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Ice Cube on Producing and "Straight Outta Compton"

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 17, 2015

Last Thursday, August 13th 2015, the PGA WEST audience was treated to a screening of the imminent box office hit Straight Outta Compton.  Joining the Q&A after the film was one of film's stars, O'Shea Jackson Jr., accompanied by several of the films producers.  One of those producers, however, was none other than Jackson's father, subject of the film, and entertainment icon, Ice Cube.  Of course known as a rapping pioneer and sensation, as detailed in Straight Outta Compton, but also well known as a film and TV producer, Ice Cube elucidated many points, including the quality that permits him to produce successful projects across a range of genres:

I stay a fan. Sometimes you get in the business and you figure you’re the gatekeeper of entertainment, and you want to provide the masses with entertainment. Bbut if you stay a fan you really see what’s wrong with projects from that point of view and you can go in there and fix them and I've always had a clear plan of the kind of movies I wanted to make and a clear plan of the tone.  Because I think that is your, I guess that’s your glue, is a tone, and it is very important that we get our tones right when making a movie.  If you get that right, everything else seems to roll into place, but if you’re fighting with the tone of your movie and you're not really sure what that is, then it is going be a struggle to stay on track.  I think my movies are able to keep the tone that it promises to the audience.  These kinds of things are my pet peeves and they worked out for me well, being able to pay attention to those kinds of things, and there is probably a slew of other things that go into it. It is finding great people that know what they're doing.  Working with the best, and [working] with people that are passionate and love what they're doing.  

And I love producing, it is where all the action is.  It is really where all the action is. It's just great to be in this position. I would hate to just act, that would just drive me crazy, not to be able to be in those meetings and to be into the creative side and making those decisions that I know can sway a film and make it either good or bad. And I'm like you guys, I hate bad movies. I just hate em! So I like to try to make my stuff fulfill its promise.

On producing Straight Outta Compton:

I couldn’t be more happy with the whole process, it was not easy. This was the hardest movie that I ever had to produce. When it is fiction and you run up against a bump, hiccup, budget issue, you can just be like, "let’s go in a room and think of something different”.  You know what I mean? Here, you change something and you get a phone call. "ring. Why did you take out my part?!! What’s going on?!” so you're like, "uh, let’s put that back”, so now you're looking for other places and it just never ended.

We just wanted to tell the story and you just had to grapple with keeping it real but also adhering to the standards of movie making. We wanted to make people laugh, cheer, and cry.  So it was just this tricky balance that we were all trying to hit our marks because we knew there were a thousand ways to mess this movie up. There's so many ways to get this wrong. Our thing was "let's hit our marks, let's hit our bench marks, man”. Once I saw the first week of dailies, I said "yeah, we got a nice team together. We got a great team.”


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