The budgets may have dropped since the heyday of the 80’s/early 90’s, but music videos are still one of the best opportunities for a director to let loose their creative visions on screen. Indeed, it’s a testament to the allure of a good pop promo project that so many successful commercial directors step into the form with such regularity - a recent example being the startling ‘Ragga Bomb’ from Egg FilmsTerence Neale.

Set in a post-apocalyptic turf war, complete with trolley-surfing scavengers and a glow-in-the-dark dancehall, the music video combines some fantastic South African locations with Neale’s witty vision (not to mention some incredible dance-troops). Complementing the energy of the track - Skrillex’s collaboration with British jungle pioneers Ragga Twins – with striking imagery, the vid not only manages to create a foreboding world of bopping gangs, but also includes a third-act twist that’ll leave George Lucas reaching for the ‘Like’ button (or his lawyer’s phone number).

We loved the piece, so caught up with Neale to chat Skrillex, location scouting and dealings with LucasFilm.

How did you get involved with the Skrillex project?

The music label tracked us down based on the work I’ve co-directed with Ninja for Die Antwoord. They wanted something “dark and dancey” for Ragga Bomb, so we sent them a treatment. They liked it and awarded us the job.

Where did the post-apocalyptic theme for the film come from? Was it an idea in search of a song or did it develop from hearing the track?

The video is a combination of a few ideas that had been swimming around in my head for a while. When I first heard the track I got really excited because I knew the track would perfectly match the worlds I was imagining.

We understand the vid was shot around Hillbrow, Alexandra and the Johannesburg Central Business District. How did you find the locations? How much dressing did they need?

Although the budget was tight, one thing we did have was time, which allowed my producer Rozanne and I to personally scout the locations. Smoke and fire was crucial in setting the tone, but other than that the locations needed very little dressing.

The dance troops featured in the film are fantastic. Where did you find them? Did they need much direction?

We held many castings and finding them wasn’t easy. I knew I wanted the dancing to match the rawness of the track, but have a very strong South African identity. The dancers that you see in the video instantly stood out; we cast them based on the energy they naturally posessed. We worked with David Mathamela to choreograph the dancehall girls and the majorette kids. The pantsula dancers are from a crew called Shakers and Movers and are completely mind-blowing. When we started shooting, it’s like they became possessed by the track.

How was the shoot itself? How long did it take?

The shoot was really tough. We had three days to get everything.

Where did the concept for the lightsaber climax come from? Was it something that had to be discussed with Lucasfilm?!

Next question...

The video has a fantastic filmic quality, but we all know music video budgets aren’t what they used to be. How did you achieve the look without breaking the bank?

Having enough time for the pre-production stage allowed us to cast and scout ourselves. We also got a lot of support from our suppliers and crew; many people were excited about the project and wanted to help out.

From your work on this and the fantastic ‘Baby’s On Fire’ for Die Antwoord, it’s clear that you enjoy making music videos that will get people talking (or gasping). Is that what you set out to do when starting the process, or is it just a by-product of the nature of films you like to make?

It’s impossible to predict what people will like so I try to make things that I think are entertaining and hopefully other people will like them too. A video is the visual representation of a track, so to me it’s crucial that the track and the idea are perfect together.

What’s up next for you?

Does anyone have Beyonce’s number?

Photos courtesy of Hanro Havenga.