Cannes 2012: Hip-Hop Artist Plan B Raps Lyrical About Directorial Debut

Ben Drew - P 2012
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Film London Microwave unveils the next three filmmakers to benefit from funding that brought Drew's "iLL MANORS" to the big screen.

Ben Drew, already a big selling hip hop artist in his native U.K. under the name Plan B, is tasting life as a filmmaker and up-and-coming movie star.

Drew landed in Cannes to a whirlwind of press to support his movie directorial debut iLL MANORS, for which he wrote the screenplay and music. The movie is currently playing to buyers in the Marche du Film.

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Drew's semi-autobiographical pic tells the tale of six disparate characters struggling to survive amid crime and violence in the Forest Gate area of the British capital.

He also takes a starring role in the upcoming refresh of the 1970s cult British cop show The Sweeney, alongside Ray Winstone, a movie building anticipation around Drew's first big acting job and the ever-green Winstone.

Drew is certainly brutally frank when it comes to his first experience making a feature length film.

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"When I started, the crew were mostly like, 'what the f--- is this popstar doing making a film," Drew told The Hollywood Reporter. "I had told them beforehand that I'd never done a film before and made that clear and they all said, 'Oh we'll look after you, we're here to help.' And then the first day of the shoot I got that [attitude]. There wasn't really a good vibe on set."

Despite that, Drew got the film with its princely budget of $160,000 made in his own way. "I wanted to make a guerrllla film. I said we can just go out and jump out and nick shit (with the camera) when we see it. Don't ask. But my director of photographer was very cautious and careful. Fair play to him but that's not the way I wanted to do it."

He is currently prepping an album named iLL MANORS, which will feature his songs used in the film, and he is writing three or four other numbers to include on the tie-in album. Drew has also set up his own record label, Temperamental, in partnership with EMI.

Drew also secured the chops of rising British star Riz Ahmed, to play alongside Drew's friend from a previous short and a Plan B music video Ed Skrein, in the movie.

"I told Ed [Skrein] that he'd need to relax and we wouldn't have time for him not to be on his game," Drew said. "Riz [Ahmed] really helped him with that and was a really solid presence when I didn't have time to do everything."

It is hawked by British sales and production finance banner Bankside Films and will roll out in the U.K. via British indie label and backer Revolver Entertainment.

It is a product of Film London Microwave, a partnership between BBC Films, FilmLondon and British film and TV industry body Skillset.

FilmLondon said it has chosen three new projects to follow in Drew's footsteps through the Microwave scheme. They are: Kingsland, written and directed by established scripter Tony Grisoni (Red Riding) and produced by Mike Elliott, set in London¹s hidden Kurdish community; Lilting, written and directed by Hong Khaou and produced by Dominic Buchanan, billed as an uplifting tale which explores falling in love without a common language; and Seekers, written by Arinze Kene (star of Microwave's Freestyle), directed by Nicole Volavka and produced by Rob Watson. That is a thriller set in the world of London's illegal immigrant underclass.