LAB RAPS

How Tarantino helped shape the new in­die rap hit

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN

THERE’S AL­WAYS TALK of ‘Sun­dance break­outs’, but a whole lot less about the films that break in to Utah’s high-al­ti­tude in­die haven. Geremy Jasper, the de­but writer-di­rec­tor of Patti

Cake$, wants to set that straight. He cred­its his time at Sun­dance’s Lab Pro­gram in 2014 with carv­ing his hazy early ideas into the rap un­der­dog tale that even­tu­ally sold at the fes­ti­val for $9.5 mil­lion. “It makes you dig into your­self and tell your story,” he notes of the fin­ish­ing school that also helped birth Beasts Of The South­ern

Wild, Hard Eight and Reser­voir Dogs. “I’m not a film school guy, so this was all new to me.”

Pay­ing those ben­e­fits for­ward, Quentin Tarantino was one of the New Jersey film­maker’s screen­writ­ing tu­tors. “He was very en­thu­si­as­tic about the first half of the script, but he asked me if the sec­ond half was just one gi­ant dream se­quence,” laughs Jasper. “He told me I had a lot of work to do on it, but that only I could make this movie. That meant the world to me.” His other ad­vi­sor, Patty Jenk­ins, was no slouch ei­ther. “[She] is just an in­cred­i­bly cool hu­man be­ing,” he en­thuses. “I re­mem­ber drink­ing a lot of Bloody Marys with her.”

Grad­u­ally, over ten it­er­a­tions and two years, his “shitty” early drafts gave way to some­thing bat­tle-ready. Au­then­tic­ity was key. While Patti

Cake$ sees as­pir­ing rap­per Pa­tri­cia Dom­browski (Aussie break-out star Danielle Mac­don­ald), try­ing to make it from her New Jersey bed­room to the big leagues, it’s from Jasper’s own Jersey bed­room that the char­ac­ter emerged. “It’s in­ter­est­ing — my mother brought me bags full of note­books a few weeks ago, and they were full of lyrics or bad po­etry from back when I was tend­ing bars or work­ing in cater­ing,” he says. “They were all about, ‘How do I get out of here and how do I make mu­sic?’ That’s the core of what the film taps into.”

Fi­nally screen-ready, Patti Cake$ shot over 28 adren­a­line-fu­elled days around the gritty neigh­bour­hoods Jasper grew up in. The re­sult is a free­wheel­ing rap fairy tale, though Jasper is mod­est in the face of com­par­isons to a cer­tain rap clas­sic. “It’s the Cit­i­zen Kane of rap movies,” he says of 8 Mile. “For a while we were call­ing [our film] ‘8½ Mile’,” he jokes, “as it has more of a sur­real, fan­tas­ti­cal qual­ity.” Well, his old Sun­dance tu­tor will surely for­give him the odd dream se­quence. PATTI CAKE$ IS IN CINEMAS FROM 1 SEPTEM­BER

De­ter­mined rap­per Patti (Danielle Mac­don­ald). Mid­dle: Patti with MC Jheri (Sid­dharth Dhanan­jay). Be­low: Patti loses her­self in the mu­sic.

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