Rapman On Creating, Writing & Directing Supacell

By Olivia Emily

3 weeks ago

The man behind Shiro's Story and Blue Story has a new series on Netflix


Now streaming on Netflix, Supacell is a new take on the superhero drama, following five ordinary Black people from South London who suddenly and unexpectedly develop powers. It was created, written and directed by Rapman – the creator of Shiro’s Story and Blue Story – making it the streaming platform’s first original TV series written and produced by a Black filmmaker. Starring newcomers Tosin Cole, Adelayo Adedayo and Yasmin Monet Prince at the fore, we sat down with Rapman to talk all about bringing the idea to life.

Interview: Rapman On Supacell

Rapman

Hi Rapman! Your project, Supacell, is coming to Netflix very soon – can you give us an elevator pitch for the show?

Yes, it’s so soon! Supacell is about five ordinary Black people from South London who unexpectedly develop superpowers. It is raw and relatable, and an authentic take on the superhero genre. Although it’s not your typical superhero show or Marvel, it’s everyday people with powers. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is predominantly about love. All of the characters have a love for someone they want to fight for and protect. I can’t wait for the world to see it!

When did the idea come to you?

It’s been subliminally there for a while, but I first spoke it out loud in 2019, while I was doing press for my last project. I was asked what’s next and then the Supacell idea just came out of me.

What was the writing process like?

It was tough! It was maybe the toughest part of the production for me. I think that’s because I wrote every episode. It felt like a never ending process and endless notes – and it never really did end. I remember wrapping on set at midnight then getting to my hotel to rewrite scenes for the shoot the next day. As tough as the process was, it definitely made the scripts better, which is always worth it.

This will be Netflix’s first original TV series written and produced by a Black filmmaker – how does that feel?

It’s a pretty surreal feeling and something I’m proud of. However, I don’t see this as a personal achievement, but a milestone for the Black creative community. While it’s a step in the right direction, it says a lot about how much work there still is to do within the entertainment industry to ensure our screens are truly diverse and representative.

How important is it for you that this project is set in South London?

It’s very important to me! South London is not only where I grew up, but it has an incredibly vibrant community with its own culture, stories and struggles. The decision to shoot in South London was ultimately about representation and empowerment. I wanted viewers to feel immersed in the sights, sounds and energy of South London, and to connect with the characters and their stories on a deeper level. It’s about showing that stories from marginalized communities are not only valid but also compelling and worthy of being told on a global stage.

Supacell stars the likes of Tosin Cole, Adelayo Adedayo and Yasmin Monet Prince – did you play a large role in casting?

Yes, I was very involved in the casting. It was important to me from the beginning that we use Supacell to elevate lesser known Black talent and provide them with a platform to help break into the industry.

We haven’t seen authentic and relatable Black characters in this genre often either, so I wanted to make sure we casted talent who really understood and connected with the characters. Tosin, Adelayo and Yasmin are each so talented and did a phenomenal job at this. The series wouldn’t be what it is without them.

In addition to the cast, we also launched the Supacell Six Scheme, an initiative to invite other Black creatives the opportunity to break into the TV industry. Together with Netflix, we gave six candidates the opportunity to grow in their chosen field through shadowing crew, access to experts in their field, and additional upskilling courses.

How did it feel to watch these young creatives bring your vision to life?

It’s been amazing, a dream come true! I feel so blessed to have worked with every single person who helped Supacell come to life. I’ve always believed you’re only as good as your team, and with this team, I believe we’ve created something truly special that people everywhere will be able to connect with. I also hope that by collaborating with these young creatives, we’re able to inspire and pave the way for future generations.

What do you hope viewers will take from the series?

Wow, that’s a tough one. To me, the series is first and foremost about love. All the characters have love for someone they want to fight for. For Michael, it’s about saving the girl and for Andre, it’s about getting closer to his son…

The underlying message is about protecting the ones you love, no matter the cost, so I hope the series encourages people to think about and connect with the people they love. It would be awesome if the series encouraged people to act – whether that be to tell someone they love how much they mean to them, or to call or spend time with someone they love. That would be powerful…

A still from Supacell

© Netflix

Any memorable moments from creating the series?

So many to mention! One memory that sticks out is when we were shooting the Piccadilly scene where our heroes are in the future and they display their powers. This scene was shot on a 30 ft, 360° green screen. It blew me away when I walked onto set that day! It was my first time shooting on a green screen, and it made me realize how far I’d come, which was pretty cool…

Obviously, it’s about superpowers so I have to ask: if you could have any superpower, which would you choose and why?

That’s a great question and one I thought a lot about when writing Supacell. I’d have to say it would be teleportation! Imagine being able to teleport at any point of the day. One moment you could be with friends having a catch-up in London, to the next, taking a meeting in Los Angeles, and then at a beach in Greece! It would remove the barriers of time and distance. I would no longer be constrained by travel. That would be cool, man…

Any new projects in the pipeline that you’re excited about? (If you’re allowed to tell us!)

I’m super focused on Supacell right now. I’ve been working on the series for four years, and am putting all my time and energy into its release. I have a few other exciting projects in the pipeline, but nothing I can share yet. Watch this space!

What’s something you would love to create that you haven’t gotten around to yet?

I’ve been blessed that so far: everything I’ve wanted to do has come to be. I hope I can continue to be so fortunate.

A still from Supacell

© Netflix

Who is someone you have learned the most from in your career?

There isn’t one person in particular. I study a lot of my favorite filmmakers like Spike Lee, Scorsese and Tarantino, and get a lot of inspiration from them and hope my career reaches similar heights.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

From as early as I can remember, I wanted to be a rapper or an actor.

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be? 

Good question! I think it would be to be patient. If you stay focused and keep working hard, it’s going to happen.

How can we all live a little bit better?

By being true to yourself and doing things that make yourself happy, instead of what pleases others.

Rapman

Rapman Recommends…

I’m currently watching… Invincible on Prime

What I’m reading… Mr Untouchable by Nicky Barnes

The last thing I watched (and loved) was… The Sound of Freedom

What I’m most looking forward to seeing… The world’s reaction to Supacell!

Favourite film of all time… Godfather Part I

Favourite song/album of all time: ‘The Crossroads’ by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Band/singer I always have on repeat… SWV

My ultimate cultural recommendation… Supacell

Cultural guilty pleasure… Friends

WATCH

All six episodes of Supacell are streaming now on Netflix. netflix.com