Imagine travelling by train through the Moordenaars Karoo. The late afternoon sun throws halos around each bossie for as far as you can see, and you can see forever. Nothing moves. The rhythmic clatter suddenly surges as another train streaks past in the opposite direction. Windows passing windows. Flashing and flickering, framing one intimate scene after the other. An old man eating a sandwich. A mother comforting her crying baby. Two young people kissing. Someone looks back at you and smiles. Then the calm is restored as swiftly as it was disturbed, as the two trains pass each other.

We love telling stories. We do it resourcefully and with gusto – hands-on from brief to delivery – specialising in Feature Films, Drama Series, Commercials, Documentaries and Branded Content.

Passing Trains is an award-winning boutique Film Production Company based in Cape Town, South Africa. Writer / producer / director Etienne de Villiers is the founding member, with many years’ television production and film experience, collaborating with a core group of skillful freelance producers, directors, and crew for selected projects. Our years of experience, creativity, and ingenuity make Passing Trains a great partner.

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etienne de villiers

Writer / Performance Director / Producer

After moving away from successfully writing, producing and directing documentaries and drama series for many years, to immerse himself in commercials, Etienne is now getting back to his roots, once more writing and developing long form productions for film and television.

During his commercial years, Etienne directed commercials for some of South Africa’s most loved and iconic brands including Radio Sonder Grense, Vodacom, Cadbury, Vicks, Spar, Pampers, Klipdrift, Ariel, Isuzu, Chevrolet, ProNutro, Big Korn Bites, Spur, Pep, Cash Crusaders, Futurelife and Steri Stumpie.

His work has won many awards, but the most rewarding for Etienne and his clients are how well liked his work has been by viewers and consumers. Kantar’s “Best Liked Ads” Survey still finds his Friendly Frikkie – Met Eish one of the “Best Liked” ads in the history of South African television (it is one in a series of many Klipdrift commercials directed by Etienne and produced by Passing Trains).

Etienne’s imaginative attention to detail, combined with his strong storytelling and performance directing abilities, evident in his commercials, was already noticeable in his earlier dramatic work.

In 1998, The Mail & Guardian had this to say about Deafening Silence, a four-part mini-series written, produced and directed by Etienne:

Arguably the best political drama we’ve seen since the censors backed off has been “Deafening Silence”, last year’s extraordinary adaptation from John Miles’s “Kroniek uit die Doofpot”, which not only revealed a fascinating human story of abuse and discrimination but also featured the best cast yet, led by our brightest talents Vusi Kunene and Nthathi Moshesh. Deafening Silence achieved good ratings, too, despite its seriousness.

Whether in the tension and drama of Etienne’s earlier work, or the satirical and humorous twists in his commercials, he traverses the local internal and external landscape with ease, showing a compassionate understanding and vision of society.


  • Cash Crusaders – Baby Cash Crusaders - Baby
  • S.A. Rugby “Currie Cup” S.A. Rugby - Currie Cup
  • Isuzu “Mandume” Isuzu - Mandume
  • Spur “Magician” Spur - Magician
  • SPUR “Rock On” SPUR - Rock On
  • Cash Crusaders – Pothole Cash Crusaders - Pothole
  • Spur – Hunga Busta Spur - Hunga Busta
  • Klipdrift “Friendly Frikkie” Klipdrift - Friendly Frikkie
  • Masidlale “No Gloves” Masidlale - No Gloves
  • Spur “Second to None” Spur - Second to None
  • SPUR “Spelling Bee” SPUR - Spelling Bee
  • Passing Trains “Montage” Passing Trains - Montage


Etienne De Villiers
082 920 6984