Jake Sumner Interview | SlamxHype Exclusive
By now you’ve all seen the ‘Everything is Practice’ short film, made by Jake Sumner, documenting Spike Lee coaching his son’s New York Soccer Team. The film was made to showcase the interaction between the creative community and sports, the philosophy behind Nike Stadiums, and was also the first time we’ve seen the work of a talented young film-maker, Jake Sumner.
The beginning of someone’s career is exciting, and full of expectation, it can be an exciting time, but also a stressful time, having graduated from college and living up to you peers and parents expectations. In Jake’s case, its his own expectations and hard work that have led him to a point where he has a lot to live up to. The son of Sting and Trudie Styler, you’d think he’d be worried about living up to his father’s name, but Jake is focussed and determined to make it on his own accord…
SlamxHype: I heard you graduated last night- Congratulations on that by the way!
Jake: Yeah, thank you! It was fun!
So how did the project first come about for you? What was the brief that was given to you?
Nike approached me, I think after hearing that I went to NYU, through the film school there, where Spike Lee was a tutor and I guess they thought it might be something interesting for me to do.
Were you aware of his coaching of his son’s team at that point?
Well, I was definitely aware that he was a soccer fan and that he loved soccer and when I heard about it I was intrigued because, as you know, I’m English and I love soccer. I like that more and more Americans are getting into soccer and when I heard of the idea it kind of cracked me up so I thought- this will be fun!
Growing up in England, you were obviously a huge soccer fan, who did you support?
Yeah of course, my dad was a huge soccer fan of Manchester and my way of rebelling against him was to support Chelsea! It was always such a big thing in my house on Sunday’s.
Now, tell us about the making of the film, were there any challenges along the way? Anything funny or out of the ordinary happen throughout this time?
Yeah, I mean when I found out I was going to be working with Spike – that was pretty hard. I loved making the film, I worked really hard at directing, I mean it was with one of the world’s biggest directors! But Spike was great and we had a lot of fun. I am really happy with the result, so that’s good.
Was there anything that you have learned from working alongside Spike Lee?
What I wanted really was to be a fly on the wall as such, there were times where I would really be directing them and asking, “OK , I need you to be talking to Jackson here” for example, where I needed to be discreet at possible, but then there were times like when the game started and it was all go, I wanted to be very visible and try and capture what a practice would really be like, you know? I didn’t want to be all over it and creating anything, I wanted to let it happen as it would naturally and then go over with my style.
This project for Nike is really about combining soccer and sport in general with lifestyle. Growing up in England it is definitely a way of life as such, everybody growing up, it’s what surrounds them. What do you see as a message from the film that can be incorporated into people’s everyday lives?
Well the film starts off with Spike saying something that I feel is very relevant to this idea of sports culture being part of everyday life. For me growing up in England, football was our basketball. I live in New York now and when I walk around I see that basketball is such a way of life here, it is always around, which is very similar to how it is in England. Spike is saying something like “The way Americans play basketball is the way Brazilians play soccer”, which I think is a really interesting statement because for us in England, the Brazilians had this essence with the way in which they played soccer and I think the comparison is important. I think what Spike is saying really comments on youth culture and the the way in which it is changing around the world. Especially in New York, with all the different cultures that are here, that creates an influence on our culture. New York, to me, is really a hub of influence and it would be great for that influence to spread across the nation.
Exactly, and hopefully having someone like Spike involved, who is a highly acclaimed Director, might in turn help reach people who may of not already considered soccer as a sport to play.
It would be cool. For me though I hope they don’t get too good, because America certainly has the backing and the resources to get what they want- this could be a threat to our England teams!
Lastly, how was it that you got into film making in the beginning? I don’t want to go too much into it but your father must have been an influence in some way with all of his achievements and musical talents, how did your interest in film come about?
Yeah, certainly, I figured out what he did from an early age, and I figured he was pretty good at it, but I also wanted to do the direct opposite of whatever he was doing! Not in a mean way, but I just wanted to be doing something completely different. He always used to encourage me to work really hard at whatever I wanted from a young age. I remember my parents taking me to see ‘The Raider’s Of The Lost Arc’, the Indiana Jones film, and from that point I was like “I want to make films”. From then on in I really set out to make that my goal, instead of being outside and playing around I was inside watching film. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and as soon as I could I just started working on set. I think for a lot of people they didn’t expect me to take that route, or expected me to just sit around and not do anything, for what ever reason, but I think that is just such a bad stereotype. I just worked really hard and have been working hard ever since I was a kid.
Well it certainly seems like that hard work is paying off and all you can hope it that it will continue to keep paying off.
Yeah exactly, but I do think it comes down to what you produce at the end of the day, I mean any contacts that I may have, will get me a meeting but I still have to do the work at the end of the day and be proud and happy with it, for myself and the client. I do also feel though, if you do have opportunity and resources that can help you, then you should take it. I have always felt like I have had something to say and I would like to say it.