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SxSW 2017 Interview: G-FUNK director Karam Gill

G-FUNK at SxSW 2017
by Jason Whyte

"G-FUNK is the story of the movement that commercialized hip-hop. It all started with Warren G, Snoop Dogg, and Nate Dogg, three childhood friends from the Eastside of the LBC, also known as Long Beach. The trio formed the group 213 and were eventually discovered by Deathrow Records and Dr. Dre, also Warren G's step brother. Deathrow went on to support only Nate and Snoop, and while the two rose to international stardom, Warren moved back to Long Beach with hopes of making it on his own. The film follows his rise and how G Funk changed hip-hop forever." Director Karam Gill on G-FUNK which screens at the 2017 South By Southwest Conference.

Great to see you joining the ranks of SxSW! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?

This is my first time at SXSW and actually my first feature film. I am definitely planning on attending all of my screenings and am excited to finally share this story with the world.

How did you get into the movies?

My father was a writer/director and from a very young age, I had always been fascinated by the world of filmmaking and storytelling. I'm actually 22 years old so this is pretty much my start. For the most part I have worked on digital content through 23FIFTN, a creative agency I co-founded in Los Angeles. Over the past year I have written, directed, and produced digital content with over 500 million online views and have been developing several documentary and scripted projects.

How did this project come together for you?

I met Warren G a little over two years ago when I was a still in college and began working with him on a variety of different projects. After a while we developed a friendship and he started telling me about his life, career, etc. I soon realized there was an incredibly fascinating story that has never been told and began writing down everything he would say. Soon after that, I presented Warren with this huge poster board that outlined the flow of the film and we decided to go full force to bring it to life. We then linked up with Gary Ousdahl and Rafael Chavez who introduced us to Bob Ruggeri the G-Funk team was born.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

I think it's purely passion. That's really what keeps me going because when you find a subject or project that really sparks your interest, you find yourself doing whatever it takes to bring that vision to life. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

So with that, what was your biggest challenge with making G-FUNK?

The biggest challenge was everything related to post-production. It all began last summer. My editor Andrew Primavera was still in college and I had just graduated so we were both living in Orange, CA right by Chapman University. We were both aged 21 & 22 at the time and didn't have any crazy editing setup so the film was literally cut off his super-modified laptop. To top it off, his A/C was broken so just imagine two guys crammed around a tiny laptop screen in the 100 degree heat of an already sweaty and gross college house. It was wild. Then once we picture locked and found out about SXSW it got even more crazy. Andrew, myself, and our colorist Kinan Chabani lived out of a tiny editing suite in Santa Monica for 7 straight days. By 'live' we actually slept there, ate there, and had toothbrushes, sleeping bags, etc. We probably got one to two hours a night and I unfortunately ended up falling asleep at the wheel on one of the days, and crashed into a parked car. When we hit finally hit export to finish the film, it might have been one of the most incredible and euphoric feelings of all time.[br]

I would love to know about the visual design of the movie and how you brought the look of the movie together.

The overall approach was to make the documentary feel like a traditional narrative film through the overall flow and reenactments. Cinematographer Ian Quill and I have worked on several projects together have a great relationship. We shot the interviews on SONY FS7 and the reenactments/aerials on a RED Epic. The lenses varied as well from basic Canon L series glass for the FS7 stuff and Cooke Panchros for the Red Epic stuff. The difference there was to use the softer Cooke Panchros to give those scenes a more aged feel.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

I am really excited to show the film at a festival that has such a love for music-driven projects. It's going to be awesome to screen it for a crowd that truly embraces that type of content.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?

I'm not exactly sure what the next move will be; we're waiting to hear back from a few but I believe right after this we are headed to a couple festivals in Calgary and Nashville.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

I would probably have to say AMC Woodland Hills. It may seem like a random choice, but throughout middle school & high school, my friends and I spent every weekend there sneaking from one movie into the next. It would just be an awesome feeling to have my own project screen there and go watch it with everyone I grew up with.

What would you say to someone who was being disruptive during a movie screening, even if it was one of your own?

Interesting question. I would probably just look at them and maybe ask them to be respectful. There's so much work that goes into every second that's onscreen and filmmakers hyper-analyze their projects to curate the perfect audience experience. When people do that they not only ruin that for themselves but distract and take away from the intended experience of everyone that's watching.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

Literally just do it, no excuses. Go out and figure it out. We're so fortunate to live in such a digital age so if you really want to be a filmmaker you can begin building your portfolio right away. Especially with how video is progressing on mobile phones, if you want to tell a story you are now more than able to in today's world.

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen?

I will go ahead and give my all time favorite movie which is CATCH ME IF YOU CAN by Steven Spielberg.

Be sure to follow G-FUNK online at!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2017. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2017 SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas taking place March 10-18. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 03/09/17 15:27:58
last updated: 03/09/17 15:32:11
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