A cinematic portrayal of a WorldStar Hip Hop fight.
Interview with Director Erica Eng
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
This song was shown to me by the artist, with whom I've worked with in the past (this is our 5th music video together). He's a boxer, so I originally wrote an idea for a slow motion boxing match where he would perform most of the lyrics in real-time all within one slow motion punch. However, due to budget constrictions, I re-wrote the idea and turned it into a fight in the middle of the street.
As I was writing the story, I felt like it gave me the opportunity to express my opinions on fighting in general. I grew up in Oakland where there's a lot of violence in the community. Kids at school thought fights were funny and would run towards them to watch, but I never understood what was so funny about watching someone get hurt. Now there's WorldStar Hip Hop where fight videos are being uploaded and watched daily for entertainment. While producing the video, I kept coming across news articles and facebook feeds where someone expresses grief for loosing a brother or a cousin. It then just started to click for us that this is an important topic to talk about.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I mean, watch it if you want haha. I want people to watch more music videos in general. They're not all just "bitches and cars." But I guess the audience I was trying to connect with is the WorldStar HipHop fans. The treatment started off with a Mr. Rogers "it's just another day in the neighborhood" tone because it was supposed to mock how often this scenario happens - it's just another day in the neighborhood, it's just another fight.... until shit gets real and someone gets hurt.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
This theme connected with everyone involved in the making of the film. From the DP to the extras, everyone knew what this scene was and what we were trying to depict. I called each extra in this film because I wanted to tell them what we were doing and why this story was important. When asked about their personal experiences, some said that they are the type of people who like to watch fights happen, some have been in fights before, others have lost loved ones in the past. We only had 3 actors on set, but out of the 40 talent involved, everyone just knew what to do and how to act. That just shows how often things like this happen for the reactions to be so natural.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
I received mixed reviews. Some people thought the video was okay, others thought it was very emotional. I think Daniel may have received more positive reactions than I have. I showed this video at the Oakland International Film Festival and received some very harsh negative attitudes about the themes in this film. It turned very racial and people were angry about portraying African American men in a negative way, especially when the Black Lives Matter movement is still growing. It was tough for me as a Chinese American female to defend this film.
I called Daniel after the showing and he wrote this to help me with future showings:
"'Simeon, Nicolas, Isaac, Kemdi, Jermaine, all of them slain to a bullet but memory lane could never change what has already taken place. We managed to move on, and all of it took faith. What's to make of killing your own kind ni**a? Takes ten fingers to fight, and one to pull a trigger.'
For each of the names mentioned in the 2nd verse, I received a phone call that broke my heart. I attended a service to commemorate a life that was taken far too early. Within a 3 year time frame, on five different occasions, a friend's life was taken away from us due to misplaced aggression and someone's inability to process their own hurt and self-hate.
As the discussion on the value of black lives grows in popularity, people who are unaffected by the reality of inner city violence remain desensitized by a social issue that they only understand statistically.
Fighter allows people to connect with the reality of misplaced aggression, anger and a subsequent tragedy that is so familiar but still devastating to inner city youth. Although the video itself does not present a solution to the issue of violence, it serves as a realistic depiction of what often happens in our neighborhoods. As people connect with the reality of the hurt felt by so many young people, they can choose to be part of the solution as mentors, artists and educators."
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The feedback surprised me because I wrote this film about violence, but it quickly became about race. I still stand by my opinions and reasons for why we wanted to make this film. I don't regret it. It hasn't changed my views.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
At every showing, people always want to talk about the social issues in this film. I never got a chance to talk about the making of this film or the film itself. So I appreciate this platform and being able to tell my side of the story.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I would love for this video to be visible on WorldStar Hip Hop's website. They don't only show fight videos, they have other content on their site as well and I feel like ours is very relevant. I even pulled audio from real fight videos online because we didn't have a sound recordist on set. There's a moment after the "gunshot" where the screen goes to black and you can hear people scream and yell in the distance - this audio was pulled from an actual fight video online after a white SUV ran through a fight in the middle of the street. The feeling I wanted to express was immediate fear and confusion which is why I wanted the audience to sit in the darkness and listen to these actual panicked voices.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I'm hoping people will feel the hurt that we tried to portray at the end. The actress, Linda Walton, played a grieving mother, while Daniel's sister-in-law, Shavonne Farris, played the neighbor who consoles her. When we practiced this scene, we talked about loved ones who they've lost in the past. One of them knew a woman who just lost her son a few weeks before. I want people to feel that this is not just a story, this is real life and it's happening right now.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
The topic of Black Lives Matter comes up a lot, which I don't like. I don't want this video to be compared to the movement.
Interview: December 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
A cinematic portrayal of a WorldStar Hip Hop fight.
Length: 6 minutes
Director: Erica Eng
Executive Producers: Daniel Farris, Douglas Riggs
Line Producer: Filippa Edenbro
Fighters: Supa Good D smoke, Glenndon Chatman, Fat Ron, Anthony Cox
Consoling Neighbor: Shavonne Farris
Crying Mother: Linda Walton
Extras: Anthony Gouché, Stephanie Hoston, Twanna Timms, Donovan Kushner, David Vazquez, Samuel Lazarit, Quiana Williams, Jahzie Roberson, Dimarié Cooper, Chris White, Cayim White, Takim Brown, Ace Rellik, Devin Winston, Jennifer Garcia, Cristina Nuñez, Roxana Muñoz, Alfredo Lambert, Treavion Perkins, Richard Williams, Ricardo Williams, Reece Williams, Wayne Smith, David Severin, Christopher Sanders, Francisco Mejia, Cedrick Larkins, ill CamillE, Ron Farris, Ter'ron Crawford
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Looking for more sites to post this video! WorldStar, Vevo, VideoStatic, Nowness, Vice, etc.
Funders: Daniel Farris & Erica Eng
Made in association with: Brawler