Knives Down, Bikes Up: Interview with Director Matt Dempsey

5th April 2019

London is currently experiencing a knife crime epidemic.

In response to this crisis, some of London’s youths have banded together to start the Knives Down, Bikes Up movement which is about breaking down barriers & creating a community of like-minded riders.

The death toll from knife violence is still rising rapidly. A growing number of children are becoming victims to knife violence with under 16’s most in danger whilst travelling home from school.

Knife violence in London is a problem that even the authorities are struggling to find an answer to. This community of riders is not claiming to be solving the issue, they’re just aiming to provide a sense of community for some of the youths who may be swayed by bad influences or violence.

The director of Knives Down, Bikes Up, Matt Dempsey was kind enough to answer some of our questions. If you’d like to see your film on, then please feel free to make a submission.

KnivesDown_IMG_01 | MadeGood.films

MadeGood – Please give me some background on yourself as a film maker; how you got into film making, what kind of film you usually make, that sort of thing. You are part of Masses Collective. Please tell us a bit more about what that is.

Matt – Filmmaking is something that stuck with me from a young age. It was one of those things that you would have never expected to be able to make a career out of when you’re in school so when the opportunity came up for me to do film school, I just jumped straight at it. I started working as an editor on the post production side of things before transitioning into a DP & then into a director. I’ve always been interested in most facets of production but had an end goal of being a director. My work is quite varied, I do a lot of commercial work but I’m trying to focus on human story documentary – which is not somewhere I envisioned transitioning towards when I was starting my career.

Masses Collective is a film production collective I started a few years ago. It’s something that was born out of a desire to create films with a wider network of my friends who were also in the industry.

KnivesDown_IMG_08 | MadeGood.films

MadeGood – Knife time obviously the topic of the moment in London. How did you get involved in this film, and how did you meet the brave young people who are choosing bikes over knives?

Matt – Knife violence is an extremely pressing issue in the UK at the moment. It feels like every week you’re hearing of tragedy related to knife violence in the media so I felt this was the perfect opportunity to share the story of some people who are trying to do something about it.
I was commissioned by Barbican to create a film for their series ‘The Art of Change’ in response to the theme of social action.

The story was of a particular interest to me because the youth demographic featured is one that’s not generally the first that comes to mind when talking of social action projects. The youth today really seem to take to societal issues. I just spoke through instagram & organised a shoot.. Jake (our main talent) was incredibly helpful in getting together a few riders for us to shoot.

KnivesDown_IMG_02 | MadeGood.films

MadeGood – Who is the voice narrating the film? He sounds very smart and observant, what was he like in person? How do you think he found the motivation to head this community, promoting such positive encouragement for young people?

Matt – Our main talent is Jake 100 – a local London rider who was instrumental in starting the Knives Down, Bikes Up movement in the capital as well as starting the massive bi-annual ride out called Bikestormz. It’s really refreshing to see the youth so engaged with what’s happening in London & wanting to create a positive change. As mentioned in the film, a close friend of Jake’s was a victim of knife crime which in turn caused Jake to try to do something about it. He’s turned his hobby (and the hobby of so many others) into a movement.

MadeGood – Your credited as director for this film, tell me a bit about your working process with the DOP and Sound Designer etc. How hands on were you in the production and edit?

Matt – I’m always pretty hands-on throughout an entire production. Because of my background in editing – I have a fair idea of what I want to shoot to capture the narrative going into a shoot but Charles Mori (our DOP) and I have a great working relationship where we can bounce ideas on the fly, which I think ultimately creates more interesting visuals. I sometimes have a bit of difficulty passing on projects to another editor, so I usually edit most of of my films myself.

KnivesDown_IMG_11 | MadeGood.films

MadeGood – What are you working on next?

I’m working on another documentary project at the moment which I can’t say too much about yet. Watch this space!

MadeGood – Nice one Matt, can’t wait to see the next one!

KnivesDown_IMG_10 | MadeGood.films

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