In Conversation with Coodie & Chike: The Celebrated Director Duo on Authentic Storytelling & Their New Documentary About the Life of Stephon Marbury
We chat with Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah on their diverse backgrounds and how they impact the purpose of their mission.
Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah are an oasis of calm in the intense energy of the Tribeca Film Festival. Simmons, a veteran comedian who hails from Chicago, effortlessly works comic relief into conversation. Ozah, a motion graphics designer born to a Nigerian father and a New Orleans-native mother, breaks down and makes sense of the purpose behind the work they've produced over the past 15 years. As we talk, it's clear you can't have one without the other.
You might be familiar with Coodie & Chike, as they're known, through Kanye West's iconic music video for 2004's "Through The Wire"—where the pair incorporated documentary footage they captured of West with mixed media elements. They eventually transitioned into producing impactful documentaries under their production company Creative Control, including the critically acclaimed ESPN 30 for 30, Benji and BET's Muhammed Ali: The People's Champ, which took home the 2016 NAACP Image Award for 'Best Television Documentary.'
Coodie & Chike's latest came from an unexpected opportunity—to direct and write A Kid From Coney Island—a documentary on NBA notable Stephon Marbury. They say it came to be after an initial reach-out from Emmy Award-winning broadcast news and documentary producer Jason Samuels. At first, they were hesitant to hop on the project due to their preconceived notions about Marbury that the media at the time perpetuated before the star left the NBA to play professionally in China. Once they learned that Nina Yang Bongiovi and her producing partner Forest Whitaker were involved, there had to be an amazing story ahead of them.
A Kid From Coney Island is a raw account of Marbury's life and career. You see and hear from Marbury himself in the film through Coodie & Chike quintessential use of archival footage from his past to the present. The duo was also able to tap his family, former teammates, community tastemakers and hip hop icons—who genuinely encapsulated Marbury's impact on the world.
In our conversation below, we learn more about challenges the duo faced while making the documentary, how their diverse backgrounds impact the purpose of what they do and more.
This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.