Brooklyn Nets Q&A for WK.com
Creative Team: Nik, Nell, Blair, Matt, Alex, Kevin and Kareem
Q: What did the Nets ask for when they came to us?
A: We pitched and won the opportunity to help the Brooklyn Nets celebrate their 10th year in Brooklyn with an anthem film concept and theme for the year.
Q: How’d you guys come up with this idea?
A: Rather than simply use this moment to self-congratulate, we took a more communal path. One that began to demonstrate that this team isn’t just located in Brooklyn…it belongs to Brooklyn. We sought to set a stage for a critical coming-of-age moment, where the organization could begin to act less like a transplant and more like a permanent resident. (With a more knowing confidence and connection to their home.)
Q: Who is the intended target audience?
A: Brooklyn Nets fans near and far. It’s a love letter to Brooklyn.
Q: How did you select the kids that were featured in the film?
A: Most of our kids were selected through Brooklyn Nets organizations, but we also did an open casting call. We wanted to make sure we found kids who are Nets fans, of course, but who are also of a certain age. In total, we ended up with 20 kids.
Q: Did the kids actually say those things, or were they scripted?
A: One of the hardest parts of this project was going into the shoot with almost no script at all. Usually in any production you have some level of comfort seeing words on a page and knowing what you’re about to get, but for this we went in with only a sheet of questions. We had an idea of what we wanted, but at the end of the day it all came down to the responses the kids gave us. In a way that was also the beauty of it, because as the shoot’s not scripted, we’d be much more likely to get to a place that didn’t feel manufactured for a commercial. We also knew that it might be hard if you’re a kid to answer questions on camera with all the lights and an entire production crew in front of you, so we made sure going into it that our questions were prescriptive enough to get poignant responses, but also provided enough room for the kids to improvise and be descriptive about their lives in Brooklyn. This allowed them to give thoughtful responses, as well as ad-lib, so that it would feel more natural and conversational.
Q: Why did we choose to do the spot completely in black & white?
A: The look of the film was something we felt really strongly about. For us, making this film black- and-white made it feel timeless and gave a certain reverence to the words of the kids being filmed. It’s rare that you get the opportunity to shoot something that is intentionally black-and- white, but for this it felt necessary.
Q: Can you speak to the specific locations that were featured in the film? How and why were each of them selected?
A: Since there are 77 different neighborhoods within Brooklyn we knew we weren’t going to be
able to shoot absolutely everywhere, so instead we picked specific neighborhoods that felt like
they had a universal nature to them and could speak to Brooklyn as a whole. In these specific
neighborhoods we shot in parks, street corners, pizza shops, bodegas, back allies, and
everywhere in between with the goal of portraying universal experiences a Brooklynite
might have on a normal day.
Q: Can you talk more about the decision to feature such little Nets branding in the film?
A: From the very beginning of this project we knew that we wanted to make this feel like a love letter to Brooklyn instead of an ad. Something that could feel representative of the borough along with its team. Once we established this idea, every decision we made was in service of it. We wanted there to be subtle branding throughout the film that tied back to the team, but we knew that if it was too heavy-handed it might be distracting and become more ad-like.
Q: What was it like working with director Andre Wagner? How was he selected to direct the film?
A: All of us have been huge fans of Andre and had been wanting to work with him for such a long time. Early on, his body of work became our North Star of what we wanted to capture and how we wanted to capture it, so it was a real treat to actually have him on this project. The ethos of his work felt so representative of Brooklyn and its people and captured them in a way that felt observational instead of manufactured, which to us, was one of the most important aspects of the film.
Q: Any behind-the-scenes anecdotes you’d like to share? Anything interesting on set that happened?
A: Throughout the film it was amazing to just be on set in different neighborhoods and listen to the conversation of these kids and to hear their perspective on all things Brooklyn. Since the kids were from different areas across the borough, we got all sorts of responses from them. Things like what they would want to change about Brooklyn if they were President, the traffic, loud music, trash on the street…all the way to things they loved like where their favorite slice is, block parties, and what the future of Brooklyn holds. There was actually one girl in the film, whose name is Lulu, who told us about an invention she had called Hamster Shoes (no that’s not a typo) and for the rest of the production we tried to figure out if the invention was shoes for hamsters or shoes that looked like hamsters. We never fully settled it.
Q: What was your favorite part of working on this project?
A: The Nets' willingness to trust the process, and focus on culture vs. just Nets basketball. (Zack Green)
Creatively taking the work deeper than a basketball montage and capturing the heart of Brooklyn through the eyes of a Brooklynite. (Alex Doomany)
A: How everyone involved (the clients, the directors, the producers, the editor, the colorist, the composer, etc.) had a shared belief in how special this piece could be, and felt that we owed it to these kids to make something wonderful together. Feeling hopeful about the future after talking to these 10-year-olds, wise beyond their years. (Nell Stevens)
A: Working with an amazing group of people who brought this idea to life. I believed we inspired the next generation of ballers, Brooklyn and beyond. We introduced the world that Brooklyn isn't just a place, but a people that loves their hometown heroes that represent them on the court. That idea brought this WKNY team together, with love and passion for this beautiful borough. (Kevin Cabanayan)
A: Being a fly on the wall in the meetings with Andre Wagner + Melina Matsoukas. Mind blowing. (Kareem Adeniran)
Q: What are you hoping fans/viewers take away from this film?
A: When fans see this film, we want them to feel a sense of pride. We want them to see their shared experience in Brooklyn through the words of these kids. And that when you root for the Brooklyn Nets, you’re rooting for the whole borough and its future.