Tribeca Film Festival '15: "Live Fast Draw Yung", a Missed Opportunity

Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

One short film that came out of Tribeca this year that I couldn’t shake was “Live Fast Draw Yung”. The film stars Yung Lenox, a 7 (now 8) year old hip hop portraitist who, thanks to his father’s aid, has risen to notoriety in certain hip hop circles. It played as a part of the Be Yourself shorts screenings. The irony is that Yung Lenox isn’t a hip hop lover by choice and inspiration, but by his father’s influence. 

While the film displays Lenox’s talent and artwork, it’s not from his perspective. Instead, it’s entirely narrated by his father, Skip Class. The moment a filmmaker picks up a camera, they’re going to shape a story. The story directors Stacy Lee and Anthony Mathile created could have been shaped by Lenox, or shaped in a way that shows his passion for hip hop and his craft but it wasn’t. “Live Fast Draw Yung” has a punk feel with a hip hop twist and a cute kid at the center of it. So if you get swept away in the smoke and mirrors of it, you may miss the fact that Lenox is just a kid in a world created by his father. 

Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

So why did the film stick with me? As a hip hop lover, it was evident to me that the drawings Lenox creates could only come from a hip hop lover of a certain age. Lenox isn’t old enough to know some of those classics, so he was pointed in the right direction. No matter how many photo ops Lenox has with rap stars, how the film is shot  in a hip hop style, or clothes he wears, Lenox isn’t hip hop. His father loves hip hop and he found a great way to turn a business out of his son’s passion for drawing. Sadly, in its attempt to pose as a film about a phenomenal, young hip hop portraitist, it actually misses the opportunity to tell the story of one of the biggest love letters from father to son.    

The apparent thread throughout the film is that Skip loves and adores his son. A chance instagram share of his son’s artwork turned into a business opportunity for the two to work together in a way any good father would love to do. Their collaboration has become so successful that there is now a short documentary focused on them opening at Tribeca! It's one father's love that made dreams come true. That’s something special, and the real story to be told. As a hip hop lover I squirm seeing the spin put on Lenox’s “talent” as hip hop’s Carvaggio, because he's actually just a kid drawing the pictures he's been told to draw. As a father I totally get the love that has propelled Skip to put his son out there, and try to instill lessons of confidence, business and hard work. The film is polarizing, but the message is mixed...or should I say missed? Sometimes even a film should dig deep and “Be Yourself”. 

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.