This documentary feature pulls back the curtain on the world of 'working class' rappers. The film spotlights independent artists struggling to find a balance between making a living and pursuing their art alongside the never-ending saga of age and relevance. Weaved together through a series of 30 plus interviews that are devoid of the ego so common in the business of music, especially hip-hop, the film traverses the country (USA) to explore the myths and misconceptions of life as a full-time rapper. Adult Rappers. A documentary stuck on the realness.
10 questions with Adult Rappers director, Paul Iannacchino, Jr. at the half-way mark.
Sunday, February 28th, 2016
1Hi Paul! Could you tell me, what was the initial seed that made you want to make Adult Rappers? The initial spark for the idea was the result of ongoing conversations with friends of mine, some of whom used to list "rapper, producer or DJ" as their occupation - some of whom still find themselves grinding away as independent artists today. As I myself approached 40 and saw my middling hip-hop career in the rear view, and talking to some of my friends from this time in my life, we noticed a void in the hip-hop timeline that really spoke to the myths and misconceptions of what it takes to pursue your art full time.
2This film is about adult rappers but I think it's applicable to any aging artist. A 20 year old rapper is cool, a 45 year old rapper isn't. Do you think it's the same for people who want to be actors, filmmakers, authors, painters etc? I totally agree. I have said many times this isn't a "hip-hop documentary", it's a documentary that spotlights independent artists struggling to find a balance between making a living and pursuing their art alongside the never-ending saga of age and relevance, the artists in our story just happen to be musicians. The reason I think our story resonates beyond the hip-hop world is it's relatable to actors, writers, painters, etc - it's their story too - just told in a hip-hop package.
3How did you find so many rappers willing to talk about this? Are you involved in the rap scene? Yes, I was. When I moved to NYC in the 90's it was with the goal of having a record on the wall at Fat Beats and pursuing music as a career. As J Zone says so poignantly in the film, when your hobby becomes your job - it's time to find a new hobby. I have long since moved on from that world but started my journey of making this film by reaching out to friends from that time in my life who were willing to talk about their own stories. We worked out in concentric rap circles from there to find others we hoped would be down to talk and share their version of the Adult Rappers story as well. Lucky for us, lots of heads did!
4How long did you shoot this doc and how did you know when you were finally done shooting? I had already been shooting interviews for a year when we did our Kickstarter, so we were shooting for a little over 2 years. If I had my way, I'd still be shooting! I really love the art of the interview, hearing and sharing these stories first hand was and is my favorite part of producing this film. I think I began to drive my editor crazy because I just keep reaching out to people and shooting interviews that would add to the film. Even if it was only one line here or there, I felt like there was always a little more we could uncover. It really is a conversation piece, so why not add another point of view to the story, right? At some point we had to stop the interviews and start putting them into the timeline. Even once we did start post, I didn't stop the interviews until I absolutely had to.
5What's the biggest thing you learned from making this film? Don't force it. Go where the story takes you. That old cliche is true "the journey is the story". I truly believe that. It's going to be what it wants to be and you have to embrace the unknown and see where you end up. I've always subscribed to the notion that you have to have an idea of what you're doing, but be sure it's a vague one.
6What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? Oh man. I don't know. Narratively, probably Goodfellas. I was still in High School when that came out and I was really obsessed with that story and the way Scorsese told it for years to come. I feel like that's when I started paying attention to filmmaking, not just watching movies From a documentary standpoint I think it was probably Style Wars. Because, Style Wars.
7Can you share a war story from the shoot? So many war stories. Let's just say I won't soon forget R.A. The Rugged Man's apartment. That dude is a true original.
8Was there a specific interview or a moment that exceeded your expectations? Almost all of them, honestly. Even the people I interviewed that I know well surprised me with their honesty and willingness to share. It's just something we're led to believe rappers don't do - it's so against type in an art form that's origins are about bragging and boasting.
Esoteric is the one that will always stick with me because he was so down to earth, honest and open - and I love that his son couldn't help but keep poking his head out to see what the hell these film guys were doing talking to his Dad. If you watch those interviews closely you can see his son on the porch. That says it all to me. I'm a Dad, a husband, a rapper...and I'm embarrassed my lawn's not cut. It's one of my all time favorite moments.
9I laughed at the beginning because I also think that saying you're a "filmmaker" is also something people think is a joke because everyone seems to be a filmmaker these days. Do you tell people you're a filmmaker? What do you tell people you do? Absolutely! So true. No, I never say filmmaker. I make my living in commercials, so I usually say that. I tell people I direct commercials. If they ask specifically if it's anything they would have seen and I can point to something familiar that's usually enough. Saying "filmmaker" and pointing to a short film or a documentary about rappers is a rabbit hole I try to avoid, ironically, just like the guys in the beginning of the film.
10What's next? I have a couple of documentary projects I'm developing but I want to try and fund them in some part before I dive in, I don't want to crowd fund again. Like everyone on the internet I have a dream script or two as well. Do you have a rich Uncle in China that's taking pitches?
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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