Alongside Lady Gaga’s Superbowl show, that adorable toddler who gatecrashed her dad’s Very Serious BBC interview and ‘Ping-Pong Trick Shots 3’, YouTube belonged to Rapman in 2017. With his three-part internet gang drama ‘Shiro’s Story’, the south-east Londoner pretty much reinvented urban filmmaking, shooting guerilla-style and often permitless, and stitching the footage into 14-minute episodes that debuted online. Instead of exposition, he threw in raps: filling gaps in its story of two estranged mates with punchy rhymes like a whole new kind of Greek chorus. The result? 20 million views and Hollywood’s attention.
Fast forward a couple of years, and he’s making his filmmaking debut proper with ‘Blue Story’ this week. Set mainly in Deptford and Peckham and tackling the bloody – and ongoing – postcode wars, it’s a cautionary tale about four mates from opposing sides of a gang war. There ares guns and knives but like ‘Shiro’s Story’, it’s far from sensational. ‘I want to show how an innocent kid picks up a knife,’ says Rapman, ‘and I want a gang member to leave the cinema and think: Why am I doing this?’
Watch an exclusive clip from ‘Blue Story’:
Otherwise known as Andrew Onwubolu, Rapman calls it his version of film school: ‘“Shiro’s Story” was my early years; “Blue Story” is like my dissertation and my final exam.’ He’s buzzed to be making the leap from iPhone to multiplex and is hopeful his audience goes with him. ‘[It’s a big leap] to go from doing something on YouTube to something where you need to get people to leave the house and pay money. It’s the silver screen, bro!’
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