Here at The Film Guys our ears jumped gears when we first heard Mad Skab’s “Write With Me”. The clean narrative took us straight into storyboard mode. And for us, story is it – even for a music video. So we’ve had a good season working with ZuluTunes, Shruti Pictures, Kong VFX and other maverick minds crafting this music video in short-film style. And working with Mad Skab, that seasoned Boom-Bap-style hip hopper from Jo’burg’s subverted mental streets has had our synapses snapping.
The What What…
”Write With Me” is a street-level window on the fight Mad Scab has been waging with himself. And he likes a good fight. We see him in ghoulish garb badgering his somewhat bewildered school uniformed younger self. But submission to what? That’s an essential question that the video poses, but it’s not a moral tale about self improvement. The dark images and tension and fast clear lyrics put you right in a battleground. The fight is to be real: and the real fight is to keep motivated and keep alive. So, this video is not the generic “anybody’s” fight, it is Mad Scab’s own fight.
The story plays out largely in the mind of the younger self: the schoolboy who’s been lured into listening to a mysterious disc handed to him by a stranger. Still kitted out in his tie and school shirt he is drawn into a confrontational space that exposes him, the hard way, to what emcee’ing is about.
In “Write with Me” Mad Skab is essentially being brutal with himself about his own creative process, about creating the track itself. So the whole thing is operating on two levels of unrelenting self scrutiny. We love this, and feel it’s something all artists can relate to.
Mad Skab is an elusive mcee who ground his teeth among Joburg’s freestyle battle rappers. He started young and has been honing his pen-game for over 15 years. Mad Skab is produced by Dr. Bops of the ZuluTunes record label. He fuses classic Boom Bap style hip hop with modern electronic influences. His lyrics can be described as highly technical dark poetry with a distinct battle rap influence and a twist of twisted humour.
Making the Video
The scripting process was driven by Michael Jaspan (writer, director, editor) in collaboration with Gavin Pincus (cinematographer) and Mad Skab himself. Along with being a lyricist Skab is a talented visual artist and offered to put together the story boards. Once we had this image sequence in place we worked with Thiru Naidoo (screen producer) and Camilla Pontiggia (production designer), both contributing their talent out of pure passion for the project. After the storyboards were complete, we held castings through which we secured Nick Lai, the talented young actor who plays the boy in the piece.
It’s not always the case, but for this particular production it felt like everyone’s efforts gelled perfectly and moved the project forward. During the shoot we had a lot of help on set from the other ZuluTunes members, all for the love of the label and the project.
We had an unexpected partner with Kong VFX who added in their ten sense and completed the final video grade.
You be the Judge
For The Film Guys, using the short-film style for a music video was gratifying and a lot of fun. It gave Gavin Pincus scope to flex his D.O.P. muscles behind the lens, and Michael Jaspan a chance to again direct something narrative based. It has been a privilege to be able to do this video and we can only hope for more like this.
It’s truly been a labour of love and we hope you enjoy it and much as we have!
The Film Guys
Assistant director: Mad Skab
Screen production: Thiru Naidoo
Cinematography: Gavin Pincus
Production design: Camilla Pontiggia
Make-up: Cynthia Hager
Editing: Michael Jaspan
Grading: Kong VFX
Photography: Sheldon Windrim
Music Production: Dr. Bops
Lyrics: Mad Skab
Child actor: Nicholas Lai
- Camilla Pontiggia
- Tim Hooper
- Nick Hooper
- Julian Van der Heever
- Lio Mihos
Special Thanks To:
The Lai Family, Debbie Hooper and all the ZT crew and friends involved.
Contacts and Links
The Film Guys: www.filmguys.co.za
Shruti Pictures: www.shrutipictures.co.za
Music: Follow Skab’s work on Dr. Bops’ soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com/drbops