I’ve known Doc since around 2001. As a young photographer I was making a book about the main players in the up-and-coming UK hip hop scene. Doc was one of the best rappers in the scene in a crew called Poisonous Poets and we became mates and he performed at the launch party of my website in 2005.
When he made the move into TV writing and stand-up we stayed in touch and we often talked about my ambitions to direct. Recently we met up to chat about him helping me with my world graffiti documentary and he mentioned he had two ideas he wanted to shoot – the first was a pitch film for a TV series idea he was pitching to Sky TV and the second was an adaptation of one of the tracks in his stand-up routine. He had a director that was supposed to shoot both but he had just been commissioned on a TV series and wasn’t available so I jumped on it.
We only had a small budget but I came up with a way to shoot both things back to back in Cardiff then London. There was always a training on the beach scene and the DoP and crew I usually work with are based in Cardiff so it made sense to go there. Plus we managed to find a mansion to shoot in for the other script outside Cardiff.
He already had the track made so it was up to us to flesh it out. I always envisioned a really serious, epic beginning then a pivotal moment when we find out the guys a bit of a dick. I came up with the idea of him doing the crane from Karate Kid – I just always think of it as being one of the most iconic cheesy moments in film and it just worked great for this.
I always envisioned this “bullet time” epic moment when he first meets the gang. We didn’t have much of a budget but my production team managed to get a great deal on a Red Epic and Stedicam so we shot it with the Steadicam guy running full pelt round Doc at 120 fps to get the effect. Incredibly we got it first take!
I had these guys from a gym in Dalston I’ve been shooting for a while and I’d been dying to get them on film. This one guy Lionel has the most incredible presence – also the most inappropriate name ever! They were just perfect. Then Doc brought in this guy Javone Prince who’s the lead in Channel 4’s PhoneShop to cameo as the mugger.
The night shoot was challenging – I decided to shoot in an estate in Dalston I’d used as location before. It was cut off from the main road and people in an estate don’t’ tend to get too involved with what you’re doing and leave you alone. Was a little tricky to talk the Steadicam operator and Red-cam owner to shoot there till 4am but everything was cool. It helps when you’ve got a man-mountain like Lionel with you.
I found it really liberating to do a comedy – all my work to date has been so tied up in politics and being sensitive to various issues – it was a breath of fresh air to do and it really came naturally.
I think all those years of watching comedy you just subconsciously learn how to do it. I’m also hugely lucky to have Doc’s ideas to play with – this guy’s a huge talent and will be a household name this time next year.
It was also great to realise you can make a political statement and still be funny. I think this video says a lot about the state of the rap industry right now – you can only get by in the industry if you’re blatantly commercial or you’re a “bad man”.
Doc Brown, Balls
Written and performed by Doc Brown for Bust-a-Gut Productions
Directed by Josh Cole
Produced by Chris and Keiron McGaughey @ Like an Egg Productions
Edited by David Stevens @ The Assembly Rooms
Telecine: Ben Rogers @ Glassworks
DoP: Luke Jacobs
Steadicam Op: Matt Allsop
Lighting: Mark Holownia
Red Epic tech / focus puller: Keefa Chan
Make up: Sadie Thorne
Mugger: Javone Prince
Gang members: Lionel Folkes and Romeil Taylor
Trainer/ drunk: Laurence Allan
Girlfriend: Kaity Cloke