It’s not where you start, it’s where you stop. In 2022, the duo Coodie & Chike continue to prove the value of consistency and authenticity in filmmaking. This year marks twenty years since the creative duo’s paths first crossed, and right now it feels like they’re really stepping into their moment — especially with the success of their controversial Netflix documentary. jeen-yuhs.
They have spent two decades telling stories supported by their own production company, CreativeControl.TV, spanning a wide range of projects across film, television, digital and tech, but maintaining a soulful, authentic thread throughout. They have delivered strong documentaries like Benji, Muhammad Ali: The People’s Championand have been on hand to capture the soul of musical artists like Erkyah Badu, Wale, Mos Def, Gil Scott-Heron and others with one mission in mind – to tell stories from the heart.
Coodie & Chike are visionaries in the truest sense of the word.
Coodie & Chike on working as a duo:
Coupon: “You always have someone to talk to. Yes, we are business partners, but first we are friends. You know you always have someone to share memories with. What feels like work for most feels like vacation for us. We work and we begin to enjoy each other’s company. Besides, two heads are always better than one.”
Chike: “We also benefit from using each other’s strengths, which limits the exposure of our weaker areas. Where one of us has a weakness, he has a strength. We really have to rely on learning and respecting each other’s strengths and being honest with ourselves about areas where we might not be that strong.”
Coodie & Chike on their philosophy of filmmaking:
Chike: “Don’t force anything. Everything must be pure, organic and natural. My process begins as an observer. I observe everything and unconsciously allow my mind to process my observations and take notes. I’ve taken a lot of time to build what I consider my style. I’ve cataloged a lot mentally over the years. During the early parts of my career, I would identify the things that I love. I kept ripping things out of magazines and books. I kept journals about things I liked to help define my style. I also get inspiration from art, photography and drawings. I can imagine a whole story centered around a still moment.”
Coupon: “My primary philosophy is letting go and letting God. Sometimes ideas don’t come the way you think they would. Although it’s not what you want when the idea arises, God is creating something greater than you could have imagined. So if you let go, listen, and pay attention to the true Creator who is God, you can do great work.”
On the importance of presenting black stories in her work:
Chike: “Very important! Presenting the nuances of black culture is a priority. Let’s use these stories as tools, let’s create empathy. If you don’t know something, you will reject it. People don’t like other cultures because they are uninformed “We use our work to inform. The more you know about me and the nuances of my culture, the more you will care and want less harm done to my culture. Participating in these cultural conversations creates vulnerable space and encourages growth When you cultivate this vulnerability with one another, you are less likely to want to hurt that opposing person, which creates empathy.
Coupon: “And, I mean, it’s important because it’s the only thing I can identify with because I’m black (laughs). In Hollywood, many authors do not live our culture. Telling our stories is important to us because we relate to each other on a whole different level.”
Best filmmaking advice they’ve received:
Chike: “Show and prove on a small scale that you can do what you are trying to do on a large scale. Hearing that enabled us to do things small and built the confidence to tackle more ambitious projects large.”
Coupon: “Mine was from Napoleon Hill. ‘If you can get pregnant and believe in it, you can achieve it.’”
Coodie & Chike’s Favorite Canon Product:
Coupon: “It’s all in stages. My first was the GL1 & 2, GL1 and the XL1 was my choice. After that it was the Canon EOS 5D.”
Chike: “The product that impressed us the most was the EOS 5D Mark II. Its versatility, price and accessibility have allowed us to spread our vision and message in a way that we can control. It didn’t grab us. We didn’t have to wait for a budget or resources.”