Film Teasers

navigation menu


For British rapper Skepta, music was just the beginning of his creative pursuits.

Earlier this year, the multi-hyphenate released his first short film, “Tribal Mark,” in the U.K., followed by a SXSW screening and premieres in L.A. and New York last month. The short follows Mark (Jude Carmichael), a teenaged Nigerian immigrant who is adapting to life in London when he is introduced to the world of the undercover Black Secret Service. Skepta appears in the film as an older Mark, once he has taken up his anti-hero alias of Tribal Mark.

Skepta co-directed the short with Dwight Okechukwu, his partner in production company 1Plus1, and hopes that it will draw attention to important social issues surrounding non-EU immigrants, including mental health and racial prejudice.

“Being the child of immigrants, when I come across other children of immigrants from around the world, I relate to them a lot. And I see how they struggle to communicate certain things, or how the trauma’s eating away at them, you know?” Skepta tells Variety. “So I just feel like this film is a nice bit of therapy for people who think or feel like me.”

Fresh off of his Coachella performances, Skepta talked with Variety about how “Tribal Mark” came to be, working with a cast and crew made up of 90% ethnic minorities and plans for a feature-length film.

Skepta in “Tribal Mark”

How did the idea for “Tribal Mark” come to be?  

I was thinking about the trauma of immigrants and ultimately mastering the disassociation of the mind and becoming a superhero, a super intelligent being, and how I’d want to put that into a movie. For a long time, there was the “who’s going to be the Black James Bond?” story, so I just kind of put two and two together.

You’re in part of the short, but it mainly focuses on a younger version of Mark played by Jude Carmichael. What was the casting process like? 

I always knew that because it was a short, I didn’t want too much dialogue, so I wanted it to be someone who could do a lot with their eyes and get the language across with just their facial expressions. And when I saw Jude, I just thought that he was perfect for it. I think it was crazy how much Jude looked like me, too.

The film opens with a disclaimer that this is not a Skepta biopic. Why include that?

A lot of stuff that Mark goes through, I didn’t go through. It’s just fiction, so I don’t want people — especially as I’m in it and I’m an artist and young Mark looks so much like me — to look at it and think, “He’s telling his story.” People will definitely be waiting for my biopic, so I thought, “Let’s just make that clear.”

The cast and crew was made up of 90% ethnic minorities. Why was that important to you and how did you accomplish it? 

From the type of story that it was — a London Nigerian story — I think it just ended up being that way. But it was great for it to be actually Nigerian people behind the screen and on the screen, telling the story, because I feel like a lot of what happens now is stories are getting told by people who haven’t really lived it. I feel like actors should be able to act from anywhere, but when it comes to the storytelling and the directing, I think it’s great if we have people who are from these walks of life that are actually conducting the whole symphony.

The film deals with some important topics, including the mental health of immigrants. Why was it important to focus on these themes? 

Being the child of immigrants, when I come across other children of immigrants from around the world, I relate to them a lot. And I see how they struggle to communicate certain things, or how the trauma’s eating away at them, you know? And then some of them don’t have a voice to say things, so I just feel like this film is a nice bit of therapy for people who think or feel like me.

What were some of your reference points for the film?

I drew a lot of inspiration from Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers,” because I think the anti-hero is something we’re seeing today a lot and this is our take on it. We referenced “City of God.” We referenced “Andy Warhol Eats a Hamburger” there at the end. “Kids,” “Belly.”

Tell me about some of the film’s stylistic choices, like the animated sequence when they’re running from the club. 

I got that from “Natural Born Killers,” when they’re getting chased out of the prison and it goes into animation. I’ve always wanted to do that in a movie. It’s crazy how it’s my first movie and I crammed everything that I loved about cinema into this one thing. I feel like when I put that in there, it just kind of shows how we see things in our head.

There’s loads of little supernatural things packed in just to show the dual world that we live in, because when you’re an immigrant, your house smells like the food of your country, the language is being spoken and then you come out of your house and everyone’s speaking English and you’re just in England. Your brain’s split as an immigrant, so you’re just always learning how to adapt. So I was constantly trying to show that in the short. 

I heard you got some advice from your friend Idris Elba, what did he tell you? 

He’s made a couple changes and given us advice along the way. One of the things he told us to do in the short always gets a reaction in the theater, so I’m actually happy that we listened to that. 

What was it?

I can’t even tell you. There’s a specific beat, and every time everyone laughs and I’m like, “Fuck.”

How does it feel to have made your first foray into film? 

Even if you listen to my albums, I always have skits, so I feel like I’ve always had doing a movie in my mind somewhere. Even in my music videos, like “Greaze Mode,” I’m just acting because I’ve known I always really wanted to do it. I won’t say I was scared, but I’m very, very critical of myself. I’m difficult. I’m my hardest critic, but I was happy with it, man.

What can you tell me about what’s to come from the “Tribal Mark” universe?

I hope that the next thing is the feature film. I want to do the first one, and then I want to step back so I can let another Black actor come and do it. We would love to have a fast forward of Tribal Mark that goes into the future of his life, and it’s Denzel Washington. I’m shouting out to Denzel. 



Source link