Hip Hop


Cover Art for Skip Hop doco

Skip Hop DVD

During the final years at RMIT I had been working with the same group of people for a few years and we all had a strong interest in documentary film making. I had worked as camera op on Oriel Guthrie’s Skip Hop and Cassandra Bakic’s Cut Outs, two doco’s that went on to some success, launching at MIFF and the St Kilda film festival respectively, and which are still being screen at film festivals today.

I had grown up listening to my older brothers Hip Hop CD’s and was well versed with the Beastie Boys, NWA, Cypress Hill, DJ Shadow and other American acts but at that stage the only Aussie hip hop I knew of was Mass MC’s The BBQ Song. Working on Skip Hop changed all that and whilst filming, it took me to a lot of underground gigs at the Evelyn, Laundry, St Jeromes, The 1st Floor and other Hip Hop venues around town. We filmed break dancer’s, graffiti artists and DJ’s and visited community hip hop projects around Melbourne, but it was the MC battle scene that really grabbed my attention.

Out 4 Fame, OZ vs NZ MC battle For Supremacy, 2004

In 2004 Ori and I were at work producing a pilot for a Hip Hop show that we were aiming at screening on Channel 31 and had set up an interview with Andrew Montell at Out 4 Fame magazine. It was whilst filming the interview that he mentioned the OZ vs NZ MC Battle 4 Supremacy that he was organising, which was due to start in less than a week.  Ori and I looked at each other from across the room and without saying anything, both knew that this was an opportunity worth jumping at. We left that meeting with the go ahead from Andrew to put together a proposal to film the entire competition, across 5 states and 2 countries and to produce a 2 DVD set for commercial release. Over the next 2 days we threw together a production plan, a budget and sourced all of the gear and permission needed from RMIT to take the equipment out of Victoria, the first students to be allowed to do so. To our excitement and relief the proposal was accepted, although not in time to film the Sydney Heats which were taking place just 1 day after we handed over our proposal, so we set about preparing for the rest of the state heats which were taking place next weekend. The first up were the Melbourne heats, which took place at the Evelyn Hotel, Thursday April 8th, 2004. The video below is taken from this night and it was the first live location, multicam shoot that Ori and I had organised and shot, and it was also the first and last time i ever wore a white t-shirt whilst filming on stage. Rookie mistake which you can see me making at 2:20 min in as I take over the camera from another operator for a reason I can’t remember.

That weekend we undertook and intense crash course in live multicam production as Ori and I travelled to Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane to film the state heats.  We filmed each nights battles in full with two handheld and one locked off camera, with audio recoded onto mini disk.  Before and after each round we were running around organising interviews with each contestant as part of the plan we had for the final DVD, in venues ranging from a marquee in a carpark to, at the time the largest nightclub in the southern hemisphere.

For me, it all came together at the Australian finals on May 14th, 2004 at the Hi Fi Bar, Melbourne.  Here we were able to build on our experiences on the road and apply them with access to our full filming kit, in our home town with a few extra crew.  It was also one of the best nights of MC battles I have ever experienced with the Justice vs Anecdote battle still being my favourite ever.  Justice has a talent for winning over a hostile audience and for even making the opposition laugh their asses off at him, which he does in this battle to full effect.  It was an incredible experience to witness first hand Justice’s rise through the ranks of battle MC’s before conquering the world, when in later years he became the first ever non-American to win the massive US based Scribble Jam Battle.


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To be Continued

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