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Kendrick Lamar, Dave Free Discuss Process Behind ‘We Cry Together’

The art of revising, as part of the creative process, is to restore conditions and introduce new considerations to better serve the material and its intended audience. In film, as in music, editing and arranging often create an end product that resonates at a different frequency than an initial germ idea and the myriad concepts that follow, though the mission remains unchanged. That’s the case with We cry togetherthe short film directed by Kendrick Lamar, Dave Free and Jake Schreier and starring Taylour Paige as Lamar’s co-star.

“The crazy thing about this joint is that it started with the movie first and then the music – which was put on the actual album,” Lamar said. “The idea was always to record this writing, not no song, [but] the writing and the film and the texture and the cinematography of it to get the full experience out of it.

During 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 trusting collaboration allows them to explore new creative explore areas through their multidisciplinary collective pgLang.

Ultimately, the goal of the song (read: script) is to address topics that “we as a society kind of shy away from,” Free said. The creative duo shared references on mood boards that helped set the tone for the film (which Free described as “digestible but aggressive”), citing Hype Williams’ “Belly” and scenes from Quentin Tarantino’s films, to create a . to create an image that would impress. any sensory stimulus.

“[We were like] let’s find super intense moments that have a lot of atmosphere in the room. And as we went through the process, we started talking about how this should be a movie,” Free continued. “We chose a one-take format that was essentially a dance in the room. There were a lot of people in that room, even outside of Kendrick, dancing around trying to capture that. And Jake was a huge help. He did one-off work that we were really inspired by, so we asked him to join us, and we started putting the pieces together.

We cry together movie poster

According to Free, the one-take film, shot with all live audio just before the pandemic lockdowns began in 2020, was created fluidly and organically through a series of voice notes, text messages and back-and-forth sharing of reference material.

“I’ve always had faith in Dave, and vice versa, to trust all of our ideas as a collective. And I think the energy that we’re bringing, and the grassroots work that we’ve put forward, is what led individuals like Taylor and Jake to come and say, ‘Okay, this is a collective that I want to be a part of and not blocked be by the margins. from what people perceive is OK,” Lamar said. The two Los Angeles-born and raised associates have known each other since Free was in ninth grade and have been able to navigate the industry by staying true to the intuition that led them to each other years ago.

“It’s the holy grail of creating with Kendrick,” Free said. “I knew this super-young because we’d have conversations where we’d say, ‘Why do we think that way?’ … We weren’t even really ready to be ourselves, but I could be myself with him and talk to him about these quirky ideas.

At one point, Thompson turned the audience’s attention to the final scene, which zooms out from the room that serves as a container for the conversation, revealing the production set behind it. “You can see that this house that feels very inhabited is a set. To me it felt like it was this way of saying there are these layers of performance — especially within the roles that we play, as couples, as women, as men,” she said.

“Ultimately is the most important thing [we wanted to show] people we can really identify with, not just from our culture, but from cultures around the world,” Lamar replied. “I think we all have individuals who feel like they can’t find common ground – whether it’s their environment, or whether it’s their psyche that puts them in that environment. So the environment played a big role, something we definitely wanted to bring to life along with the script. It was just as important as the people spouting the insults.”

Kendrick llama

Kendrick Lamar

Daniel Garzon Herazo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Aside from the song’s setting, the film’s dialogue is an equally nuanced landscape – familiar, yet disorienting. “The main trigger for writing the dialogue for me was basically the state of the world over the past five years and seeing my frustrations with how no one, and none of our cultures or belief systems, can ever come to an agreement,” said Lamar. “So in writing I say, ‘OK, how can I make this feel personal, but also hold up a mirror as a collective concept, rather than just a personal concept? I wanted to do that with all the emotions involved… I wanted to bring that drama, because at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, the good, the bad, and the ugly, the pros and cons, that’s what makes everything evolve. By being able to face that, we can accept that so that we can evolve as humanity.

Lamar also spoke of how Free’s confidence in the process of capturing the film in one take challenged him to live what he had written and be present with his co-star Paige in the raw energy and passion of the scene.

“Vulnerability has always been my end goal as an artist. I think from the moment I picked up the pen and started writing in general, it was always to come to this moment because this was the moment I always dreaded as a youth,” Lamar said. “It gave me more freedom as a person, being able to run to my fear and say the things I want to say, and do it in an artistic way. It enabled me to live my truth even more deeply. This vulnerability gives emotion that people can really feel and experience and what they are really attracted to. Whether they agree or not, they still feel it and know it comes from a real place as a human being.”

The energy Lamar and Free got back from the concept has opened up a whole new world of ideas for the pgLang team – and the projects they will release in the future.

“It gave us many other ideas. And now we have a lot more things that we’re pursuing in space,” Free said. “This was a piece that felt like it was a marriage between the world we came from and the world we were going to enter.”

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