Wu Tang Clan – RZA gives SXSW keynote speech mapping out his road from film fan to hip hop to directing

Posted on 19 March 2015
By Pierce King
  • Share:

Wu Tang mastermind RZA took to the stage at SXSW and gave a keynote speech which detailed how his years of film fandom influenced his approach to production with the seminal hip-hop group.

His talk was often philosophical but the central plot was his “map” toward becoming a film-maker, which started when he saw Star Wars and the Michael Caine movie The Swarm, before he gravitated toward grindhouse flicks and kung-fu movies.

RZA aka Bobby Digital said those influences were the very foundations of the Wu-Tang Clan’s sound, which often sampled martial arts films such as the Shogun Assassin.

He said: “Those early films are my music.

“If you look at The Swarm – and the Wu-Tang are called the killer bees – you can see there was a subconsciousness of that film that got embedded in me.

“When you look at Star Wars or the martial arts films – the sword swing or the lightsaber swing –and then Wu-Tang being a sword-style of lyricism, you see that all these different films have guided me, informed me, moulded me and helped me find my artistic expression to music that was founded on film.”

He went on to connect the dots between the art of directing and hip-hop production.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, and a movie has around 1800 frames, imagine how many words come into your mind when you watch one.

“We all have artistic expression inside of us.

“Art is a wave. When someone catches the wave, they can express it.

“When something goes into you, it matures itself, and then comes out.

“My albums reflected my ideas of what film should be.

“Directors are samplers, like a DJ.

“Something like 50 billion people saw Akira Kurosawa through Star Wars.”

RZA shared that his first cut of The Man With The Iron Fists was more than three hours long.

He learned you have to kill your babies to make you film turn out right; let go of what seems important to you.

The 40 minute opening sequence, ended up being three minutes long.

RZA concluded his speech, by giving the audience his three guiding principals film making. All beginning with the letter P…

“Persistence – it overcomes resistance.

“Persuasion – you have to convince someone who was working for twelve hours to go another twelve.

“Preparedness – many people walk the path, but they fall off the path because they weren’t prepared.”