'Kicks' Writer-Director on Getting the East Bay on the Big Screen

"I think it was important to set it [in Oakland] because I don't think you see it very often on the screen," said director Justin Tipping of his feature.

Director Justin Tipping drew on his personal experience growing up in the East Bay when creating his new feature Kicks.

The film, which opened this year's Tribeca Film Festival, centers on 15-year-old Brandon, an outsider who believes his problems will be solved if he buys the latest pair of Air Jordans. But shortly after he gets the sneakers, they are stolen, and the rest of the film sees Brandon on a quest to get his kicks back.

"It is inspired by my teenage years, growing up in the East Bay area," said Tipping. "When you grow up there, it feels like the Bay Area raises you. It became a character in the movie."

Tipping co-wrote the feature with Joshua Beirne-Golden, whom he met while both were in the master's program at the American Film Institute. The two sat down with The Hollywood Reporter for a Facebook Live Q&A to discuss their project.

"We moved back into my parents' house for a few months before pre-production," said Tipping, who said the production would cast parts from the neighborhoods they were shooting in while on location in Oakland and Richmond.

Another East Bay expat is director Ryan Coogler, whose movie Fruitvale Station was the real-life story of Oakland resident Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by a BART police officer on New Year's Day.

Tipping said, "I think it was important to set [the film in Oakland] because I don't think you see it very often on the screen." 

Kicks started its limited release Sept. 9 in Los Angeles and New York. Watch the full Facebook Live Q&A here.