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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

Patti Cake$

by writer/director Geremy Jasper

I’ll just come out and say it.... Patti Dombrowski is my alter ego. She’s an amalgamation of different times in my young life. From the overweight nine-year-old too big for pool parties who let his Run DMC, Beastie Boys, and LL Cool J tapes “rock ‘til his tapes popped” while writing endless rhymes in secret notebooks; to the adolescent who recorded amateur songs in the basement of the local Jersey pet store and travelled into Newark to play with his rap/rock band only to be pelted on the stage with bread by NJ skinheads; to the 23-year-old living in his parents’ musty/hoarder-like basement writing songs nobody would ever hear, nursing an invalid grandparent as well as a burning desire/depression to run away and be an artist. That desire is where Patti was born.

Patti Cake$ is a big juicy love letter—a two hour valentine for my lifelong obsession with hip hop music combined with my adoration of the big mouthed and big bodied Jersey women who raised me. It’s an emotional call to arms for open hearted, music obsessed dreamers who give zero f’s. A film about aching to get out but being anchored by the weight of reality. It’s about finding a surrogate family of misfits to make music with.

Those core themes are what we used to make the film. Our production was a traveling circus of misfits moving through Jersey and the five boroughs. An exciting combination of non-actors, legends, rappers, Ivy Leaguers, viral stars, cabaret performers, street kids. The crew was scrappy and adventurous, hungry to push for some new breakthrough. A fresh camera angle, a weird wash of color. We experimented constantly and tried to stretch our blue collar environments as far as we could. There was an openness to discovery and a genuine joy in the process. And making the film made us see these everyday people and places—things I wanted to run from as a kid—as something beautiful.