05 Jul Creative Pick!: 5 Questions for Neil Drumming (DC HHTF Edition)
The DC Hip Hop Theatre Festival takes place July 7-July 14 this year and we figured what better way to show our support than tap a few of the festival’s featured Creatives in our 5 Questions series. Neil Drumming is a filmmaker, journalist, and pop culture critic. He is a former staff writer and editor at Entertainment Weekly and his work has appeared in numerous publications including Wired, The Washington Post, Vibe, Rolling Stone, Essence and Vanity Fair. His debut film, BIG WORDS already selected for several festivals, will be featured as part of this year’s festival. The film stars Dorian Missick, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Darien Sills-Evans, Yaya Alafia, Jean Grae and Zachary Booth. The story takes place in Brooklyn, 2008 on the night of Obama’s history-making election as three friends, once members of a promising hip-hop group, now in their late 30’s, struggle with regret, disappointment and change. Check out Neil’s answers to Kat’s inquiries.
Risikat Okedeyi: What was the inspiration for your new film BIG WORDS?
Neil Drumming: So many things. I’d spent a lot of time as an entertainment journalist, writing for publications as diverse as The Washington Post, Vibe and Entertainment Weekly. But I really got my start writing about music, specifically hip-hop. I interviewed a lot of rappers and the people around them. BIG WORDS is sort of an amalgam and an abstraction of stories and ideas that I heard (and some that I experienced) as both a fan and, occasionally, a participant.
RO: How did you go about casting for the project?
ND: I can’t remember precisely, but I think I first contacted Dorian Missick through Facebook. I believe I sent him the script cold. He read it, then we have a friend in common who introduced us in LA. Gbenga, I’d known for a few years; we met at a party at Sundance and then reconnected back home in Brooklyn. Jean Grae is my homegirl. For everyone else, we went through my wonderfully talented casting director Lois Drabkin.
RO: How does Hip Hop as a culture present itself in how the characters interact?
ND: Well, there’s not a lot of rapping in the movie — basically none. So hip-hop presents itself more in some of the characters’ behaviors, mannerisms, the way they walk and talk and treat each other as men and women. Mostly, it’s in the way some of the characters have carried hip-hop with them into their adulthood — for better or for worse.
RO: What was the most rewarding experience of the production?
ND: Getting to work with amazing, smart actors. Also, having an intelligent crew behind me to support me and make my work shine.
RO: What do you hope people walk away with after viewing the film?
ND: I want people to enjoy it. I’d like it if the audience felt moved to talk about what they saw for days, even weeks after walking out of the theater! But the film is not a vehicle for any particular agenda. I hope that those who enjoy the movie realize that the only way to see more projects like this is to actively support them as they arise.
Neil’s film BIG WORDS will be shown as part of the year’s DC Hip Hop Theatre Festival on Thursday, July 11 at 7:30pm at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Family Theater). Click here for more information. For more on Neil, follow him on Twitter.
Check out the trailer for BIG WORDS: