“Kicks” director Justin Tipping was inspired to make his new film after his own personal run-in as a teenager with a gang of violent kids who were trying to steal his prized sneakers.
“I was jumped, beaten and stomped out by like 10 kids,” Tipping told TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell of his directorial debut. “I was singled out in a parking lot because I was wearing a pair of Nikes.”
“Kicks” tells the story of 15-year-old Brandon (Jahking Guillory), whose dream it is to own a pair of Air Jordans. But when he gets them, they are stolen by a local thug, so Brandon and his two friends go on a mission through Oakland, California, to get his treasured sneakers back.
The Focus World film also stars Christopher Jordan Wallace, Christopher Meyer, Kofi Siriboe, Mahershala Ali and Molly Shaiken, and was co-written by Joshua Beirne-Golden.
Although the director said his teenage years growing up in the Bay Area of Northern California is what inspired the plot, the driving force behind the film is traced back to that specific time in his life and its emotional repercussions.
However, it wasn’t the beating that had Tipping conflicted, but rather when his brother tried to console him. “‘It’s OK, you’re a man now,'” Tipping’s brother told him.
“In retrospect, looking back on … it’s like why is the idea of masculinity always synonymous with violence?” Tipping asked, feeling a mixture of pride and sadness. “Why is there this social construct of this one idea that ‘you’ve got to man up’ means a certain thing?”
Watch the video above to learn more.
“Kicks” lands in theaters Sept. 9.