Private Project

Till We All Gone

A daydream about rap and life in rural Louisiana.

  • Graham Dickie
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Southern Gothic, Music, Cinéma vérité
  • Runtime:
    22 minutes 48 seconds
  • Production Budget:
    4,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Graham Dickie

Graham Dickie is a multimedia journalist from Austin, Texas. He is currently based in Beijing, China.

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Director Statement

Produced over the course of four seasons and many trips from my home in Texas, "Till We All Gone" is a vérité exploration of rap music and rural life in the state of Louisiana, centered around the town of Clinton (population: 1,589). Initially inspired by the "song-collecting" expeditions of Alan Lomax -- who, over the course of four decades in the mid-20th century, played an invaluable role in popularizing the Blues worldwide -- I sought to dig deep into the heart of contemporary hip-hop in the Deep South, a historically embattled region that has cradled many of America's great musical forms. After many days and nights spent in a van in the countryside, this film resulted.

In Clinton I found an extraordinary sense of spirit and a story that I had been searching for without knowing its entirety: a coterie of rural rappers, in close dialogue with one another, making music about romance, heartbreak, street struggles, country living, and what it means to be black in the American South in 2017 while raising questions about the social context of art, the nature of dreams, creative influence in the age of the Internet, and the value of music to disadvantaged communities. I fell in with a crew of young men who allowed me to be like a shadow as they moved down dirt roads towards trailer home recording studios, sang by moonlit ponds, and hung out on their porches burning blunts and talking about life.

An essay film, "Till We All Gone" inhabits an elegiac and dreamlike space as it drifts around the countryside, more concerned with the tone and mood of the place than a hard-and-fast narrative structure. I am almost certain this is the first time anyone has produced a film about this subject, and certainly this particular place.

The project’s leading purpose was to explore rap music’s role in the South today. How does rap relate to the lives of its creators, especially marginalized ones? What significance does rap hold in local communities? These questions are especially relevant today because of the renewed discussion over civil and human rights and, on the music side, talk that local rap scenes no longer exist. What is gained through these local scenes, and why do they exist where they do? What is at stake if they are lost? Clinton, presented in this raw and visceral way, helps answer some of these questions.