The RZA On His Feature Directorial Debut, Quentin Tarantino and Kanye West
RZA's bucket list must be down to a paltry few uncrossed items. Where does one begin when interviewing someone like RZA? Supreme Clientele, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Tical... The guy helmed some of the dustiest, grittiest, most timeless rap classics ever banged out on a drum machine. He's acted in Judd Apatow and Ridley Scott films and scored the Kill Bill movies for Quentin Tarantino. He's written books and now he can add "feature film director" to his lengthy resume of impressive accomplishments with the release of Man With The Iron Fists starring Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu.
Ever the visionary that his mother named him after, Robert Fitzgerald Diggs also scored and starred in his official directorial debut. That would be a death sentence of frazzled nerves and 22 hour work days for any man but Mr. Bobby Steeles. After working with nine knotty headed ninjas scoring, producing, acting and directing is light work. We caught up with the man who's putting the F-U in Kung Fu at his show last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
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How did you study to become a director?
I studied with Tarantino as my film mentor for about five or six years, I would say. As well as any set that I worked on as an actor or even as a composer, I always paid attention and did the knowledge because I had caught the passion and the energy for what I wanted to do. See, I have a Kung Fu sifu and his name is Shi Yang Ming, but I also have a film sifu who taught me the idea of film, and his name is Quentin Tarantino.
How did that relationship come about?
Well first we were friends. We used to watch Kung Fu flicks together, that was like our buddy thing. One night I was leaving his crib and he was like "Oh, Bobby I got something for you." He gave me the script to Kill Bill. I read it, I dug it. I told him any help he needs in any capacity to let me know. I told him I really dug what he had. I felt like he had a masterpiece. I mean the script was 220 pages with sound effects written in. I was impressed with that. It was that impression, that made me [want to study film]. Of course I was willing to help out in any capacity, but by the time he got the green light to go and everything was moving I was like "I wanna learn how to make movies too." So I went to the Kill Bill set in China and I sat there with a notebook and took mad notes.
Let me give you a little side story about that actually. When I flew to China it was on my own dime, my own time. I just looked at it like I'm going to hang out with my buddy for a month and study. So I just told my girl "Mmwwaa see you later." My buddy Kinetic came with me and we just flew over there and got our own rooms, got our own everything. Posted up. Showed up on set and told Quentin, "Hey, I'm here." He was like, "You said you were gonna be here and you're here. Okay, Bobby make yourself at home." I found my seat and everyday I would come and show up.
So that was basically your film school.
That was like my film school. Then they went to Mexico to film, and guess what? I was there again. The flip end to that is Quentin came to China for my movie he did the same thing. Not in the sense of studying, but he flew his own self out. He wouldn't take money from the budget. He came there and he sat there in Video Village and he looked over at me and was like "Hey Bobby remember this all started with you on the set in China taking notes. Now look we're back in China together and the student has become a master.