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Award-Winning Music Video Director Makes Theatrical Debut with 2023 “House Party” Movie
By Keith Underwood, Contributing Writer
Published January 13, 2023

Calmatic (Courtesy photo)

Charles Kidd II or as he’s better known in the world of music videos, television commercials and now film, “Calmatic,” is the award-winning director best associated with his work on rap artist’s Lil Nas X’s video, “Old Town Road.”

He won a Best Music Video Grammy and Best Direction Video Music Award (VMA) for the project. Calmatic is also known for bringing to life through video the music of Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, Zayn Malik, Lizzo, Anderson .Paak, Jay-Z, and so many others.

Now, Calmatic is making his cinematic directorial debut with what he calls a “tribute” to the Kid ‘n Play 1990 American comedy film, “House Party,” written and directed by Reginald Hudlin.

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The new film directed by Calmatic and produced by Warner Brothers along with New Line Cinema released in theaters on Friday, January 13.

A self-taught filmmaker, Calmatic never attended film school and “did not grow up obsessed with cinema.” The proud South-Central native says alternatively, his “curiosities about life and exploring those curiosities” led him to film.

Calmatic said, “I was very observant as a young kid, and I looked forward to the ride through South-Central to my grandmother’s house. I noticed all the colors, and the differences in each community and the variations of the architecture.

“Driving through South-Central is where my imagination sparked and I became curious about why things were the way they were,” Calmatic concluded.

The Al Wooten Jr. Youth Center, an afterschool program “meant to keep kids off the streets” in Los Angeles, is where Calmatic’s imagination was “first nurtured.” He says, while other kids were “playing pool or basketball,” he was “one of the nerds in the computer lab.”

This began a “curiosity” for Calmatic “with technology.”

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“Staying with the theme of nurturing my curiosities, I became obsessed with music,” he said. “I wanted to know how music was made and what programs, what software was used to make the music I love.”

Soon after, Calmatic would be inspired to make his own music.

“I begin working with artists like Anderson .Paak on the music side, but at the same time I’m like still this tech nerd. So, when it came to uploading their music, designing their My Space pages, doing album covers, and flyers for their shows, I was the go-to guy,” he said.

Calmatic and a business associate decided to purchase a camera and “make a business out of becoming music content creators.”

After a break-in at his mother’s home, Calmatic says all his equipment was stolen, but thanks to his mom’s renter’s insurance, he was able to upgrade his camera and computer.

“I went on YouTube and learned how to use it, then I’m back in the studio with my friends… I’m not making beats, I’m filming them,” said Calmatic. “One thing led to another, and I began creating music videos.”

In addition to what would become an explosive career in music videos, Ad Age named Calmatic the “Director of the Year” in 2020.

He has directed commercials for global brands including Target, Apple, Sprite, Chase, and TurboTax. In the last few years, he has directed four Super Bowl commercials including 2022’s heart felt commercial for crypto.com starring LeBron James and his younger self.

2023 House Party Movie Poster

Speaking of “King James,” he is a major focal point in Calmatic’s House Party remake. The film stars Jacob Latimore (The Chi), Tosin Cole (Doctor Who), and plenty of high-profile cameos from pop culture icons.

Calmatic worked on two previous projects with Donald Glover aka “Childish Gambino” and his creative crew, and “they were the ones tasked with writing the script” for the new House Party – Jamal Olori and Stephen Glover (brother of Donald Glover) to be specific. Calmatic says in 2017, “he direct messaged one of the two on Instagram” and said, “Man, I need first dibs on House Party.”

And at the time, Calmatic says, he had done no narrative work. He didn’t get a reply, but a year- and-a-half later, the unexpected happened. “I got a call,” said Calmatic.

“I made sure all of my big video work had a narrative element, so I would be ready, and when I got that call from Springhill, Lebron’s production company, searching for the director, I went in for a meeting. We hit it off and they sent me the script.”

When he first read the script, he felt it was “very L.A. specific.” “I felt the film was a love letter to Los Angeles, and if I could find a way to capture that, I could knock this out the park,” said Calmatic.

The filmmakers liked his vision, and they “set out to make the movie.”

Along with “House Party,” Calmatic recently wrapped production on a remake of “White Men Can’t Jump” with Disney Studios starring Jack Harlow and Sinqua Walls set to release in the summer of 2023.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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