OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - A filmmaker from Oakland made a name for himself with his first movie about Oscar Grant has now directed the latest in the "Rocky" series.
"It's strange to be here as a professional. It's something I don't know if I could ever get used to," said Ryan Coogler.
But now he has no choice. Coogler first received nationwide exposure with his award winning film "Fruitvale Station." Next week, his second film "Creed" could make him a household name.
Coogler wrote and directed what may be the next generation of Sylvester Stallone Rocky films. Coogler said he pitched the movie to Stallone even before filming "Fruitvale Station."
Coogler says growing up his father was a huge fan of the Rocky movies. It was something the two bonded over, so when his father became ill, that inspired him to write "Creed" and make fiction into reality.
In the movie, the Rocky character also battles an illness.
"I kind of came up with the idea of having this hero, Rocky Balboa, go through something similar. Kind of like having a character that represented me in that relationship," said Coogler.
Once he was given the green light for "Creed," Coogler went to Kings Gym in East Oakland to train.
"It's really the pinnacle of what the fighters do. To understand it to be able to tell the story you've got to step foot in here we spent a lot of time in here. The camera was in here a lot," explained Coogler.
Across town in North Oakland near 58th Street and Telegraph Avenue is where Coogler grew up.
"My family was there with the Panthers. They used to have meetings at my grandma's house. So North Oakland runs deep in my family. But I lived in Bushrod," said Coogler.
As he decided which of his friends from the area to invite to the movie's screening, he realized many of them didn't end up as fortunate as he did.
"A lot of them are not here. I became emotional a lot of them are dead, a lot of them are incarcerated," said Coogler.
But like the Creed character. Coogler battled against the odds and now the Oakland native is growing into his own as a highly respected and sought after Hollywood director. "Creed" opens nationwide Thanksgiving Day.