VS is director Ed Lilly’s feature film debut and his UK twist on the rap battle drama, made famous by Eminem’s 8 Mile. Made with backing from the BBC, the movie follows the story of young Adam, whose upbringing in the foster care system has left him scarred. When unexpectedly he discovers a talent for spitting bars, he takes on the local rap battle scene in Southend – yet is also forced to face his past.
Rising stars Connor Swindells and Fola Evans-Akingbola take on the role of Adam and street-hardened battle host Makayla while Lilly brought Mancunian battle rapper Shotty Horror, aka Adam Rooney, in to play the protagonist’s nemesis Slaughter, and Rowan Faife, co-founder of the UK’s largest rap-battle league Don’t Flop, to consult on making the film.
VS puts a spotlight of a subsection of British youth and culture not often visible while also exploring themes of masculinity, identity and sexuality. Meanwhile, the biggest confrontation is yet to come as the movie prepares to go head to head with the forthcoming Eminem-produced Bodied. May the best rap battle film win.
We sat down with the director to discuss what inspired him to tackle the UK rap battle scene for his feature film debut, how he worked to bring authenticity to his depiction of it and what he hopes the impact of the film will be.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 26th April 2019.
Video: Filippo L’Astorina
VS is released in select cinemas on 19th October 2018.
Watch the trailer for VS here: