He first expressed his interest in filmmaking when he was nine, shooting, editing and splicing film with a super 8mm camera. This later evolved to film production, directing, and acting, the results of which were several successful commercials, shorts and documentaries.
De Graf’s parents were active in the entertainment industry and owned a string of nightclubs and cabaret venues in South Africa. He completed his national service as a navy seal, specializing in underwater explosives and conducting sea, search and rescue missions, off the Mozambique channel. De Graf graduated from the University of Cape Town with a degree in finance. His commitment to opposing apartheid and fighting crime during South Africa’s apartheid era, drew him into a nomination contest to run for Parliament, in which he was narrowly defeated. Additionally, in the early 2000s he experienced a stint on Wall Street, as a trader in options and equities.
After emigrating from South Africa in the early 1990s, de Graf lived between New York and Israel, travelling frequently to the film capitals of the world. He has been a regular attendant of the Cannes, Venice and Berlin film festivals.