An exciting new series debuting at this year’s London Film Festival is Grime Kids by BAFTA-nominated writer and British playwright Theresa Ikoko, based on DJ Target’s book, following a group of teenage boys trying to make a mark in the world through grime. As high school closes for the summer, with GCSEs done and dusted, a group of friends realise the impending end of their childhood years. Prepping for maturity, they aim to live their summer to the fullest having fun, while also securing their future in the music industry. This is the story of Dane, Bishop, Bayo, Junior and Kai.
Each individual has his own defining characteristic, a story to tell and a reason to look for something more than what life can provide. Set in the early 2000s, Grime Kids explores how the environment in which a person grows up affects their choices, actions and the kind of people they surround themselves with. It touches on the different approaches to parenting – from the overly strict to the neglectful to the ones incredibly dependent on their children – and how the absence of parental authority can urge young individuals to look for family elsewhere, whether it be through their friends or the idols they look up to. The writing highlights these different dynamics through toxic friendships, jealousy and familial rifts.
There are a lot of similarities here to Reggie Yates’s Pirates, specifically on the production side of things, as both have their central focus as music. References and aesthetic choices made are reminiscent of music culture: scenes and action sequences are filmed like music videos, incorporating a lot of slow motions, still frames and scenic city backdrops, super vibrant and high contrast filters are used, and the constant and dizzying camera movements recall record players and CD spinning. On top of all of that, the use of grainy photographs provides Grime Kids with a very 1990s to early 2000s look and feel.
The outlandish camera and editing work doesn’t end there. The cinematography plays a lot with angles and perspectives to piece together different sets and locations into one single and seamless frame, with phone calls being had side-by-side or back-to-back. This helps emphasise the theme of these young boys as constantly tied together by their friendship and love for music. It also helps reiterate the fact that there are multiple sides to one story – echoing the variety of backgrounds and personalities in their squad. Seeing the different sides in one single frame enhances the audience’s understanding of certain actions and the measures people take to achieve what they want.
Grime Kids is an excellent look into teen brotherhood and the musical culture that surrounds and inspires it. It’s invigorating to watch, with an addictive soundtrack that motivates and urges viewers to dance and find their passion. Most importantly, it has a wide cast of characters, each with something different to offer, and anyone watching will find themselves relating to at least one of them in some way or another.
Grime Kids does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.