Director Steve Loveridge leaked a teaser of an upcoming documentary about rap star MIA on Tumblr over the weekend. Shortly after doing so, he left the project, citing extreme frustration with ongoing delays in production.
The documentary began filming last year and features appearances by artists such as Kanye West, Spike Jonze, Richard Rusell, Switch and Interscope’s Jimmy Iovine. Loveridge’s actions on Tumblr have ignited a firestorm of controversy on the internet. As reported by The Guardian, Loveridge stated that the teaser was originally produced “to show Interscope what the film would feel like.”
After months of delays, Loveridge decided he’d had enough and took it upon himself to pressure the label by posting the teaser. He encouraged fans of MIA to spread the leaked clip far and wide. “Reblog the sh– out of this and may be they´ll wake up,” he wrote on his Tumblr blog.
Enthusiastic fans responded on social networks, and within minutes the clip was all over the internet. Within hours, however, Loveridge was hit with a copyright claim from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and Youtube pulled the clip.
MIA has been always a controversial figure. Her comments about Sri Lanka, India, capitalism and democracy have traditionally been highly provocative. MIA was born in London but her father set up an Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students in India and Sri Lanka that campaigned for the separation of Tamil as a sovereign state. In the teaser of the upcoming documentary there are fragments of her speech and work regarding that cause.
Speaking about the production cycle of the film, MIA explained- “…initially it started off as a 3D iBook. It was a really big, elaborate idea and there was so much to choose from that nobody knew what to do with it all.” Currently, the filmed footage will be used in the documentary while the 2D work will used for a book.
In more harmonious times, Loveridge and MIA both seemed excited to work on the project and she had lofty aspirations. “I wanted to change the world and was really inspired all the time,” she said. “It was really difficult for me to come into school and sit down and listen to theory that didn’t really apply to my real life at the time.”
MIA has always had a controversial relationship with the press. She once blurted out the “F word” to The New York Times after the newspaper did a piece about her work and Sri Lanka.
After Loveridge leaked the teaser, MIA turned to her fan base on Twitter to plead for assistance. “I’m gonna need Kickstarter and my fans to help make this exist,” she said. “I’ve been black listed through normal channels.”
The label had been planning on releasing the documentary together with the album’s promotional cycle and MIA’s festival appearances, but they are furious about Loveridge’s decision.”The timing of this leak is not good, as it screws with everything we’ve worked on,” said a label representative. “I think we’ll pull the teaser clip down ASAP to then set it up properly and not just have to go for damage control.”
MIA’s documentary teaser being leaked on Tumblr may have come out of Steve Loveridge’s frustration, but at this point, he has emotionally divorced himself from the project entirely. “I really couldn’t give a flying f— Count me out,” he said. “I would rather die than work on this.”