NEW YORK -- It's mid-week at the Tribeca Film Festival. I'm sitting in a theater brimming with moviegoers, so packed that there's a line out the door of people hoping someone will give up their seat. No, it's not for a Scorsese premiere -- it's a screening for the Tribeca Film Fellows, a group of uber-talented high school and college-aged filmmakers hand-selected to write, produce and direct their own films. Their work debuted at the festival, and is as good as anything I've paid to see in theaters, if not, better.
Of the eight way impressive films that debuted this month, one really stood out to me. And by "stood out," I mean I was straight up cackling from beginning to end. "Young Flaccid Gonna Die" is about a cocky rapper named Young Flaccid, who is shot by a rival rapper and lives, only to find that his record label has decided to tell the world he's dead in order to make more money on his album sales.
With clever writing and a hilarious performance by Shepard McBurnie (slaying in the lead role), "Young Flaccid" turns a satirical mirror to the hip-hop industry and pop culture in general -- and its writer, directors, and co-producers haven't even graduated college yet. MTV News caught up with the filmmakers this week to talk about how the movie made it from script to screen.
A lifelong hip-hop fan, director and NYU Tisch student Johnny Bauers told me he used to write joke raps. When he was 18, he started writing "Young Flaccid"; it took him two years to see it materialize into a film.
His inspiration? "I was actually visited by the ghost of 2Pac," Bauers joked.
"I saw a lot of what was going on in the entertainment industry -- things that I thought were silly, which then translates into satire when you put it in a film," said Johnny, "there’s a lot of fake rappers out there."
David Woon, who is currently a student at the University of Southern California and co-produced/co-directed the film, elaborated on the film's ambitions. "The film makes a good commentary on the death of Biggie and 2Pac and how their record labels managed to make money off of them too," Woon said.
They're on to something, for sure. Biggie's "Life After Death," which was released posthumously, peaked at #1 on the Billboard albums chart and sold over 10 million copies. Does death sell, and if so, isn't that kind of creepy?
To loosely paraphrase Winston Churchill, who was most definitely not a rapper, jokes can be really effective tools to discuss really serious things. That's exactly what Johnny and David have done so well with "Young Flaccid." And that's likely why it won the well-deserved award for creative excellence from the Tribeca Film Institute.
Congrats to Johnny, David and the cast and crew of "Young Flaccid." We'll be keeping tabs on all of their future projects. In the meantime, I'm off to bump "Hypnotize" for the rest of the day.