NIKE Lightspeed

Growing up in the backyard of space exploration, De’Aaron Fox was always mesmerized by the night sky. Inspired by a shooting star, he sets out to invent a concoction to help him run as fast the speed of light. He works day and night in the lab toiling away when he accidentally spills chemicals all over his shoes. He wakes up to find that his shoes have transformed, and together give him the power of super-speed.

Nike Lightspeed

The basic concept behind the film was to create a superhero’s origin story. As a rising star in the NBA, De’Aaron Fox was set to release his first pair of Nikes that he helped design. The aim was to create a short film to capture the mythical story behind the origin of the shoes. As a kid, he was mesmerized by astronomy and the night sky and had dreamed of running faster than the speed of light.

The ‘origin story’ concept was intriguing, because it’s inherently part of every superhero’s path, but it allowed for a lot of creative exploration. We got to explore how to connect it to the new sneaker release, De’Aaron as a kid, and also back to him as his real life self.

Our creative team consisted of Kristina Caizely (Creative Director) and Danny Hurwitz (Copywriter) who wrote the original concept and outline. Then once we received the boards, we all worked together on building and shaping the story and script. We took elements from classic sci-fi and the superhero genre and ended up with a young De’Aaron Fox thinking his failed science experiment was all for nothing, but in fact leads to the creation of super-powered shoes that transform and warp him into his future self.

One of my favorite memories on-set was when we were filming the narration / dialogue scene. Our Storyteller, played by Odell Mack, was so lovely to work with. He had the perfect tenor in his voice that gave the narration both weight and depth. The first time we tried to film this scene, we actually got rained out and had to pause to wait it out until the end of the day.

The pause ended up as a blessing in disguise as it allowed us to re-work some of his lines on the spot. As the rain poured, we all began ad libbing his dialogue and we were able to construct a more succinct version of the story told through his dialogue. When making any film, I always crave those moments of magic – they are unique because they are unpredictable, but in the end they help make everything better.

Stylistically, this film takes inspiration from the classic summer sci-fi blockbusters of the 1980’s and early 90’s – with elements of retro design in everything from the cinematography, to the set design and wardrobe.

Our DP Nick Bupp sourced a set of vintage rehoused Lomo round front lenses which allowed us to shoot in true anamorphic to get authentic lens distortion and flaring. We love working quickly, so Nick kept his camera rigs built in a way so they could transition from handheld, to steadicam and dolly with little change over time.

Ashley Chako (wardrobe stylist) stocked up on tons of 80’era clothing for our characters. Our hero, Young De’Aaron needed to have a blend of modern and vintage – so his visual story could connect to the modern day real De’Aaron Fox.

We then worked closely with Melisa Myers (Production Designer) to build Young De’Aaron’s garage lab. She brought on a team of artists and props stylists as well as a practical effects person to handle the bubbling over lab scene. For this scene, we wanted to have the effect done in camera, where it would bubble up, flow over, and then slowly roll out and creep over the table, then fall onto the shoes below. They ended up creating a timed delay pellet that was dropped into the flask. We would then roll the camera, and then wait for it to bubble up and flow out across the table.

After locking in all the stylistic choices, our main focus was on the performances – our Young De’Aaron (Trevez McKay) held his own on screen, especially having to act alone in his scene without any other characters to interact with. In casting, he impressed us with his subtle yet emotive facial expressions and ability to take notes and let them shine on screen.

We have many years under our belts working with athletes from our early years in the sports film world with ESPN. De’Aaron Fox was incredibly nice, down to earth, and just fun to be with. We only had a short period of time to work with him, but he came full of energy, took direction really well and was up for anything.

It all came together through the help of our team