Pop Lock 'n Roll, a local dance film about a young man from a poor neighbourhood, is set for release in cinemas today.
The movie tells the story of Raps, an ambitious street style, hip hop dancer from a poor neighbourhood who believes money is everything.
He gets a lucky break and rises as a professional entertainer, but when he falls in love with the beautiful Brazilian wife of the gangster-come-producer responsible for his career, he’ll have to risk career and life to find true happiness.
Written and directed by Ziggy Hofmeyr, the film stars Isidingo’s Maurice Paige, Yasirah Bhelz and Tarryn Alberts.
“I had an idea for a hip hop musical, but I knew that it couldn’t just be a musical because the idea itself was very niche. No one would make money from it so I had to develop the idea into something more. So that’s when my research started,” said Hofmeyr.
Hofmeyr started researching the local dance scene, first finding out if there were dancers who have the high level of dance standard he was looking for and then finding out what their personal stories were.
“Much of the script is based on our research about the dancers.
“From our interviews we used some of the themes we got from them, one being the struggle of becoming a commercial dancer, so to an extent, the movie’s story is based on real life experiences and we wanted to stay true to that,” he said.
Maurice Paige and Yasirah Bhelz. Picture: Facebook
“Raps grew up and lives in Westbury in Joburg, so he has a thick skin because of where he is from. He is very strong-willed but at times he is very arrogant and that gets him into trouble.
Dancing has been something that has always been a part of him and all he wants is to be a successful commercial dancer; he wants to take his son out of the ’hood and give him a better life, but he juggles two worlds so it proves difficult,” said Hofmeyr.
On working with Paige, Hofmeyr said it was a no-brainer. “As soon as I saw his audition I knew that he was the perfect person to play Raps. He is also like Raps in that he is very strong-willed so things have to make sense to him and that’s great to have in a actor. It was obviously also great that he is a dancer too, so it worked out perfectly.”
The film, which was shot on location in Westbury and central Joburg, took five years to make.
“The process started in 2012, with the research and then the writing. After putting together our first draft and submitting the script to the National Film and Video Foundation, we then needed to develop it further. Once we did that, we were happy with what we had and by 2015 we had raised the money for the film and then production began,” he said.
Apart from the financial challenges, Hofmeyr said the biggest challenge was casting.
“This isn’t a normal movie where the performer comes on set, gets into character and delivers their lines. We needed a dancer who could act or an actor who could dance for the majority of our characters so finding that was difficult. It’s a clichéd message but it’s also a very timeless message, a message of perseverance. Many things in life are not going to be easy but you have to fight and persevere for the things you want.
“To an extent the story in this movie mirrors my own personal story. Making a movie is not easy, getting funding and putting the funding together is no easy task, but I kept at it and have an end product,” he said.