GETTING INTO THE RHYTHM
Patti Cake$ director Geremy Jasper explains the unconventional path that has taken his little indie-spirited film right into the big time
Patti Cake$ is the story of Patricia Dombrowski aka Killa P aka Patti Cake$, a white female rapper working her way through Jersey rap circles, trying to make it big.
The synopsis reads similar to a female 8 Mile, but has many of its own idiosyncrasies.
Despite being set in Jersey, the lead role of rap queen Patti Cake$ is actually played by an Australian woman, Danielle Macdonald.
After being premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Patti Cake$ was a hit with multiple distribution offers to take the film worldwide.
It’s been airing as part of the Brisbane International Film Festival and in one week will open at Reading Cinemas Harbourtown.
Director Geremy Jasper talks all things rap music, filmic influences, capturing dirty grittiness and also using an unconventional leading actress. It was hard. When you read a screenplay, I am not sure that you can really tell where it is going to go. You might read it and laugh at the jokes. I think that it is a question of tone, and the same time you don’t want it to feel schizophrenic. It was about finding the right actors to bring it to life, who could deepen it. Mamoudou [Athie], who plays Basterd, was really the missing ingredient – he doesn’t say much, but his performance really grounds you in someone real, and is well away from being a gimmick. Some people didn’t get him, and ask why Patti would fall for him, but Mamoudou brought this sexappeal to the character that wasn’t part of what I wrote. He had a Jimi Hendrix quality about him. I’m a Fellini freak, and we called the film 8½ Mile for a while – it was about how you could take the gritty, small town hip-hop and blast it through psychedelic with these dream sequences. We had a small amount of money for the O-Z dream sequences. I always had this idea of these hands coming through smoke and a voice of god, an MC from on high in this Wizard of Oz green light – that was there from the very first draft of the script. Some people wanted to get rid of it. I knew it would be this cinema-verite character study, but I wanted to be able to go into these dream sequences. In a strange way, those sequences are far more my background. The Wrestler was a key influence, it is one of my alltime favourite films. I wanted a camera following a character through their life, and I wanted just a fraction of what Aronofsky did with Mickey Rourke. I wanted a bigger than life character that had an intimacy. I didn’t see it like that, I didn’t think about it. I knew the movie I wanted to make. I love this character, and it is a character I know. I didn’t think twice about it. At the same time, I thought “this is a going to be a very small film” and I didn’t think that anyone was going to see it, apart from friends and family. There was a humble quality to it. I never thought about this movie in the grand scheme of things. You don’t think about it in the context of the greater film world. I thought of it as a Sundance film, a small indie. Patti Cake$ is showing now at the Brisbane International Film Festival and opens September 14 at Reading Cinemas Harbour Town
Aussie actress Danielle Macdonald stars in Patti Cake$, which proved a big hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.