An Irish filmmaker is seeking to raise $8000 to produce a medieval rap movie. The Quickener is described as “a fast-paced medieval drama, set during the year the Black Death struck England. It is dotted with battles of wits, moments of epiphany and flashes of otherworldly activity and yes, all the dialogue is spoken in the rhymes and rhythms of rap and performance poetry.”
The project is the brainchild of Joel Wilson, who is directing the film. He tells Medievalists.net that he has long been interested in both the Middle Ages and hip-hop culture and has been seeking a way to bring them together. “Around the globe, hip-hop has been embraced in all its current guises”, he explains”: the school ground battle, the bling, the socially conscious, the pop song interlude and yet it feels like we’re just scratching the surface of what hip-hop music can accomplish. Artists like Buck65 or Prince Paul have woven numerous hip-hop songs into lengthy narratives and hip-hop spoken word performers Polarbear or Jon Berkavitch are exceptional storytellers. And Nas and Damian Marley genuinely blazed a positive trail recently with their Distant Relatives album. There is hope.
“Rap lends itself to story-telling and I want to see more of it. I feel like there’s a growing group of British lyricists that are really exploring the depth and breadth of rhythmic narrative and are ready to try something risky and visionary. Do you want to watch just another rap narrative describing hip-hop culture, as if rap were limited to use in contemporary urban tales? Wouldn’t it be fun and mind-expanding to explore multi-racial, multi-cultural medieval England? I’m excited by the notion of transmuting 21st century styles and cadences into a different era and seeing the results.”
To create the 25-minute film, Joel is currently trying to raise $8000, which would be used to cover production costs, including location fees, camera and lighting equipment and travel expenses. They already have been able to cover the costs of props for the film and had medieval costumes flown in from a New Zealand company.
The Quickener will feature Nicole “Justice” Inniss, a British actor and rapper, who is the first female champion of the international rap freestyle competition End Of The Weak. She is joined by Nigel Forde and John Berkavitch.
Joel Wilson is also a rap writer and performer, who has released 6 albums. His filmmaking career includes directing documentaries, short films and music videos. He says, “I was around 14 when I really fell in love with all kinds of movies when our family lived in Germany. Wim Wenders’ ‘Paris Texas’ and ‘Wings of Desire’ are so inspiring and emotional and deep. I wanted to make artful stories that connected with, in fact hit people and stayed with them for days. I can honestly say that certain films have transformed my life. What an amazing thing to have the opportunity to make happen.”