If you haven't heard already, hip-hop staple Bobbito Garcia and French photographer Kevin Couliau directed the amazing documentary, Doin' It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, New York City. The film features NYC's most notable neighborhood basketball courts and various streetball legends, ranging from Pee Wee Kirkland to Kenny "The Jet" Smith. The filmmakers took their bikes and cameras to explore the many concrete arenas that litter the Mecca of Basketball and knocked it out the park. We talked to Kool Bob Love and Kevin "Behind the Scenes" Couliau about their motivation for making such a film, the surprising response they've gotten, and their favorite sneakers to ball in, among other things.
The doc has been screened across the globe to critical acclaim (we named it one of the best sports docs of all time) and it could be yours today. Doin' It is available for digital download on their website. However, if you're in the New York City area, the doc officially opens today in Harlem at the Mist Theater on 116th between 5th and Lenox. There will be four showings a day, playing all the way through to June 6. If you're not in the NYC area you can go to the website for locations and showtimes. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.
Interview by Angel Diaz (@ADiaz456)
How did you guys link up?
Bobbito Garcia: Are we recording?
You don't wanna talk about that? It's a secret?
BG: [Laughs.] The love and respect of basketball. [Laughs.]
Kevin Couliau: Yes. L'amour de baloncesto. [Laughs.] Nah, so in 2004, I started doing playground basketball photography in my hometown on the west coast of France and I sent the first photos I did of my friend dunking to Bounce Magazine, to the, I think it was to the info@BounceMagazine address, and [Bobbito] replied to me, and he published a photo of my e-mail in the Reader’s Corner column of the magazine. And me, I was like, "Yo, wow! A magazine from New York, from the States!" Then two months later I was going to New York City with my girlfriend.
BG: Wait, timeout. That was the first time he ever got published as a photographer.
As a real photographer?
KC: Yeah, so two months after, I am going to New York City with my girlfriend. I met Bob right before going, and I meet him at his apartment, and I brought him some French recordings of my friends doing hip-hop. We played basketball on Morningside and 118th, right behind his apartment. I played my first game of 21. We went to Bed-Stuy, to the Fireball Tournament. That was the first time I saw Mookie and guys like that, that we have in the film right now.
You can play too! I saw you in the film and you were ballin' a little bit. I was like, "Oh, shit!" They were calling you "France" and all that stuff.
BG: [Laughs.] Yeah.
KC: So, this is how we made the connection in 2004, and since then I've come to New York every summer or he has been coming to Paris to play ball as well as coming to DJ.
How's the pick-up basketball in Paris?
BG: He can answer that better than me. I love playing out there. Pick-up basketball is a global movement and that's why we've been able to achieve so many screenings already in five continents. As an independently funded and distributed film, it's kind of incredible the amount of places we've been able to show it. But that's by virtue of the people, the local event promoters, some of which have never done a screening but they love our film so much, a lot of them had never even seen the film. They just saw the trailer. They just respected Kevin's work and mine. Pick-up basketball in Paris is just like it is in New York. They foul hard. They play. I mean, some of the cultural values are a little bit different. Kevin can speak on that.
KC: Yeah, I mean, me, for example, I didn't grow up playing games such as 21, 5-2. We would just play 3-on-3. 1-on-1 maybe sometimes, 5-on-5. But, yeah it was really important for me to work on the doc with Bob just to show the depth of the culture, of the basketball culture, in New York City, and expose that to kids around the world.
You never played Booties? There wasn't Booties over there?
KC: Ahhh, no.
KC: We don't even have fences on our playgrounds. [Laughs.]