Revival art, as part of the creative process, is the restoration of conditions and the introduction of new considerations to better serve the material and its intended audience. In film, as in music, editing and arrangement often create a final product that resonates at a different frequency than the initial seed idea and countless subsequent drafts, even though the mission remains unchanged. Such is the case We cry togetherThe short film was directed by Kendrick Lamar, Dave Free and Jake Schrier and stars Taylor Paige as Lamar’s co-star.
“The unusual part about this joint is that it started with the movie first and the music — put it on the actual album — came later,” Lamar said. “The idea was always to capture this writing, not any song, [but] Writing and film and design and its photography to get the full experience.
At a private screening of the six-minute short on Tuesday, followed by a conversation moderated by Tessa Thompson, Lamar and Free discussed the choices that led to the final product and how a belief in collaboration allowed their multi-disciplinary collective to explore new creative territory. pgLang.
The song’s goal (read: the script) is ultimately to “address the kinds of things we’re ashamed of as a society,” Free said. The creative duo shared mood board quotes that helped shape the tone of the film (which Free described as “digestible but aggressive”), referencing scenes from Hype Williams’ “Belly” and Quentin Tarantino’s films, in order to create a scene that would become a hit. Every sensory stimulation.
“[We were like] Let’s find out the most intense moments with a lot of atmosphere in the room. And as we went through the process we started talking about what this movie should be,” Free continued. “We settled on a one-take format, which was basically dancing in a room. There were a lot of people in that room, even outside of Kendrick, dancing around to capture that. And Jake was a big help. He did some one-take work that we were really inspired by, so we had him. Asked to join us and we started putting the pieces together.
According to Free, the one-take film, recorded with all live audio before the pandemic lockdowns began in 2020, was created fluidly and organically by sharing voice notes, text messages and reference materials back and forth.
“I’ve always had faith in Dave, and in turn, to believe in all of our ideas as a collective. And I think the energy that we bring and the foundation that we’ve built has allowed us guys like Taylor and Jake to come in and say, ‘Okay, this is a group that I want to be a part of and not be restricted by the margins. What do people want?’ It’s okay to perceive,” Lamar said. Born-and-raised in Los Angeles, the two collaborators have known each other since Frei was in the ninth grade and have been able to navigate the industry while staying true to the intuitions that struck each other years ago.
“It’s the Holy Grail to create with Kendrick,” Free said. “I knew this super young because we’d have conversations like, ‘Why do we think this way?’ … We weren’t really ready to be ourselves. But I was able to be myself with him and talk to him about these quirky ideas.
At one point, Thompson directs the audience’s attention to the final scene, which zooms out of the room that serves as a container for the dialogue and reveals the production beyond. “You see this house, it feels very lived-in. To me, it felt this way to say that there are these layers of acting — especially within the characters that we play, as a couple, as women, as men,” she said.
“Ultimately, the point is, [we wanted to show] People that we can actually identify with, not just from our culture but from cultures around the world,” Lamar responded. “I think we all have guys out there — whether it’s their surroundings or their mindset that puts them in that environment that they feel like they can’t find a deal with. So the environment played a big role, which we definitely wanted to bring to life with the script. It’s as important as the people actually dishing out the insults. .
Beyond the song’s setting, the film’s dialogue is an equally nuanced landscape — familiar, yet bewildering. “The main trigger for writing The Conversation was basically the state of the world in the last five years for me and seeing my frustration with how no one and none of our cultures or belief systems could come to terms,” Lamar said. “So, in writing, I say, ‘Okay, how can I feel this personally but hold up a mirror as a collective concept rather than just an individual concept? I want to do it with all the emotions involved… I want to bring that drama, because at the end of the day, let us like it. Or not, the good, the bad and the ugly, the pros and cons, it all evolves. Being able to put it in our face allows us to acknowledge it, to evolve as humanity.
Lamar spoke about how Free’s belief in the process of capturing film in one take challenged him to live what he wrote and to be present with his co-star Paige in the raw energy and passion of the scene.
“Vulnerability has always been my ultimate goal as an artist. I think from the moment I picked up a pen and started writing in general, it was always going to this moment, because it was a moment I was always afraid of as a young person,” Lamar said. “It gave me more freedom as a person, to run towards my fear. And being able to say the things I want to say and do it in an artistic way. It allowed me to live my truth more deeply. This vulnerability gives people a feeling that they can really feel and feel and really gravitate towards. Whether they agree with it or not, they still feel it and know it comes from a real place as a human being.
The energy regained by Lamar and Frei’s concept has opened up a whole new world of ideas for the pgLang team – and projects they will release in the future.
“It sparked a lot of other ideas for us. And now we’re pursuing more things in space,” Frei said. “It’s a piece that feels like a marriage of the world we’re coming to and the world we’re going to.”