DXnext: Motion Family
The highly creative film crew explains the real life depictions in Yelawolf's "Pop That Trunk," getting on with Atlantic Records, and casting Pill in their short feature "Pretty Happy."
Since 2007, Motion Family has been the driving force behind the pairing of the grittiest visuals against the grittiest verses in the South. The faction of three, Diwang Valdez, David KA, and Sebastian (C-Bass) Urrea, have been working together, creating documentary-style images that remain true to the artist, the song, and their own creativity. Never shying away from authenticity for the sake of mainstream kudos, these three have filmed everything from Atlanta addicts hitting crack pipes to brandished shotguns in Alabama shadows.
The three-man crew has also taken their visionary movement to the next level with their first short film, Pretty Happy, featuring rapper/budding thespian Pill. The short debuted at the 48-Hour Film Festival in Atlanta and will be available online in the coming months.
DX was able to speak with two of the three partners, David KA and C-Bass about realizing their artistry, moving into film-making and pulling dope imagery from the mind’s darkest corners.
On Claiming the ‘Artist’ Title: David KA revealed, "I’ve been an artist since middle school. I’ve always been interested in urban arts, painting… I didn’t really know what I wanted to do once I got to college, but I ended up going to art school [Savannah College of Art and Design] to study graphic design and eventually I got interested in music videos through my roommate Sebastian, who’s my business partner." C-Bass added, "For me, I have a lot of artists in my family, so just growing up, my dad and my uncles were all artists. I was always drawing, probably since I was like five or six years old. I started looking at art colleges too, based on these drawings that I had. I went in for graphic design and just ended up switching my major to film and video."
Motion Family Tree: David KA explained, "Well, we were all in college at the time. Originally, there were about four or five of us- we were all studying different fields. C-Bass was doing video, I was doing graphic, and we had a photographer and a motion graphics person. We all just thought, ‘Yeah, we can do this shit. We can make dope work.’ We’d formed Motion Family when we were juniors and seniors in college and once we graduated, people sort of went off their own ways. And it was me and C-Bass, like, ‘Let’s just do it. Let’s finish our idea.’ We just concentrated on video and that was it."
Bringing Diwang In: David KA said, "I met Diwang [Valdez], when we were at Dapper [Grand Hustle Records manager Jason Geter’s print effort], and we were just designers, but he’s been working in the industry forever. His art is amazing so we just linked up. He worked at a coffee shop right next to my house, so we just started chilling. We respected each other’s work. He was always interested in video too."
On Motion Family’s Signature: David KA stated, "I’d say it’s just a documentary style that we had when we started working…" C-Bass chimed in, "And also, all that, but also the three different point-of-views of me, David, and Diwang, it just collectively comes together as this awesome work and I think it has to do with everything we really like and how we want the picture to look. Just all of us together, we are Motion Family but all of us together is what makes it that much better, makes it our signature look, you know?"
The Big Break: David KA recalled, "Diwang and I had started going to networking events and we ended up networking at Atlantic Records and caught the attention of some people up there…C-Bass clarified that it was Moses David and Yancey Richardson. David continued, "Yancey believed in us. We just showed him the work and he showed our work around and that’s how we got our first [visual] with Yung Joc. They sat on that for eight months though. We used to walk around with our iPhones with all these other videos- some of our real videos of not really anybody- on our phones, and we’d just show ‘em to everybody and that’s how we met people and got introduced to people. From there, we got introduced to Lil Boosie. We showed him the Joc video then he was interested in doing a video with us. It’s actually kinda random how we got introduced to Pill, it had nothing to do with any of that. We’d done an independent video before that with our buddy, Justin KA, in Atlanta and they recommended us to Pill’s manager at the time, Derek. And that’s how we did the Pill video [‘Trap Goin’ Ham’].
The Details Behind Making The Video: David KA revealed, "We try to do a one day shoot. Sometimes, it takes a day-and-a-half, two at most. But usually just a one day shoot. We try to get up somewhat early and shoot all night. ‘Pop the Trunk,’ we did in one day; we drove to Alabama, shot it and came back that next day. ‘Trap Goin’ Ham,’ we shot…" C-Bass finished, "...In one afternoon, really."
On the Birth of Ideas: C-Bass stated, Usually, we just meet with the artist and discuss any ideas that the artist, their management or their team might have. And then just between us, we listen to the song and try to develop any ideas and move into that, and if they have any ideas then we just go in a direction and come with a treatment at that point."
On The Level of Insanity That Is Yelawolf’s ‘Pop the Trunk’: David KA said, "Originally, when we first heard the song, we knew it should just be some real dark, crazy, crazy shit. And then we met with Yelawolf and they were like, ‘We know the dark stuff you wanna do and we want to tailor more with the stuff he’s talking about…’ His wife, she kinda produced it. We just sent her a list, we’d never been to Alabama, so we just sent her a list of what we’d heard in the song and all the things that we wanted to include in there and she killed it. We showed up and she had his parents dressed up in the outfits and she had the hog and all that." C-Bass elaborated, "I remember when we met with Yelawolf and I said he wanted some Rob Zombie type of stuff, you know? And when I said that he was like, ‘Exactly. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Just some crazy…’ We knew the look that he wanted and we kept it authentic to Yelawolf. We used his parents and their house and the elements that were available to us, and we just kept it our documentary-style. We just documented what we saw, you know? For them to put those locations together, it was really helpful."
Moving into Film-Making: David KA said, "Well, the music videos are made in like a day. It’s a real fast process; it’s hectic and a lot more stressful. With a short or a documentary, you can spend a little bit more time on it- ideally- and put it together. It’s kinda cool to do music videos. It’s fun but at the same time I like getting to sit down and spend time on a project. Music videos are a week-long process. Like, you find out you have a music video, you’re lucky if you have a week span. You go from getting the idea or the concept to [short shoots]. Then getting everything, shooting and everything in almost a week. It’s a very crazy process, that’s why sometimes… You get good videos, you get bad videos, with the longer projects, the shorts… The 48 Hour Film Project was different because it was like a music video, you know? But we look forward to having time and shooting something, until we get it right. Ideally, we wanna have time to shoot something and shoot until it’s perfect."
On Pretty Happy: David KA explained, "We happened to get a crappy subject: Romance - but we wanted to shoot something dark." C-Bass added, "Dave had in mind to pick Pill, so in picking him, we knew that we wanted to stay in our comfort zone as far as what we wanted to do so when we got the topic, we just tried to be as creative as we could and try to put a twist and spin on things and try and make it interesting, still keeping it clean and our style."
David KA continued, "We know Pill and we know he’s acted before, so it was just like, ‘Let’s get Pill.’ He was the only actor we know that’s around [Laughs] We’re tweaking it. But it was a cool project that definitely opened the door for us and showed us, ‘Shit. If we could do that in 24 hours, imagine what we could do if we put some more time into something.’ It shows what we can do, and it shows the capabilities. There’s so much more out there and it just makes you want to spend more time on a project and get some crazy shit, you know? Not a 4 or 5 minute piece, but to shoot something that’s just dope that we put a lot of time into."