In amongst all of the big summer blockbusters being released in the next few weeks (Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, Baywatch, Wonder Woman, The Mummy), there are a few hidden gems that deserve your attention outside of the whizz-bang of the summer season and one such film is Kicks.

Co-written and directed by Justin Tipping, Kicks tells the story of Brandon (Jahking Guillory), a teenager who dreams of owning a new pair of Air Jordans trainers. However, whilst walking through a rough neighbourhood, he is mugged for his trainers leading to him and his two friends (Christopher Jordan Wallace and Christopher Meyer) on a dangerous mission through the streets of Oakland to reclaim them.

Christopher Jordan Wallace and Jahking Guillory - Kicks

The genesis of the idea came from a very sad but powerful moment in Tipping’s own adolescence when he was mugged. but Tipping says it’s an event he wanted to share with the world and it impacts on him, saying:

“It’s actually inspired by a time when I was 16 when I was jumped by 10 kids in a parking lot because I had some new Nike and once they saw them it was all downhill from there. The emotional impetus came from when my older brother saw me all bloody coming back home and see “You’re a man now” and it was moment when I was proud and confused at the same time… That was at the core, I wanted to go back and explore that moment and explore why specifically young men act the way they do and why violence is synonymous with masculinity.”

One of the stars of the film is Christopher Jordan Wallace, who is the son of the late rapper and artist Notorious B.I.G and R&B singer Faith Evans. Wallace played his dad at 8-13-years in the film Notorious back in 2009 and while he has been in a few films since then, he says that Kicks really knocked him out when he first read the script:

“I remember the first time I read it – I was so curious who wrote it. My aunt actually sent me the script and them Justin had told me to do a self-tape for it which is before the audition process. Then he calls me in for an audition and I remember arriving and they put me, Jahking and Justin in the room together and Justin was sitting behind one of the casting directors and was wondering who the heck he was. But I was really happy to be a part of it from the start”

Kicks - Justin Tipping

Tipping says that the cast was made up of actors as well as friends and acquaintances, given the budgetary constraints but one big name in the film is that of recently crowned Academy Award Winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), who plays the uncle of in the film. His presence on set rubbed off on everyone and Wallace says that he is finally getting the credit his long career has deserved, saying:

“He was really, really genuine and a really nice guy. You always felt his presence when he walked into a room, even off camera. The parts where he’s coming in the room and we’re sitting there and he walks in we weren’t acting! He gave us a lot of advice and how to succeed in this business. He’s been doing this for 20 years and he’s now getting the credit he deserves.”

You can view our full interview with the duo below:

Kicks is available on digital download from May 22nd.