monkey Factual (UK), National Geographic, NHK, PBS, SABC, The Vision Corporation, Tokyo BS, Travel Channel (USA), Velocity, Wall to Wall (UK), and UNICEF.


  • HSBC Video Wall, 2008

  • Joel Madden in CAR, 2008

  • Clay Aiken in Somaliland, 2008

  • Clay Aiken in Kenya, 2008

  • Lady Manchem, 2008

  • US Fund For Unicef, 2008

  • US Fund for Unicef, 2007

  • The Talker Mohale’s Gate Museum, Maropeng, 2005

  • The Falcon Terminals: The Saudi Aviation Story , 2004

  • Khulanati, 2004

  • Secure The Future , 2003

  • SASAR, 2003

  • Nelson Mandela, 2003

  • The Cobra Club of SA, 2001

  • Kusile–A New Beginning, 1998

  • Durban 2003, 1998

  • The Mail & Guardian, 1997

  • The Wild Coast, 1997

  • Old Mutual 150 Years, 1995

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