Published: 17 May, 2012
by ROISIN GADELRAB
WHAT is this magical hold Kentish Town has over its residents?
Young filmmaker Billy Boyd Cape’s story of a friendship with neighbour and superstar Mr Hudson cemented in their favourite Kentish Town café and the subsequent music video he created for Mr Hudson and Rosie Oddie’s latest project BIGkids, is a true testament to the allure of one of Camden’s main arteries.
The video to Superhero, as seen on YouTube, is a controversial imagining of a young Oddie and Hudson, pre-teen tearaways who down Calpol, smoke, rub sherbet into their gums and steal cars, set against the primary coloured landscape of the Clarence Way Estate and other familiar territories.
Neighbours and local businesses clamoured to help with filming – Billy and Mr Hudson’s favourite hairdressers Flaxon Ptootch lending space to film a tattoo scene, another lending his spectacular car, and Planet News lending space to film fake cans of beer being sold to kids.
Billy, 19, grew up in Kentish Town, and was educated at Highgate Boys School before moving on to Camden School for Girls. A keen photographer, he only began experimenting with moving images less than two years ago.
When he showed Mr Hudson his first documentary, his neighbour was encouraging.
Billy said: “When I was filming at my hairdressers I spoke to Ben (Hudson) about making the documentary on my DSLR (normally a stills camera). He said: ‘I’ve had videos made on those – you should make something for me’. That was December 10, 2009. Fifteen months later I did.”
After several exchanges, Mr Hudson suggested Billy try to make a music video for his latest project, the deliberately underhyped new band BIGkids.
At first, Billy didn’t believe the suggestion was serious. But he was soon invited to the studio to discuss plans with the band.
He said: “I’ve always been a Mr Hudson fan first. He deserves all the success he has gained for just being an amazingly kind and dedicated person.
“After he gained success with Kanye West I never expected to see him again – but still he shows up at our street parties, eats at our cafés and gets his hair cut at our local hairdressers. He has forever been dedicated to his roots.”
Billy called in neighbour and cinematographer Toby Elwes – just 16 and still studying for his GCSEs – and the duo, with one more cameraman and Rosie Oddie advising, took three days to complete the video.
Billy said: “I only met Rosie when I met the band. She’s a huge force and an amazing personality, an amazing person to work with, creatively and as a friend.
“Rosie was my closest contact when making the video. She’d come round and we’d make fake ID for Ben or a BIGkids calpol box, or text late at night about whether Ben should wear Hightops or Shelltoes shoes.
“The whole shoot was guerrilla and low-budget. We shot where we could and only asked for permission when we had to.
“Young Rosie’s bedroom was Rosie Oddie’s real bedroom, but did need some extra pimping with some 90s posters all over the wall. Young Ben’s bedroom was a friend’s house on Lawford Road which we made incredibly neat in contrast with Rosie's.”
With limited funds, Billy recognised the value of his doorstep.
He said: “We shot the whole thing in three days jumping from location to location, but that’s how you pull something off low-budget. You look around and realise, ‘I can shoot this whole video on this street, I don’t need to travel 40 minutes to one playground’.”
He added: “The cycling scenes were shot in the wide neighbourhood streets of Tufnell Park. The interior of the off-licence was our favourite, Planet News on Kentish Town Road.
“The kind folks let us sell fake beers to kids. This isn’t their advertising campaign, just a friendly neighbourhood.
“The exterior was more tricky – we snuck into the Irn-Bru shop on Islip Street. We only got one take as the shopkeepers quickly kicked us out. Apparently selling beers to kids isn’t a good impression on the police.
“The drinking and sweet-chugging scenes were all shot on the council estates just off Clarence Way up Kentish Town Road. I’ve walked through this bizarre mini-golf area all my life to get to Camden Market.
It was a brilliant space to film – totally urbanised, Disney-rich in colour and surrounded by high council estates.
“The smoking/running/puking/Calpol and playground scenes were shot in and around the huge estate on Islip Street – using each crevice and bit of land we could.
“As the locations break into night we shot the burning bin in a Kentish Town back-garden.
“The tattoo and ‘Dib-Dab’ moments were sneakily shot in the back of Flaxon Ptootch, a personal favourite place of mine. I hope to get the salon into everything I ever shoot.
“The car robbery was shot close to my home on Bartholomew Villas in a big driveway. We threw up huge green-screens around the car for the driving moments.
“Finally we ended up on a Sunday pulling as many friends as we could and the full BIGkids band to The Garage to listen to the song a few dozen times so we could crowd-surf our amazing kids.
“I’ve read a few people compare it to Rihanna’s We Found Love video, not sure how true it is, but if my first music video is compared to that then I’m happy.
“Superhero cost a mere hundreds of pounds to make and We Found Love probably cost a few hundred thousands.”
Learn more about Billy Boyd Cape here kutt-out.co.uk and watch BIGkids’ Superhero video on Youtube below