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War of Words: Battle Rap in the UK

A controversial yet hilarious defence of our freedom to hurl insults at each other.

UPDATE:


We've released a personal plea to all Battle Rap fans out there. Come support your scene.

http://www.indiegogo.com/BattleRapUK?c=gallery&a=1176131

We've also released a taster clip of Mark Grist discussing his 2.5 million hit battle with teenage MC Blizzard.

http://www.indiegogo.com/BattleRapUK?c=gallery&a=1176131

We've also released the outtakes of our plea video for your amusement and to prove why we need the money to keep us behind the camera.

http://www.indiegogo.com/BattleRapUK?c=gallery&a=1176131

 

Thanks to everyone who's supported us so far. It means so much. Keep it coming.

 

The documentary: What is it?

'War of Words' is a witty, controversial & inspiring feature documentary that lifts the lid on the fast growing UK battle rap scene. We reveal the history and evolution of this unique subculture of hip hop: charting it from its origins in playgrounds and parks, through to nightclubs and competitions. From its beginnings as a battle of quick-thinking freestyle wit, through to its current incarnation as a form of well-rehearsed poetry and theatre. 

The documentary is an examination of youth in the UK today; their creativity and work ethic; their passion for language and ability to control their own destiny. It also investigates freedom of expression and respect for other cultures and lifestyles. While the language is harsh and unflinching, the “anything goes” philosophy of the battle arena results in one of the most harmonious and creative scenes in youth culture. Part sport, part theatre, battle rap is a unique soapbox for eloquent, deep thinking souls to share their creativity and worldview. While simultaneously being as offensive as possible!

In their own words we discover how battling became such a huge part of these people’s lives. How it gave them confidence, success or in some cases even saved them. We deconstruct the different styles and methods; beats vs acapella, written vs freestyle, jokes vs bars. We look at how the internet has both brought the scene closer together, yet also introduced conflict: turning the scene into a soap opera for the 21st century. 

Brighton

What do we hope to achieve?

Besides being a fascinating look into an underground movement that grows larger every year, we try to decipher where the art of battle rap stands in the world of entertainment. Is it music, comedy, theatre, or all of the above...? We will speak to experts in linguistics to understand the artistic or poetic merit, and to celebrities and comedians on whether there should be boundaries on what can and can't be said publicly.

We hope to deliver a documentary that introduces new people to this strange art, while also enlightening established fans and revealing the real world behind the public face; the work that goes into creating the events, and the challenges faced by the battlers, balancing their families and jobs with a hobby so easily misunderstood. 

We try to ascertain if the freedom of expression is something to be condemned due to its controversial content, or if it is to be applauded for bringing people of all cultures together in accepting and mocking stereotypes. We also explore what the UK has contributed to the world of battle rap and what other countries think of our scene.

We also have some fantastic perks that will help battle fans get closer to the scene and to the action than they ever could before. By becoming a part of this film you can become more actively part of the story too. From receiving exclusively designed t-shirts, to getting free entry to events, you could also end up judging an event yourself or if you are really passionate and donate a large amount we'd even hold a battle event at your house! Please help us tell our story and in doing so maybe become part of the story yourself!

 Don't Flop in Hollywood

Who are we?:

We are a producing partnership who have worked in the film and music industry for the past 15 years. You can check out our award winning work here: www.ascensionproductions.co.uk

We are just completing a feature documentary 'A Summer Hamlet' about the touring players of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. Before that we produced all 2nd Unit filming for the Sundance-winning feature 'Like Crazy' and have also this year Exec Produced a Sci Fi feature Starring Bianca Bree and featuring Jean Claude Van Damme titled 'UFO'. We have been nominated and won awards for our music videos, film trailers and short film work.

We find battle rap psychologically and ethically fascinating and we truly believe that anyone with an interest in language and freedom of speech will find the film enlightening.

 

What we've done so far:

We have spent the summer interviewing battlers, organisers, music industry veterans and celebrities to get their view on the scene, where it came from and where it is going. We have shot over 50 hours of material so far and have enough to start cutting the story together.

We've spoken to the organisers of Don't Flop and Jump Off about their own unique philosophies around battle rap. We've spoken to the original host of the earliest UK online battle Benjamin Scarrs about how the scene has changed. 'Old school' battlers such as Oshea, The Saurus and Innuendo have told us how battles have evolved and younger hotshot battlers such as Shotty Horroh, Lunar C and Blizzard describe how battling has catapulted their rap careers.

Bonafide superstars like Rizzle Kicks & Professor Green have agreed to share thoughts on their battle histories, and American battlers such as DNA and Illmaculate have given their opinions on the UK scene. 

The research and interview stage has gone incredibly well and we're now ready to film the in-depth 'fly on the wall' footage needed to tell a fuller story.

Oshea

What we need the money for:

While we have been shooting constantly over the summer and filmed some incredible interviews and captured some fantastic moments, there are still so many people to talk to, all over the country. We plan to shoot until November and still have over 100 people to interview. All filming so far has been on our credit cards because we believe so firmly on the subject matter. However we now need your help.

Beyond just the interviews there are certain key characters whom we need to shadow to capture their full story on camera. Battlers who are parents, teachers, journalists, charity workers and ex prisoners all have amazing stories to tell about why they do this. But in order to truly show how their chosen hobby affects their lives, we need to follow them in their daily routine.

We need to shoot almost constantly for the next 3 months in every corner of the country. Battlers live in Scotland, Ireland, Manchester, London... We need to pay for travel, hotels, food... As well as storage space for all the media we shoot. 

Beyond that we would like to film to the highest production standards possible. We are currently shooting on broadcast quality HD cameras.  However, battle rap is such a visually striking medium that we would love to film events using more cinematic cameras and lenses. This equipment is not cheap and we'd need close to £1000 per event to truly do them justice.

If we do manage to raise the money, fans of the battles will benefit almost immediately because we'll pass the footage on to event organisers so that they can produce slicker, more professional battle videos.

Once we finish shooting we'll have more than 150 hours of footage to edit. This will take us approximately 4 months in an edit suite to cut into a feature length film that ticks all the boxes we want to tick. In that time we need to cover our living expenses.

We also need some money for legal fees to make sure our content is all cleared and approved for any potential broadcasters.

The remaining money will be for music licenses, archive fees, potential celebrity voiceovers, etc.

 Ogmios

Why Indiegogo

Due to the controversial nature of the subject matter, we have decided to finance and produce the documentary independently. A commission from a broadcaster would most likely come with certain rules and boundaries on what can and cannot be said or portrayed. Because battle rap is all about absolute freedom of speech and expression, we feel we need to create a documentary with the same ethic: a completely bipartisan look at the scene, it's contributors and their own morals.

Crowd-sourcing is the best possible way for us to make sure that the documentary is produced by the people who want to see it and for the people who want to see it, with no outside influence.

People who donate can leave messages and suggestions as to what they want or expect from the content and we can shoot with our audience’s expectations in mind. We will not flinch away from any material if we feel it services the overall story. Crowd-sourcing is the best way for us to create this film with total integrity and independence. 

 

What happens if we raise more than our target:

The money we have asked for above is the minimum amount we need to be able to create a finished product that will be professional and compliant for TV sales. Any money we raise above the asked for amount will help to increase the production value of the film. We will be able to assist organisers in getting international battlers to come over, giving more entertainment to the fans of battles. So please keep giving, even if we do manage to raise the full amount, as we promise to pump every penny straight back into the film.

 IHOP

Other ways you can help

We really do need your help to get this project finished, but if you can't afford to donate then you can still contribute to the campaign by tweeting about us, putting the link on your facebook and hitting the like and share options below.

The more awareness we get the better our chances to really make something original. Battle fans should consider this film part of their legacy and a testament to the scene they love. Lets make it happen!


 

Team on This Campaign: