Was it a tight brief or completely open?
The only brief was make it “dark” and “dancey”. I’ve been inspired by the trolley surfers for a long time, and I’ve also always wanted to shoot an urban battle.
After hearing the track these two ideas started merging in my head. The rawness and power of the track also set the tone for the dance scenes, which I wanted to be just as raw and powerful, but with a strong South African influence.
You’re used to shooting commercials – and a few Die Antwoord videos which we love – and this film for Skrillex looks like a mammoth production. Was it a big budget?
The budget was big by South African music video standards, but tiny for a massive production like Ragga Bomb. We got a lot of support from our suppliers, cast and crew. Many people were excited about the project and wanted to help out.
Where did you find the cast of hundreds and all the characters?
There were 60 cast members in total. The only professional actor was Thulani, the leader of the gang in black. The rest of the cast was a mixture of dance crews, skateboarders, free-runners, kids from the neighbourhood and actual trolley surfers.
Love the trolley surfing – invented or real?
The trolley surfers are completely real and absolutely amazing. They make a living in Johannesburg by recycling the city’s trash. They use their trollies to transport massive bags of recyclable material, and really do ride them through the city streets. They are out before sunrise every morning and work harder than anyone in the city.
What was the process in creating the narrative, and did a lot of the story come together in the edit?
I’m not comfortable until I have some sort of story to tell, so the structure of the narrative was definitely in place before we shot. There are key moments in the story that also had to correspond with certain points in the track. The edit actually became about making the visuals work to the track rather than focussing too much on a linear story.
Certainly doesn’t look it but was it a straight forward shoot?
To see more of Terence’s work, visit https://www.eggfilms.tv/directors/terence-neale/.