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Ruff Sqwad 'Flee FM' by Dumas Haddad

Promonews - 15th Mar 2024

Celebrating the return of the collective who were prime movers in grime music during the 2000s, Dumas Haddad situates the new music project by Ruff Sqwad within the context of their early days with a marvellous music film.

In Haddad's 16 minute short-cum-extended music video for the trio's new project Flee FM, Ruff Sqwad members Slix, Prince Rapid and Dirty Danger perform the EP's seven tracks in the evocative setting of a pirate radio station - a nostalgic homage to the crucial role played by stations like Deja Vu FM, Rinse FM and Heat FM in the development of grime in the Noughties, when the collective were emerging from the same East London neighbourhood as Wiley and Dizzee Rascal.

Beautifully shot by Courtney Bennett and graded by Jason Wallis, with production design by Jade Adeyemi and sound design by Bankey Ojo, Haddad allows the trio's performances to take centre stage and flourish naturalistically within a cinematic setting.

The performances are punctuated with additional material - phone-ins, radio stings, shots of nighttime East London, to heighten the sense that Ruff Sqwad have come back with their own pirate station, Flee FM, and hit the airwaves once more - old school vibes that we need right now. The results are compelling. 

This was clearly a labour of love for Haddad, who experienced the rise of grime culture at close quarters as a youngster, and was very aware of the importance of Ruff Sqwad within that story.

"In crafting this film, my primary aim was to immerse audiences in the visceral and clandestine world of pirate radio, a realm that defined London's youth culture in the early 2000s, specifically bringing them back to the derelict, illegal spaces where this vibrant, DIY movement thrived," he says.

Haddad, who addressed the impact of how government cracked down on the pirate radio revolution in his 2019 short film The Gift, points out that the authentic evidence of this world was only ever captured on DV tapes at the time. "These tapes now stand as our visual relic—a testament to the raw energy that permeated those illicit broadcasts."

Hence his desire to pay tribute properly to the original pirate radio era, beautifully recreated here by transporting the audience to the days of FM dials, phone-ins, Avirex jackets, Evisu denim and, of course, Nokia phones.

"Being a Ruff Sqwad fanatic, collaborating with them on this project is not just an honour but a milestone, bringing my journey full circle," explains Haddad. "Through this film, I aim to capture and immortalize the untamed spirit of grime's formative years, paying tribute to the era that shaped the genre, and in turn, shaped me."

 

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Promonews - 15th Mar 2024

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Credits

Production/Creative

Director
Dumas Haddad
Producer
Simon Oxley
Producer
Georgia Rae Sterling-Grant
Production Company
Production Assistant
Joe Mutale

Camera

Director of Photography
Courtney Bennett
Focus Puller
Dan Deighton
2nd AC
Ryan Rae
Steadicam
Murray Boden
BTS
Lücy AA
Sound Recordist
Alex Vasco

Lighting/Grip

Gaffer
Dale Healy

Art

Production designer
Jade Adeyemi

Editorial

Editor
Dumas Haddad
Sound design
Bankey Ojo
Sound Mix
Ty Defiance

Grading

Colourist
Jason Wallis
Colour grade company

Promonews - 15th Mar 2024

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