New biopic to tell the story of music icon – Wiley, and the genesis of Grime

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Global content studio Pulse Films today announces the production of Adam Smith’s biopic WILEY, a feature length adaptation of the life of music icon Wiley, with development by BMG.

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Adam Smith’s new dramatic feature centres on the tumultuous and legendary life of the man credited as being the ‘Godfather of Grime’, Richard Kylea Cowie – aka WILEY. The film will chronicle his early days as a struggling MC and producer on London pirate radio to making a worldwide name for himself as a figure reimagining UK music and ushering in a new generation of talent. WILEY will reveal the difficult and often dangerous journey behind the pioneer’s career at a time when British Grime was not embraced by the mainstream and existed only in the clubs and on white label records. The film will capture the tangible excitement of this burgeoning musical movement, felt today all around the world, and will tell for the first time on film, the remarkable story of how one man came to define a musical revolution and finally find family, love and success on his own terms and against all the odds.

Considered a near-mythical pioneer of underground British music and credited for being the founding father of Grime music, Wiley has been a critical factor in rise of several of the UK’s biggest stars including Skepta, JME, Dizzee Rascal, Chip and Ghetts. His accolades also include a plethora of chart-topping hits including ‘Wearing My Rolex’, the #1 hit single ‘Heatwave’ and classics ‘Eskimo,’ ‘Snowman’ and ‘Avalanche.’

In 2018 Wiley was appointed an MBE at Buckingham Palace for his services to music, marking an historic milestone for a Grime artist and cementing into history his impact on a generation. Wiley released his 12th studio album ‘Godfather II’ on April 27th. The album serves as the follow up to 2017’s ‘Godfather’ which garnered critical acclaim and became Wiley’s highest charting album to date.
BMG publishes all 12 tracks on ‘Godfather’ and has published all of Wiley’s songs since it started working with him in April 2015 through co-publishing partner Black Butter.

Adam Smith is an award-winning film and television drama director whose feature debut TRESSPASS AGAINST US starred Michael Fassbender, Sean Harris and Brendan Gleeson. Smith garnered global acclaim for helming the highly innovative and celebrated Chemical Brothers documentary DON’T THINK which won Best Live Film at the Music Video Awards 2013 and was given 5 stars by Empire. Smith’s TV work also includes episodes of global hit shows SKINS, LITTLE DORRIT and DOCTOR WHO.

Smith’s connection to Wiley dates back to 2004 when he directed the video for his debut single ‘Wot Do U Call It?’, a video which has become an iconic cult-favourite around the world. Smith also directed a short documentary (of the same name) featuring many of the then-future stars of the scene before it was officially given the ‘Grime’ moniker in the early 2000’s.

WILEY will be penned by acclaimed writer Sabrina Mahfouz, with Pulse Films’ Marisa Clifford, Josephine Davies, and Jacob Swan Hyam producing. Pulse Films’ Thomas Benski & Lucas Ochoa and A-List Management’s John Woolf, BMG’s William Kennedy and Kathy Daum will also serve as Executive Producers on the film.

Janaya Cowie, Wiley’s sister, is closely attached to the project as an Executive Producer, along with SBTV founder Jamal Edwards MBE. Edwards, a long-time friend of Wiley, is widely credited as being an instrumental figure in bringing Grime to the mainstream. Cowie and Edwards will both play contributory roles in bringing WILEY to the big screen; leaning on their personal experience of being on the inside of Wiley’s protected inner circle.

Wiley commented: “This is my life, my highs and lows, but it’s not really all about me. When I make music, help the scene or even do something like this it’s like I’m not alone any more. It’s for people who grew up like me. I’m doing it to help people who are lost like me.”

Director Adam Smith also added: “Meeting Wiley and seeing what he and his friends were creating was a huge inspiration to me. Making a film about this incredible talent and his story 15 years later is very exciting.”

John Woolf, A-List Management: “It has been an honour to work with Wiley for the past 11 years, he is a true creative genius and someone who has inspired and helped so many. His story is truly mind blowing and I am happy we are bringing it to life on the big screen with such great partners alongside us.”

Marisa Clifford, CEO at Pulse Films: “Wiley is a true icon and telling his story, in this way, is a perfect amalgamation of everything we do at Pulse Films. We’re honoured to be working with him on such an ambitious project and thrilled to be collaborating with Adam Smith who is an incredible and innovative filmmaker. We’re also very excited to be working with Sabrina Mahfouz, who we think is one of the most exciting young writers around – her insight and talent for getting to the heart of a story is remarkable. WILEY will build on our studios heritage for making culturally important films that are relevant to a diverse global audience”.

Will Kennedy, BMG: “Wiley is an innovator and an authentic voice who speaks to millions. One of BMG’s key missions is to give full rein to artist’s creativity. We were delighted to see Wiley publish his autobiography with our sister Bertelsmann company Penguin Random House, and we are pleased now to be working with him on the development of this biopic.”

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