Sunday, September 24, 2006

About to Blow - Mighty Mo

Moving nicely along in the series, About to Blow in association with MTV Base presents 24 year-old director Mohammad Ali aka Mighty Mo aka the force behind the Pow! and Murkle Man videos... words by Me!!!

With a name like Mohammad Ali, we weren’t surprised when the East Londoner told us of his previous potential career. “I used to be a boxer,” reveals the man known more commonly as Mighty Mo. “I even had two professional fights under my name. It was going well - until I busted my knuckle.” Pre-knuckle buckle, his opponents must have been shook when they looked at the card, but when they saw him, he laughs, they weren’t so scared anymore. “They would say, ‘Yeah, he’s pretty skinny. I can take him.’ They nearly did until I was biting their ankles!” So how did the ex-boxer turn into one of the UK’s most promising video young guns? For that we have to revert to his childhood. Like Mike TV from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Mo spent much of his early years in front of the box. “I’ll tell you the truth,” he says, opening up to RWD. “When I was younger, the babysitter would just plop me in front of the TV. To me then, it was just noise and flickering lights and stuff, but when I was older, say around 12, all I knew is that I loved the TV itself.”
Getting into the video direction game by chance, Mo remembers his first meeting with Hollywood was totally unexpected. “I used to hang around Beckton and Full Metal Jacket was shot there. On day one, one of the art directors came up to us in a 4x4, asking for a location [to shoot]. We showed him some derelict buildings and he loved it. He was really impressed and asked if I wanted to become one of his assistants over the summer holidays. I did it even though for a while I didn’t even know what I was doing.” Despite, ‘just running about and making tea,’ the budding lensman found himself loving everything, from complex matters like lighting to ‘simple things like waiting for planes to pass before shooting.’ With new cheap Argos camera in tow, Mo started putting together his own short films. “I would go into my local college and just hassle them. After a week and a half they let me in and I learned the basics.”
From those early days of doing Matrix remakes and looking up to Hype Williams and Chris Cunningham - which he still does - Mo has progressed and thrown himself into learning the craft. “I got a random bunch of rappers from around my area, turned them into a crew and made their video,” he says of the first vid that made it onto satellite. “I started charging more and more and thought, ‘Rah, I wanna be a director.’” Mr Ali soon found himself working in LWT studios on daytime projects but the big break came when an MC called Lethal B came knocking. “I showed him my work, he liked it and the next thing you know we’re meeting in a KFC car park talking about a tune called Pow!.” Knowing little but liking a lot, he went to work on a budget of ‘peanuts’ but he still went all-out with it. “I got my friend who does professional lighting, someone’s Dad who does camerawork for the National Geographic channel and mixed that with some people off the street.” That video, as we all know, became one of the grime scene’s most iconic. And memorable. That is until the Murkle Man video came along. “Jammer showed me an image, [RWD’s Issue 44 to be exact] and said he wanted it to be like that. It went from there.” Thanks to the video, that track has blown up the underground leading Mo to work with Plan B, Cream Cartel, Bruza, Choong Family, Blazin’ Squad (if that counts) and many more.
Due to his talent and graft Mo was recently snapped up by a big video production company, Draw Pictures. Getting all retrospective, Mo leaves RWD with a few down-to-earth words, “I’ve seen guys older than me get me cups of tea. That humbles you to think where you’ve got to, and right now there’s lots of work coming in,” he concludes. “I just wanna keep learning and living the dream.”

Look out for Mo productions on your terrestrial box very soon and keep checking or Catch Mo on About to Blow on Sunday September 24 at 7pm on MTV Base