Posts Tagged ‘Thanks’

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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THANKS: Nice Kicks Staff Named To Complex’s “Most Influential Of 2015” List.

words // Matt Halfhill:

What a year 2015 has been.

I could not be more proud to have myself, George Kiel III and Nick DePaula all included on Complex’s “Most Influential People In Sneaker Media” feature.

The end of 2014 prepared us for the big comeback of 2015. With the editorial restrictions of being a retailer, we finally got our right to freedom of speech back when the retail arm of Nice Kicks was sold.  At last, we could bring all of you the news like we had from our beginning through the early part of 2012. It was great to be back to doing what we do best.

In October, I stepped back from being the Editor-in-Chief, handing those duties over to someone who could not be more deserving — George Kiel III. George has been rocking and rolling with the team since 2008, when we made our first round of hires to expand our team in the Austin area. While many thought I exited stage-left from the business, it couldn’t be further from the truth. I think anyone on the team could attest that I have never been more involved with the business, working behind the scenes on a number of things, including assembling a team of All-Stars with more combined experience in sneaker media than the age of Nike.

Early in the year, an industry veteran joined the squad to round out the roster, bringing with him a work ethic and creative ideas that top virtually anyone in the industry. Nick DePaula, for years, was the Editor-in-Chief at Sole Collector, making it so much of what it is today by laying the ground work of what sneaker media should be. Along with his industry insights and relationships with everyone in the business of footwear top-to-bottom, there are nothing but great things coming.

I recognize how hard it must have been for Nick Engvall, a Nice Kicks OG, to write the Complex list with the vast field of so many people in the sneaker media landscape who all bring something new and exciting to the business. Fifteen is a very short list for all of the great people out there, whether it be on YouTube, independent sites, Twitter, Instagram, and other spots on the web.

2015 has been a great year for all involved in sneaker media.

To be named one of the most influential people in sneaker media after 10 years of doing this business is a humbling honor. I can’t describe how great it feels to be named amongst a list of peers that I respect so highly. The list of individuals is a league of extraordinary individuals who have dedicated their lives and careers to bringing you news, opinions, and history of sneakers. They’ve all elevated our collective sneaker culture.

But without the entire Nice Kicks team, I highly doubt I would be named.  Every single person on our team brings their best day in and day out to make Nice Kicks what it is.

I would also like to shine light on one of the most influential people in this business that is an industry secret. My wife and co-founder, Allison Halfhill, must receive as equal praise as myself. She is the reason Nice Kicks is what it is today. She is the reason that “good enough” isn’t acceptable. Far beyond organizing and spearheading the On-Foot Look column of styling sneakers with fashion, she pushes everyone on the team forward and challenges all of us to bring our best. Whether it be a brainstorming session for content stories or managing relationships with advertisers, she is it.

For those who know me personally, my mind is always racing with new ideas. If it wasn’t for Allison, nothing would ever be filtered through or executed. Period.

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Nice Kicks and I personally can’t describe just how excited I am for our team and our fans. We have some incredible projects in the works. Incredible.

The entire year will be a busy one, but we owe it to all of you who have stuck with us through the years to make Nice Kicks what it is today.

Without you, the people, the readers, the fans, Nice Kicks Nation, YOU are the reason we are where we are.  Keep pushing us forward and expecting nothing but the best from myself and my team.

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Thanks for the memories, Phil. Remembering Philip Seymour…

Thanks for the memories, Phil.

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

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