Posts Tagged ‘Director’

Migos And Kung Fu Movies Merged In The ‘Stir Fry’ Video Thanks To This Director

Quotes from Gordon Parks, the ’70s U.K. glam scene, and Quavo’s nunchuck proficiency aren’t topics one might expect to discuss with the director of the latest Migos video. But Sing J. Lee isn’t most directors. At first glance, “Stir Fry” merely seems like another example of the burgeoning virality and humor at the center of the Migos’ growing brand. However, under the surface is a world of influences that may be lost on the average American.

Esoteric, thoughtful, and detailed, Lee bleeds his influences in conversation. He’ll break down how the lighting and aesthetic choices for “Stir Fry” come from legendary films by Wong Kar-wai. That thread will pull at another, and soon you’re learning a brief history of the traditional southern Chinese kung fu martial art Wing Chun.

Before working with the Atlanta trio, Lee had never worked with a rapper, let alone the biggest rap group in the world. So how does a British-born, Wales-raised director with parents from Hong Kong get tasked with merging the world of classic kung fu films and North Atlanta trap?

In an interview with MTV News, Lee discusses the wild making of the “Stir Fry” video.

MTV News: Does anything about the day you guys filmed the video stick out — anything that was super funny that will always stay with you?

Lee: I brought the game of Mahjong to this video, which is what you see them playing with Pharrell and Nigo and Migos are at the table. This was on the second day. We’re about ready to shoot, and Quavo and Pharrell ask, “How do you play this game and what is this game?” We anticipated this. We brought a Mahjong master to come down on set.

But we spent 20 minutes with this old Chinese guy explaining how to play this game of Mahjong. He explained it well, but he started backwards and went to the beginning. Just watching Migos, Nigo, and Pharrell just trying to figure out how to learn to play this Mahjong game was hilarious.

MTV News: How do you teach Quavo to use nunchucks or Takeoff to fight a wooden dummy?

Lee: My production designer JC Molina, he called me and was like, “I have cinderblocks, you know, the prop cinderblocks in my storage. Let’s bring them and put them into the set and maybe we can get one of them to chop it.” One of our extras turned out to be, like, a nunchucks master and brought nunchucks randomly. So on the day, we just spontaneously [said], OK great, let’s assign three different things for this training scene that we need to do anyway.

So Quavo wanted the nunchucks. I think he used to play with them when he was a kid. We gave Takeoff the wooden block to fight against. And Offset wanted to smash some cinderblocks. So that’s how they all came together.

MTV News: What was the thinking behind putting those bloopers at the end?

Lee: Well, because of how funny Migos were actually on the day. When we were doing take after take and the whole set was cracking up. Me and the label were discussing that actually — you know what, we probably have some really funny moments amazing moments and we should definitely use them and roll them at the end like the Rush Hour bloopers or the Jackie Chan movies.

I think it makes Migos look really likable and it was really funny. You can see how fun shooting this actual project was. Again, it was another great moment to [pay homage to] Asian kung fu movies.

MTV News: Is the “Stir Fry” video inspired by a specific kung fu movie or movies? Or is it something where you pulled from a lot of different films?

Lee: In terms of style and in terms of the aesthetic and the lighting, I was looking at old favorites like In the Mood For Love by Wong Kar-wai or 2046. In terms of the films, I was looking at obviously Bruce Lee films with Enter the Dragon and Fist of Fury. When I got to the martial arts element, I was really looking to try and capture that and write that in a way that we really don’t see it captured in American cinema.

In American cinema, fight sequences are really dramatic and dynamic, and there’s lots of cuts and slow-mo and high-speed. With those old Chinese films, they really don’t cut unless absolutely necessary. They really hold on their shots and let the action play out, and this was something that I thought the viewer wouldn’t pick up on, but definitely sense that tone. They’ve seen it before.

So I was looking at the fight sequences in films like House of Flying Daggers and the Ip Man films with Donnie Yen. The fighting style I wanted to pay homage to again was Wing Chun, which is what Ip Man was famous for. It’s what Bruce Lee learned before he created his own martial arts. It’s a very fast and dynamic form of fighting. It’s nimble and it’s exciting.

MTV News: A majority of Asian imagery in pop culture tends to be watered down, highly offensive, or problematic, and there is rarely a full immersion in a culture. Did you ever have a conversation with Migos about respecting and not appropriating Asian culture for the music video?

Lee: We didn’t, but I think there was just an unspoken agreement. I mean, I like to think they brought me onto this project because they liked the idea. I think that’s what happened. It was fortunate that I’m also Chinese.

As someone who, at this point in my own personal projects, is really focused on profiling correctly and empowering our community, I like to think of myself as just a director, but there’s also a great opportunity to be a Chinese director on this one specifically. They, throughout the whole project, just treated everything with a lot of respect, and we didn’t have a conversation, but I think there was the assumption that we are going to do this right.

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How I Got My Start: Keith Gulla, Communications Director at Converse

With graduation season upon us, commencement addresses that inspire graduates to follow their dreams are the norm.  But how do you actually get that dream job?  We have started asking some of our industry friends who have scored killer positions to tell us the story behind how they got their start.  First up – Keith Gulla, Communications Director at Converse.

Take us back to when you were growing up in Houston.  What were some of the professions that interested you.

Music was my passion while growing up in Houston, TX. It started as a young kid with with my father playing Elvis records every morning to wake us up. My mother took me to my first concert when I was in middle school and throughout high school I was also going to shows with my friends.  I was fully convinced that I was going to pursue a career in music and always dreamed about working for MTV or a cool record label.

When deciding what educational path to take, what factors led to what you actually chose to major in?

During my early years of college, I did everything I could to learn more about the music industry. I worked for record labels doing street promotions and wrote music reviews for local a newspaper.  I even worked late-night shifts DJing at a local college radio station.  None of these opportunities were paid but they helped me to understand the music industry and eventually inspired me to major in Communications.

Tell us a little bit about your first internship and how it helped you on your career path.

My first introduction to public relations was through an internship at a nationally recognized non-profit theater in Houston.  This is where the foundation of my career in communications started. The PR Director at that time was fantastic, she became my mentor and taught me everything I needed to know about public relations. 

What was your first “career” job?

As soon as I graduated from college I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in public relations and continue to support the arts in Houston.  This led to a PR Coordinator position at a non-profit contemporary art space called DiverseWorks. During my time there, I worked with some of the most ground-breaking visual and performing artists from around the world.  It was inspiring to be a part of an organization that provides a platform for young artists to show and create work that always pushed the limits. I continued my support for the arts by serving on the Executive Boards of two other non-profit arts organizations in Houston.

Which position do you feel was your first big break in the world of fashion?

It wasn’t until I decided to get my Master’s Degree in NYC that I was introduced to the world of fashion.  This was the second time an internship changed my life.  My initial intention was to learn about the art community in NYC through an internship at an organization or museum. After more consideration, I decided to explore the fashion world and applied for a PR internship at Marc Jacobs. What began as a semester internship grew into a year and half of work experience and media relations that would eventually lead me to Converse.

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Tell us about your start at Converse.

When I started working at Converse almost 10 years ago, the brand was about to celebrate their 100th anniversary. It was a celebration of the people who made Converse the cultural icon it has become and featured original designs, product collaborations and re-issues from the archives.  We also launched a massive initiative with PRODUCT (RED) that invited 100 artists from a wide-range of disciplines and levels of notoriety to use their creative power to design a sneaker to support The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It was an exciting time to join the company and it hasn’t stopped since.

What have been some of your most memorial experiences while working at the brand?

Some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had at the brand were during Converse Rubber Tracks moments.  Established in 2011, the award-winning program provides artists the opportunity to record in state-of-the-art studios around the world, a platform for artists to showcase their talent via a live concert series and access to an ever-growing digital sample library – all free with no strings attached.  Through Converse Rubber Tracks, I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of artists from around the world and hear the impact the program has had on their musical careers. It makes it easy to go to work every day knowing that you’re making a difference in the community. 

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We all know that work is not just fun and games, what advice can you give to recent grads about how to turn an opportunity into a career?

The best jobs you’ll ever have are the ones that challenge and inspire you.  Until you find that perfect job, my advice is to get as much experience as possible through volunteering and/or internship opportunities.  You never know if one of those opportunities will lead to a career or if you’ll find a mentor along the way.  Here at Converse, we have an excellent internship program that provides a full immersion into the brand’s culture. I’ve had the opportunity to mentor some amazing students through the program.

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Ken Link Named As New Jordan Brand Design Director

words // Nick DePaula:

In a major leadership change at the Nike World Headquarters, longtime Swoosh designer Ken Link has recently been named as the new Jordan Brand Design Director, where he’ll set seasonal initiatives and frame the design language of the brand’s performance footwear. His first full season of led products is expected to release in Summer 2017.

Since Nike launched the Jordan Brand as its own subsidiary in 1998, both the performance and lifestyle product silos have come from the same team of designers, with designers working on sneakers of all uses simultaneously. Going forward, the company has decided to split their team of designers into two separate design teams that will focus individually on performance and casual sneakers.

Link, one of the most respected personalities on campus, has been with the company for twenty years, and created several iconic basketball and football models throughout his career. He’s previously held down roles as Design Director of Nike Basketball during the mid to late 2000s, and most recently worked as a Design Director at the Nike Training and Nike Cleated categories.

“Kenzo” worked on the Zoom Kobe 1 and 2, and is most associated with his design work for LeBron James on the LeBron 2-6 and the first three Zoom Soldier models.  While working on training and cleated product, he crafted the Zoom Revis, Alpha Talon, Zoom Vapor Untouchable, Lunar Trout and many, many more statement level products.

As Jordan looks to expand further into football, after recently announcing the University of Michigan will become the first Jumpman football program, you can also expect to see Link’s work showing up again on the gridiron.

Stay tuned for more information on a new design direction for future Jordan Brand products, and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s in store for the brand ahead.

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above: Kobe Bryant and Ken Link at the Zoom Kobe 1’s spring 2006 launch event.LeBron 2 Sketch 1200 Kenzo

above: Ken Link’s Nike Zoom LeBron II design

 

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Interview // Nike Basketball Design Director Leo Chang Details The Hyperdunk 2015

words & interview // Nick DePaula

When the original Hyperdunk launched in 2008, the shoe marked a new era in many ways. It weighed just 13.0 ounces, which at the time Nike’s CEO Mark Parker said was the lightest basketball shoe to date. (I remember a couple sneakers listed on Eastbay at a shade under 13 ounces before then, but who’s counting, right?) These were real light, even with an all-new high cut silhouette that was new to hoops footwear. They also incorporated Nike’s new Flywire technology, an upper panel simply made of plastic and fabric strands that mostly looked really cool, but also became a marketing dream for the company across all categories. The shoe single-handedly moved the industry towards a focus on lighter weights, with synthetic materials a new focus and leathers a thing of the past.

Nike was so damn confident in the shoe that they even invited media to their sprawling Beaverton, Oregon campus during the summer of 2008 for a detailed walkthrough of the model’s design and development process, along with a “media weartest” of the shoe. Every single brand holds media run events now — but it was unheard of to that point — as sneaker blogs weren’t yet an established presence then and brands were reluctant to host a real-time on-court feedback session. They’d rather just tell you how great the shoes were and have writers relay those claims in their stories.

Kobe Hyperdunk 2008 Nike Launch 600I’ll never forget the then-head of Nike Basketball turning to us after our interview and saying, “I can talk these up all day long, but what better way to judge them than to lace them up yourselves and give them a run?”

So that’s exactly what we did. With Nike execs and Kobe Bryant himself standing right on the sideline watching us.

As expected, the shoe was an absolute beast, and it featured a combination of what Nike loved to call “lightweight containment” that was entirely new to the game. In the mid-2000s, shoes were beginning to get clunky as hell (see: Shox Bomber), and the Hyperdunk shifted the industry completely away from the two ever-present styles at the time: overly retro-driven models like the Air Force 25 and overly-complex mechanical cushioning setups like the many full-length Shox bricks and adidas’ $ 250 “computer shoe”, the adidas 1, which quite literally bricked.

“You’ve been with us for the journey, and we always talk about the Hyperdunk in 2008 being a defining moment for us and a new era for innovation in basketball,” Nike Basketball Design Director Leo Chang told me last week. “Before, it was always a leather or a synthetic leather upper on a crazy innovative bottom. The explosion in innovation throughout the whole shoe started with the Hyperdunk in 2008.”

Each year since, the Hyperdunk has become Nike Basketball’s marquee team franchise model, providing players of all sizes with an all-around product that looks to offer up a blend of protection, versatility, traction and cushioning. The newest version, the Hyperdunk 2015, looks to combine the best of each model. There’s the protective higher cut, the midfoot support wedge, tried and true herringbone traction, and most importantly — in my opinion — a return to both heel and forefoot Zoom Air.

To hear all about the latest addition to the editions, I recently caught up with Leo Chang for a full breakdown of the new Hyperdunk 2015.

Hyperdunk 2008_2015 Lineup 3

Nick DePaula: The first Hyperdunk in 2008 was such a landmark shoe. You then did the 2009 on the Hyperize, and then the 2010 and 2011 too. Olivier Henrichot did the 2012 and Peter Fogg did the 2013 and 2014 after that. Once Foggy retired, how’d you decide to take the Hyperdunk series back on?

LC: In my current job, obviously I can’t do everything. [laughs] As the Design Director, I have to overlook all of the line in footwear, and I have a great team of designers that are amazing, so I’m not going to hog all of the projects. Foggy was a great designer and he’d done some pretty legendary stuff, so I trusted him to take it somewhere new. For the ’15 in particular, it was an interesting time, because Foggy had decided to retire from Nike and go ride motorcycles or do whatever the hell he wanted to. [laughs] So, it was a weird transition and we needed someone to design the shoe, so I just hopped back in there.

NDP: With the original Hyperdunk taking some inspiration from the Mag, and this being the 2015 edition, how much did that come into play in terms of offering some inspiration?

Leo Chang H 2LC: That was Avar’s vision from the beginning, and I always thought it was cool to start from there from an aesthetic standpoint. I just love the Mag, and it’s one of my favorite sneakers of all time. It’s just such a cool silhouette, and to this day, it’s still such a futuristic shoe. I wanted to kind of go back to that.

When we did the Hyperize, it was still there, and then 2010 was there through the collar. Then from the ’11, it shifted a bit, but there were components here and there. Through the Foggy era, it diminished a little more, and I felt like being that it was 2015, it’d be a good time to go back to that, but not be too literal.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the idea was around, “What would I do to modernize the 2008 Hyperdunk?” It’s kind of like in iconic cars like Porsches, you see the lineage of the gesture for models like the 911. You see how they evolve, and it’s really iconic and they just modernize it every time. It’s like an iPhone too. Each time, it’s more refined. I wanted to take that approach, and looking at the original Hyperdunk, you had the very iconic triangular shape in the lateral foam stockfit component that was a stability feature on the first one. Then, you had the floating heel clip.

At the time, it was also a very new collar silhouette, and it had the high to low hybrid height. That wasn’t really a thing until the Hyperdunk, and now it’s everywhere. I wanted to look at the silhouette as a point of doing what the Hyperdunk did in having a high collar, but still articulating where it needs to. From there, just cleaning it up and letting the upper be more simple. It felt right to do that. To me, it was a more modernized and sophisticated styling of the original Hyperdunk when you look at it iconically. That all goes back to the Mag too.

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NDP: The shoe is really bold in the way it can be blocked, and the NIKEiD options on it are really cool in how versatile it can be blocked.

LC: Yeah, and I had a lot of fun on there! I went a little crazy and got like three colorways on iD. I thought they did a good job of letting you call out those blocks really boldly.

NDP: It’s real good. Did you have specific ways to block it in mind when you were designing it, or were there some alternate blocks along the way that you were toying with?

HD Paul George IGLC: I wanted to create options, since the Hyperdunk is such a universal shoe. I think it needed to adapt. Sometimes, I love to see the whole triangle wedge plus the heel part blocked as one. And other times I think it’s cool when just the triangle alone is. Or you could also do the heel and triangle in colors separately. You could have those options and that can help to extend the life of it. It was always about keeping the toolbox open.

NDP: I haven’t played in these yet, but I’m real excited to. It seems like a “Best Practices” Hyperdunk to me combining the best of all of the models through the years. You’ve got the protective top line, the clean upper, herringbone traction and you brought Zoom Air back into the fold. I’m definitely most excited about that. The last Hyperdunk to have Zoom was also the last one you designed. Why’d you decide to bring it back after the shoe featured Lunar for three years in a row?

LC: From a performance standpoint, it was kind of a reset. I wasn’t in love with Lunar. Most people were neither here nor there with it, in terms of players. They couldn’t really feel the difference of it, and over time, it just didn’t evolve enough for me. I just felt like it got more vanilla over time, and I want there to be a feel of something. The responsiveness of Zoom is something that basketball players love all around. To bring that back into the shoe was, I think, a no brainer. That doesn’t mean we’re off of Lunar altogether, but I think when we get the right formulation of that, we’ll use it again. It just felt like the right time to get away from it.

NDP: Other than being used in the insole of the Kobes, is it not in the line otherwise as an embedded unit for this upcoming season?

LC: It works great as a drop-in configuration on the Kobes, and it’ll be around. For me, Zoom is a great basketball technology though.

Zoom Air BagsNDP: For the separate heel and forefoot Zoom units here, are they a 14 and 8 mm size, or what are they?

LC: Yeah, it’s exactly that.

NDP: With the shoe being such a universal shoe for players of all sizes, what kind of feedback have you been getting from all of the guys that’ve been playing in it?

LC: There’s a few things on the tooling that we did after hearing feedback from the past. One, is we switched to Zoom, as I mentioned, which is a step towards where we were in the ’11 and is great to get that responsiveness back. Another thing is we used a Phylite midsole, similar to the HyperRev, and on the lateral side it wraps over the outsole.

The reason why we did that is because the Hyperdunk is such a big team shoe, and durability was something that was important. We wanted to make sure it was fairly bullet proof. Typically, what we see from our college players and elite players who are doing two-a-days and just going so hard, is that on the lateral side, the outsole rubber wrap can peel out. When you look at all of the defectives that we get back, the common area for issues is on the rubber wraps through the forefoot on the lateral side. Most consumers who aren’t at that elite college level don’t ever experience that. Fa15_BB_HD15_749561-100_B_native_1200

NDP: Yeah, I’ve never quite had a peel out [laughs], but I’ve got a friend with a 40” inch vert that’s crazy explosive and it’s happened to him a few times.

LC: Some guys will just shred their shoes, so that was an area to look at. We wanted to bring in a foam that was ground-contactable, like a Phylite material, and wrap the outsole on the lateral side to protect it, so that you’d eliminate some of the delamming that would happen with rubber. It makes it more durable, and more flexible.

NDP: When the first Hyperdunk was launched, it was always bounced around between Vectran, Kevlar and ultimately Nylon for the Flywire strand material. What are you guys using here?

LC: The original one used a poly-based core, and we ended up using the Kevlar in the 2011 Elite, which reduced the stretch even more, which was great.

NDP: Man, that’s the best playing shoe of the last five years for me.

LC: Yeah, that was a great shoe. The 2015 edition now has a little bit of a wider cable in it, it’s about a 2 mm width, and we’re using less cables, but each one is a little wider and tougher. We sandwiched it between bonded mesh layers so that you get that feel of it conforming better, and it’s less boardy than synthetics. We just wanted the shoe to have that natural feel and also be contained around that.

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image above courtesy Jeremy Rincon

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Jon Warren Joins Herschel Supply Co. as the Brand’s New Design Director

Jon Warren (a recent selection of the HYPEBEAST Hundred) has recently announced a new position at Herschel Supply Co. as the Canadian bag brand’s latest Design Director. After 12 years at Vans including his most recent role as head of Design Lifestyle for Vans, Warren will work closely with founders, Jamie and Lyndon Cormack and its Vancouver design team. Jon Warren gave the following statement to help set up some exciting times for the Canadian brand in the very near future.

“Jamie & Lyndon share the same D.I.Y. philosophy that I carry; I think it all comes from growing up doing what you love. Herschel Supply was something that they took on themselves and I’ve always respected the path they took. Working at Vans I had the ability to work and learn from some of the most talented designers, creatives, and business partners in the world. With Herschel I feel that I could bring my experience to the table and collaborate on future projects that allow us to push the brand in directions that only partnering with other like-minded creatives could offer. I am honored to be part of the Herschel family and look forward to all the creativity ahead.”


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