THE COME UP

THE COME UP | VEUXDO CHILD FILMS

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I cannot give you an exact moment when to when I became familiar with Veuxdo Child, But I know that my friend Khamall had something to do with it. I believe I was at one of his super dope kickbacks when I had a conversation with someone and their name came up. The name “VEUXDO CHILD” was so interesting to me I wanted to know more. Fast forward to 2015, I finally had the chance learn about their influences, creative processes, and how the collective Veuxdo Child was born. Enjoy.

 

Tell us about the Veuxdo Child Collective. Was there a particular event or situation that inspired the creation of this collective?

“Veuxdo actually started as a magazine back in 2007. I was working with one other guy, but we had a difference of opinions in terms of what type of content we wanted to create. Lets just say I wanted to be intentional about what kind of energy I wanted to put out into the world.”

—Lala

How did the name Veuxdo Child come about and what does it represent?

Veux means “want,” do means “action.” If you want something, you have to take action. I wanted to create a space for POC voices to shine and for us to write our own lived histories, so I created Veuxdo as a platform for that. The namesake which Veuxdo gets its pronunciation, voodoo, is sometimes spelled “vous deux,” meaning “you too.” As people of color, we’re all in this together. Unified.

Originally, it was just “Veuxdo.” The “Child” came later, to refer to a lyric from Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile: “Well, I stand right next to a mountain, and chop it down with the edge of my hand— ‘cause I’m a voodoo chile.” 
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“Veuxdo Child represents that funk we all carry inherently within us as pigmented folx. We are powerful, resilient beings. We are the creators of culture. We got the juice.”

 —Lala

How did you all come together?

“I’ve known Yas for years. She is my sister. I love her. I met Karl in Brooklyn last year. He had reached out to me via instagram about showing some of my photography at his gallery back in Milwaukee, and when he made his way to Oakland, we linked and kept building. Jing and I actually met by way of an interview I did with BVAC, but we didn’t connect until Jing and Karl met by coincidence on a separate art tip. Atheel and I did an interview for one of her film projects, and after seeing her light shine at so many community events around the town, things just sort of clicked. After that, I think the energy just caught, and we’ve been building the cypher ever since.”

—Lala

Most memorable film/ event that you all created together?

“For me, it was the first screening of The Discourse at MOCO back in early 2014. It was a screening and collaboration with Hosted by the Homies (probably my favorite potluck ever, and one I organize regularly with Malidoma Collective and our extended fam). That was the first panel discussion I’d ever been on, and to share the screening of my first documentary about my friends, WITH my friends, and to see so many faces from folx I’d never even met before get stoked on something I worked so hard on… I was on top of the world that night, I could hardly stomach it. It was one of those moments where you take a deep breath and remember: THIS is why I create.” —Lala

Extra stuff/recaps about that night:

http://www.veuxdo.com/thescreening-discourse-hosted/

http://wineandbowties.com/art/enter-the-discourse/

“The most recent event we did with Blackbuster, A Night of Short Films About People of Color, was actually the first screening we’ve worked on as a crew. The panel was incredible, It’s awesome to have such intimate events where people actually feel comfortable to participate in conversation. That has to be one of the best qualities of VCF events: the good, quality, intimate conversation. I have to say, I’m very stoked on how things are flowin, and can’t wait to build more magic as a squad!” —Lala

 

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Is everything you film Bay Area Based?

“Veuxdo Child was born in The Bay, and we’re currently based in Oakland, so a lot of stuff we do definitely reflects that. The cypher is growing. As individual filmmakers, we come from all over.  I shot parts of The Discourse in Brooklyn, Harlem and Queens. Some of the folx we feature in our Building With series have been in Milwaukee and NYC. Queens did a few features (including one with MOCADA) while she was in Brooklyn.”

I know you all are big on community. Why is that?

“We see Veuxdo as community where we can celebrate ourselves, with each other. There aren’t a lot of Love-Spaces for POC only, so our community holds that space out of a need to survive and thrive together.” — Jing

Exactly. — Lala

Representation. Puttin’ a lens on, a microphone, a pen and pad to the collective voice of the people through the perspective of (QT)PoC is important in order to advocate for and create a visual narrative for those usually under and misrepresented. We out here makin’ sure stories are told for those without access to the resources needed to tell ‘em and prioritizing the audience often profited off of but rarely put first. — YW

 

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Any events or projects in the near future?

“We’re collaborating with Blackbuster to do a series of screenings featuring POC films. Our next one will be in early January at Suru. You can listen to our panel discussion from the last one here.”

“Currently, we’re working on the next installment of our The Discourse Continued series, titled Gentrifying the Town.”

As a collective, is there a topic or person that you would like to showcase?

There is no space in the media that celebrates personal uniqueness, and so that’s one of the things we’re really excited about. Just being ourselves, all the way, and celebrating that. As we grow, we want to focus on being a hub for POC creators in the Bay. We’re always looking to build and grow our cypher. If you, as the reader, can see yourselves thriving with us, shoot us a lil sumptin. We’re currently looking for writers and social media gurus. — Jing

Yes! Hit us up! veuxdochild@gmail.com. We hella nice. And we’re looking to build with POC creators from the Bay and beyond. I’ll be in Hawaii soon. Holla 🙂 — Lala

Keep up with all things VCF!

IG: instagram.com/veuxdochild

 

MEET THE VEUXDO TEAM 

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LALA OPENI

Give us a quick intro for those who don’t know.

I create because I have to, I’m ansty if I don’t. I’m a stubborn artist. A healer. An introvert. A dreamer. I do hella stuff; like Lauryn said: my resume is kinda thick, haha. I can’t see myself putting energy into something I don’t believe in. I guess that makes me a believer, too.

Life story in 30 seconds

5th generation Baylien born and raised. I’m a truthseeker; couldn’t lie if I tried.

What about the Bay Area inspires you?

The Bay is my home. My family, my culture, my people. My personal history (for this lifetime) has been written here. I love The Bay. I wouldn’t be who I am today if the bay hadn’t raised me. It’s like that Gucci meme, lol: When you conscious and spiritual, but you icy and you also a trap god.

What message are you trying to send when you make films?

I’m just trying to make what I feel needs to come out.

How did you get into filmmaking and Who are some of your influences?

Film for me was a sort of natural transition from film and motion graphics. It just made sense. I like to think of each medium as a paint brush; I use whichever one will produce the stroke needed to tell the story.

I’m influenced by the weather and by my surrounding environment. My other body is a Sponge.

Formally trained or self taught?

In college I studied Cultural Anthropology and Philosophy at Davis, and Motion Graphics, Digital Design and Film at AAU. I took a couple classes in video and film history, but most of what I’ve learned about making films was from just diving in and gettin my hands dirty.

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JING NIU

 Give us a quick intro for those who don’t know.

I’m an experimental documentarian who dabbles in 16mm, Super 8, hi8, 35mm and digital video. My most recent film Departing is an epic poem about growing up in take-out restaurants in the American South. I’m currently in the works on a film about an unknown Asian female explorer who lived a hundred years ago.

Life story in 30 seconds

I have traversed the Pacific Ocean over 6 times now splitting my life between the West and the East.

What is your creative process like? Do you have a special routine when creating films?

I have to journal almost everyday to log the thoughts swimming around in my brain. I have so many ideas about new film projects to start and ways to finish up current projects, it’s total chaos. My process is like a hella hectic kitchen where there are stews brewing, fish frying on a greasy pan, pastas boiling, and sauces being mixed left and right.

Besides your camera, what is an object that you need with you at all times?

Besides my camera, I always bring around my blue, fuzzy gloves with me. They bring a lot of comfort in times of distress. Plus they’ve got rainbow on the wrists.

What do you love about the Bay?

I love the folks that live in the Bay. I love hearing and collecting their stories. As an Asian-American who first entered the country via LaGuardia airport, I’m fascinated by the history of Asian migration to this area hundreds of years ago. The Chinese word for San Francisco is 旧金山 (Jiùjīnshān), which means “Old Gold Mountain”. I still get shivers every time I hear that name.

You say that you are an experimental documentarian. Describe that for us.

Experimental documentaries acknowledge that we all see the world in our own way, and opens up the possibility for one to paint the world in one’s own unique way.

Why do you choose to focus on immigration experiences in your films?

A lot of my films focus on immigrant narratives because that is my Truth, that’s been my experience here. By telling my stories, I hope to inspire other folx to share theirs as well because we need many, many stories to reflect our diverse experiences.

Keep up with my happenings at http://jingniu.tumblr.com/

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YAASMEEN WILLAMS

How long have you been writing?

I been writing since I learned how to. As a child in an abusive household, having a means of nonverbal communication was a way out.

Favorite piece of writing or favorite book?

I haven’t stopped thinkin’ about the first big girl novel I read called Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree. He’s an “urban” novelist and the content would probably be corny and problematic if I reread it today, but it was hella important for me to read a book with all Black characters and I really related to the main chick, so its stuck with me. Representation matters.

Tell us about a hidden talent that you have?

Yo! I’m hella flexible and double jointed! Gotta do sumn with that…

Describe your style in three words.

Courageous, reclaimed, refashioned.

Biggest fashion influence.

Not a person, but a time period – mid 1940’s to mid 1990’s. Being an “alternative”, brown pin up girl is tight. I’m really into integrating cultural influences into modernized, vintage styling.

What do you love about the Bay Area?

My lil family is here, but other than that, I LOVE leaving.

What inspires you to create film?

I’ve mostly been in front of the lens, but I still manage to be in front even when I’m behind it because I stay takin’ selfies. I’m realizin’ this is an important medium worth incorporating into my craft. It’s keepin’ up with the times, whatever that is, but mostly it’s a reflection of my relationship with myself. It’s revolutionary as hell to see brown, black, red, yellow girls be into ourselves and radical to make that self love a public display.

I’m revisiting nude self portraiture and plottin’ on film so I can start collaging and find out through organic process where that medium meets my writing.

Tell us about your roots and does it inspire what you create?

I’m Black, Mexican American, and Native (Navajo, Apache, Aztec, Blackfoot, Cherokee). Also got some Spaniard and Creole in me that I don’t claim because I wasn’t exposed to either cultures. I was raised almost equally between my three main heritages until my grandparents adopted me and I spent more time with my Indige-Latin side. Growing into my spiritual practices, I’ve adhered to those bloodlines since their lineages are more easily traceable as we are living on the land of both peoples.

There’s pressure to identify as the ethnicity the world sees you as; I’m wanting to rattle some cages and take a radical stance as an Afro-Indigenous wombman. Over the past few years, my search for and reappropriation of my blackness as a part of the African Diaspora has been apparent in a lot of my collaborative, visual work but more recently, I’ve sought to interpret the bridge where all three ethnicities meet.

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I know you all are big on community. Why is that?

 “Art is a window into culture. The people that the community is comprised of live vicariously through the various mediums of art that artists create, so I feel that it is adequate to create work that is provocative and inspires each individual member of the community to recognize the power of their voice.” 

– DeMareon

As a collective, is there a topic or person that you would like to showcase?

 Something I feel should be showcased is people of color existing. The countless tropes and stereotypes presented in mass media create a notion and narrative that implies that people of color don’t exist outside of these societal tropes or even have everyday lives. I feel like it would be beautiful to just capture us existing.           

– DeMareon

A HUGE thank you to Veuxdo Child for opening up for this feature. Make sure ya’ll are on the lookout for the next BLACKBUSTER Film Fest in January!

Peace & Love,

N&K

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