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May 13, 2013

Film and Music Video Directors: Coodie & Chike

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Conformity: An action in which one redesigns their original perspective to settle for the acceptance and acknowledgement of mainstream consumerism.

An action in which creative individuals, oftentimes, oppose for the integral care of their art and that of storytelling from the soul.

Artistic integrity births innovative energy. That of which grants a trained eye the skill to document society through the viewfinder of the streets and their subjects while discovering and unfolding an unsought gem in the midst. It’s an unnerving tapping of the intellect and creative mind that something, other than what the beginning plan was, is existing and soon before long will surface.

Through their company, Creative Control TV,  based out of New York, film and music video directors Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah are working to be that force that brings authentic, yet, a broadened perspective of storytelling to the forefront in African –American film.

“Coodie and I, our goal has always been to broaden that horizon and tell more out the box stories that are still culturally relevant but transcends past the culture – bring more awareness and even more respect to the culture,” informs Chike.

Their vision and extensive catalogue range from music videos for Christina Aguilera, Erykah Badu (“Window Seat” ring a bell!?), Kanye West, Joey Badass, to name a few; experimental shorts one in which features Ford Model Chanel Iman, and a growing repertoire in documentary film with the success of 2012’s Benji – a documentary based on the rise of Chicago Basketball athlete Ben Wilson and his untimely and tragic death in 1984. The documentary was part of ESPN’s “30-for-30” programming and landed a premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. (Follow the “Benji” link for full documentary).

Coodie and Chike’s online network, creativecontrol.tv, immediately engages its visitor with snippets of projects that take you through the streets of New York, performances and a cultural dialect around the world.

“We’re steadily building up our online network. Our content spans across various mediums– music, art, fashion and things that we’re passionate about,” explains Chike. “Our goal is to showcase those mediums and put a progressive spin on those areas.”

Studying their works, you can’t help but feel a certain way while partaking in their visions. The shooting style is raw and gritty in texture – rarely steady but pulling you in and managing to capture the necessities while offering dialogue, verbally and non. They are storytellers with an edge.

“Storytelling, I feel like, since the beginning of time has always been our way of communicating as a culture, especially through the hardships,” says Chike. “The thing about it though, is pushing that even further and starting to broaden the types of stories that are told.”

A Story and A Dream:

Directors Coodie (right) and Chike, Tribeca Film Festival
Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

In their journey to redefine ‘urban’, a term they collectively view as “politically incorrect”, and showcase multi-cultural productions heavily influenced by Black culture, Coodie and Chike are also in the business of lending their talents to help visually articulate the dreams of others.

Recently, they partnered with American Family Insurance, Through A Black Lens, and the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) for the “Share Your Dream” contest highlighted on ThroughABlackLens.com. The contest requested individuals that are American Family Insurance consumers to submit a short video, photograph, or writing detailing their dream. The winning submission is currently being directed into a short film to be screened at the ABFF in Miami on June 21.

Leading up to the April 2, 2013 contest deadline, the directors participated in insightful roundtable discussions with actor/producer/directer,  Harry Lennix (The Five Heartbeats, ClockersLove & Basketball), actor Lamman Rucker (Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns, Why Did I Get Married ? films), and Lisa Michelle Payton, film writer/producer and educator, dialoguing about the future of film.

In the winner selection process, the judges were looking for something a bit atypical. Winner, Sean Jones delivered a refreshing storyline that san’d the norm.

“You kind of have those cliché subject matters, especially when it comes to short film,” acknowledges Chike. “I just think they have opportunities all the time to be told, so we were looking for that one that was just a little bit more … not as specific to what we see all the time.”

Coodie adds, “Doing it with American Family Insurance, we definitely thought that it was important to pick something positive. And the way we think as well, we want to put other messages out there that’s positive instead of all the negative messages about African Americans. That’s why we chose Sean. We felt that everyone could relate and that it could have a positive outcome.”

The filmmakers also wanted to have an open canvas for creation and to add their personal spin to the final outcome. Jones’ submission hit creatively and with a succinct message as it held a “twisted journey to self-discovery” theme.

“[It’s] a great platform for us to create and for what we believe will be a great short movie and message to people,” says Chike.

In the interim, the creators behind Creative Control are stirring up further projects to be released while also developing ways to tell stories and serve authentic portraits of their coming-of-age stomping grounds, Chicago (Coodie) and New Orleans (Chike).

 

“If you can see and believe, you will achieve. I do know that!”-Coodie
***
“Once you start putting motion toward achieving your dream then it will happen but you have to have faith in God. You’re going to go through so much in making those things happen, it’s more than just saying what you want. You have to take that step toward the direction you want.” – Chike

 

 



About the Author

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LaToya Cross
LaToya Cross is a graduate of Specs Howard School of Broadcast & Media Arts in Southfield, MI and earned her Bachelor's Degree in Magazine Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. She has been published in N'DIGO Magapaper, ndigo.com, Vocalo.org, Heed Magazine, AndWePresent.com, JET Magazine and JETMag.com. Her work as a writer and visionary engages arts & culture, education and philanthropy. In addition to being a journalism/communications professional, she works with and mentors youth as an After-School instructor with Orion's Mind and volunteers with Open Books Literacy Program.




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