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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Rap Project politics

It certainly was no surprise to have the rap artists that appeared in the Rap Project documentary in attendance at the ReelWorld Film Festival premiere. But I was surprised when a local politician, City Councillor Michael Thompson said we would come. You see, I interviewed (or should I say ambushed) a few prominent politicians for their opinions on the rap-violence debate. I figured politicians would have no trouble implying (or just outright saying) that rap music does have some direct influence on the gun crime. Sure enough, they didn't disappoint. When city councillor Michael Thompson last year suggest randomly targeting young blacks for gun searches, it set off a firestorm of criticism against him. I figured that this story point should work its way in my doc. One could say the Councillor Thompson doesn't necessarily come off too good in my doc (at least too an audience of rap artists and fans.) So while I thought it was cool that Councillor Thompson would attend the premiere. I have to admit I was a bit nervous how he would react to his scene. In the end, Councillor Thompson was really cool and liked the doc and congratulated me several times (I think a few parts even enlightned him.) When I asked him how he felt about how I edited him -- he reminded me that he was an elected public official and completely understood that he too can be a media target. I got to give big props to Councillor Thompson for attending the premiere (two other politicians not only didn't attend, they didn't even write me back.) As I have come to know Councillor Thompson better and see what he has been doing to understand the gun problem in Toronto (including being a key figure in bringing Rev. Rivers to Toronto) I am beginning to believe he may be one of the better guys in elected office.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It's done.

We finally finished The Toronto Rap Project doc today. The final sound mixing was complete and I finally feel confident that we're going to have a pretty cool doc screening at ReelWorld this week (ok, I admit.. I may not be the most objectionable person to ask.) But ask any cats that personally know me and they would say I can be a pretty critical mofo on myself. So if I'm feeling good about the doc - that's a pretty good sign right there. Is it a perfect doc? fuck no. But considering it went from idea to finished cut in about four months, I'm really happy with it. Like I've been saying... if you laugh a few times during viewing the doc, groove to a cool beat or two, and think about a complex issue in proper context, then we did our job. And I think the doc accomplishes that. But I guess the final test will be at the ReelWorld screenings this week. I certainly do wonder... How will an audience react? I'll be sure to blog about it in the coming days. I would also like to add here it's been great to hear the positive reactions we've gotten to the video we've been posting on-line. Over 3,000 computers have downloaded the different preview trailers and I've really felt some love about the work. Has every email I've received been positive? obviously not. So I want to clear up one common thing I've heard from a peep or two. The Toronto Rap Project principally features rappers and stories from a few specific areas of Toronto. Jane-Finch, Cataraqui Park in Scarborough, and the downtown core. I am well aware that dope rappers from other challenged areas of the t-dot exist and we would have loved to travel all around Toronto and get more stories. But the reality of making this doc just didn't support this. You just can't get to everybody and everywhere. There just wasn't the time and budget. I know great talent exists in Regent Park, Brampton, Rexdale, and many other hoods' of Toronto. Could I have featured more rappers throughout the doc? Probably. But my gut feelings when crafting documentaries has always been it's better to tell one or two stories very well then try to feature a whole bunch of people in random soundbytes. It just doesn't have the same impact. I hope when you get a chance to see The Toronto Rap Project you will agree. I will also add here that it wasn't that we didn't try to interview rappers in other neighborhoods. We met with a few top T-dot emcees that probably anybody reading this blog would have heard of (and I am personally a fan of.) But for various reasons we just couldn't get to a point where an interview could occur. I certainly understand the few groups that declined to be involved with the rap project. Shit, if I saw these white dudes from the burbs come into my neightborhood with camera's blazing trying to interview me (especially before anybody had heard of this doc) I'm pretty sure I would tell me to fuck-off too. But you know what they say... there's always the sequel.