The SRK are a group of film / book producers known for amongst other things, 2 excellent Sticker Bomb books, Well Deep, a documentary celebrating 10 years of Big Dada (2007) and various productions related to Asian art and music.
A few years ago, they asked me if I wanted to submit some photos for a documentary about dubstep that they were making. For reasons unknown to me now, I declined, but despite this have continued to keep up to track with The SRK via Flickr and most recently Twitter where their PR man Kash has been tweeting about the now finished documentary, titled Bassweight.
Whilst waiting for the documentary to appear on my doormat, I’ve been excitedly watching the trailer for the film (above) and picking the brain of its director Suridh Hassan (aka Shaz) about what the SRK have been up to and such concerns as the creative process in today’s world. Thus, continuing D.O.T.S ongoing and natural curiosity with the fusion of vision and sound, it made perfect sense to send he and Ryo Sananda, Bassweight‘s producer, a Q&A ahead of its release on 10 Nov 2010.
Who are the SRK?
Suridh Hassan – We’re a bit of all things really – a bunch of people who make films, who make books and trying to keep the highest standard we can.
How would you describe the Bassweight film in your own words?
SH – A simple little snapshot of a music scene that was opening up to the wider world
Ryo Sananda- ….err… can’t describe it better than that I’m afraid!
What motivated you to make the film?
SH – Having gone to nights quite early on and really getting a taste of something, I felt that having missed the rise of other hugely influential UK musics like Jungle, I was at a stage where I could bring something myself and try and do it with the same energy I felt in the scene.
RS – Having experienced the buzz at FWD and DMZ it was a no-brainer for us. It was a great opportunity to raise our level of film production too and I could tell we were documenting something special.
How did you go about it? Where and where did you begin?
SH – Firstly catching the vibe and then using the internet. Goth Trad was a real good friend of ours and he was starting to get noticed 2006, he helped us with a lot of things, footage in Japan, getting us in touch with people and also good old myspace (does that still happen?)
RS – Going to nights and understanding the scene to figure out where the stories were, using myspace, visiting Croydon..
The Guardian recently commented that it’s very much a documentary about the future of dubstep, rather than one looks solely at it’s past. Considering that it’s been in progress for a number of years, how did you achieve this?
SH – It was just being there and getting caught up in it…going out, travelling, talking, asking, learning. Because we were fans and we were documentary makers we wanted to get a taste of a scene at a time and we did that by choosing our moments..
RS – The film certainly wasn’t made to be a retrospect but I’m not sure whether the film looks at the future of Dubstep either. We were just documenting as things were happening around us. If you ask most people who are in it I think they will tell you how old the footage is! And that just shows how quickly the scene has evolved.
What if anything about the music and the scene changed between starting and finishing shooting the documentary and how did you address or keep up with these changes?
SH – I remember towards the end of shooting – late 07/early 08, I was starting to hear about Magnetic Man being the next Skream, Benga, Artwork project..part of me thinks if we had the budget we could’ve continued filming them till now! I have to say it was also starting to feel like it was getting more international while we were filming it; the first deep medi night in Amsterdam, Mala was playing a lot in Japan, Kode9 and The Bug and of course Skream were also getting out there…
RS – Yeah, I think nearing the end of our shoot people were really starting to get press coverage. Other big name musicians were noticing Dubstep and names like Rusko became massive and “Dubstep” was suddenly all over the magazines.. But personally I’m satisfied with the film covering the scene growing up to that point and not beyond, because I think that’s where the magic was.
What production techniques and equipment did you use?
SH – That’s our secret!! Anything from super8mm film to mobile phones, to mad grading, to low quality cameras to higher quality cameras – our vibe is generally mix and mash styles to try and create the films own energy and aesthetic – iloobia one of closest team members plays a real crucial part in helping bring a style and vibe to a film..he’s always gotta be mentioned!
Is there anything you’d do differently?
SH – 100% for sure no question..cut some of the interviews down..try and incorporate FWD; Sarah Souljah and Geeneus – but we asked and they weren’t keen, which was understandable at the time >> we asked a certain Georgina Cook for photographs but we got declined 😉 I wish we had the time to get Artwork in there – he was up for it and so were we, but it was just so late in the day to figure out how to weave in another interview. We also got a track from Burial, but again it was so late..in fact two days before we finished editing, so recutting a sequence takes so long, specially when its our little budget and time and we needed to get more jobs in to pay our own bills!!
RS – Yes, pretty much all of the above. But then you can’t film everything and interview everyone. Especially in a small scene where people are naturally skeptical about outsiders coming to film, sometimes it was hard-work convincing people that we really meant to make a good piece of work and not some YouTube nonsense. That’s just the way it is with films though and ultimately I am happy with what we ended up with.
How are you finding the promotion and distribution of the film ? Is it proving easy or difficult to get it seen?
SH – A good friend is helping us promote the film and people seem really keen to see it – from my point of view the most difficult thing has literally paying for stuff – we’re a small business and Bassweight has been completely self funded from beginning to end…hence why it has also taken time to come out..so for anyone out there, we haven’t been taking the piss – it’s just taken time!
RS – We’ve been having good responses so far. It’s great to get emails from people literally from all corners of the world asking when the DVD is coming out!
What inspires the SRK? Did any other documentaries inform this one?
SH – For me its always about something that is different and not just about the UK – even with Bassweight we had to show that this was exploding at an independent level but also globally. I couldn’t say other films have informed this too much – I can name certain people but specific documentaries didn’t really lead us..
RS – It’s great fun to be spontaneous and throwing yourself into a scene and documenting it. Whether it be graffiti in Indonesia, following the story of a young footballer from Cameroon or an underground music scene in London. The international angle is also important to us. I think a lot of people get too London centric and it’s important to know there’s a whole world out there.
Future of The SRK? What’s coming up? What would you like to do if you could?
SK- We’re about to start working on another stickerbook and an illustration book for our publishers Laurence King. We’ve got one mini documentary job in for the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. What I’d like to do is to get working on two films – one large feature documentary in Cambodia or central Asia and I’d love to work on our first fiction film – whatever that is!