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Scott Emerton

The Last Dance - ESPN/Netflix

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OK this had to be posted - I'll be watching this primarily as a fan but will be very interested to see how it was all documented, the quality of the archival footage etc. as well as how Jason Hehir packages it into a narrative thread.

Anyone else watching?

 

 

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I saved it on DVR and might re-watch tonight. Absolutely thrilling to watch. Great storytelling and the archival/access to the subjects is incredible. Having fun watch MJ's outfits evolve over the years, too.

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13 hours ago, Raafi RIvero said:

I saved it on DVR and might re-watch tonight. Absolutely thrilling to watch. Great storytelling and the archival/access to the subjects is incredible. Having fun watch MJ's outfits evolve over the years, too.

Ah we're lucky having it on Netflix outside the US as it's on-demand. Yeah I'm relieved it jumps around a bit rather than first episode just being MJ's childhood, second UNC etc.

Also strikes a good balance between it being about MJ and the Bulls team. Of course he was the team but you know what I mean. It weaves into other stories pretty effortlessly and you don't feel like they're disconnected.

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Just finished the first episode and loved it! I have always loved basketball but I was very young when this all took place so it's nice to be able to watch it and get all the details and flavor of the era.

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2 hours ago, Scott Emerton said:

Also strikes a good balance between it being about MJ and the Bulls team.

Had a long conversation about it with a friend last night. One thing I noticed is that being a teammate is the most normal thing in MJ's life. Every other aspect of his life, from the looks of things, he's getting hounded by people for autographs and chit-chat. Being in practices, in the locker rooms, on buses, and on the court is when he can just be a normal person. There's that great opening scene in France where the sound guy is wiring up his lav mic and then asks him for an autograph. Like, jeez dude, do your job and let the man live his life!

It's great that they capture so much of the team aspect and put it in the film so we can see who he is when he's not a celebrity.

Edited by Raafi RIvero

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Watching episodes 3 and 4 I was quite surprised that a few of the interviews (notably BJ and Horace) were shot in front of windows with a ton of light, but it actually wasn't offensive to the eye.

Is that just the quality of the camera? Or is it just at the edge of clipping without clipping?

OK I'm not a shooter but to my understanding the theory in these setups is to either ND the windows (ha!) or pump enough light onto the subject that you're able to reduce the exposure to match the light outside, likely blinding your subject in the process.

 

Screen Shot 2020-04-28 at 9.54.16 am.jpg

Screen Shot 2020-04-28 at 9.54.42 am.jpg

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27 minutes ago, Scott Emerton said:

Watching episodes 3 and 4 I was quite surprised that a few of the interviews (notably BJ and Horace) were shot in front of windows with a ton of light, but it actually wasn't offensive to the eye.

Is that just the quality of the camera? Or is it just at the edge of clipping without clipping?

OK I'm not a shooter but to my understanding the theory in these setups is to either ND the windows (ha!) or pump enough light onto the subject that you're able to reduce the exposure to match the light outside, likely blinding your subject in the process.

 

Screen Shot 2020-04-28 at 9.54.16 am.jpg

Screen Shot 2020-04-28 at 9.54.42 am.jpg

Haven't watched the series yet .. but on my Netflix list ..  yes have to say these interviews are a bit weird .. its sort of page one of the not to do manual for shooting interviews ..  any sort of bright background is  frowned upon..  mostly as it draws the viewers attention away from the subject .. as it did with you .. I would think these interviews are at the least shot on a log gamma .. which would give you alot more dynamic range than Rec709 gamma.. but even so they are very burnt out .. sometimes on a lower budget shoot you just really don't have any choice .. and have to live with it .. but I doubt thats the case here .. so presumably  its a conscious choice that the director feels fits in with what the over all "message" "mood" of these interviews ..   I mean sure there are no rules .. you can short side frames, cross the line, leave massive head room .. but if its just to be "edgy and hip"for no reason .. I don't buy it .. personally I didn't like these frames at all .. if it was a corporate video or "ordinary" doc.. you would be sacked as the dp..  emperors new clothes factor ..

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19 minutes ago, Robin Probyn said:

 mostly as it draws the viewers attention away from the subject .. as it did with you ..

Actually that was kind of the thing - it wasn't a distraction or unpleasant at all. I only noticed it after a while as I tend to try and take in how interviews are executed - what kind of setting they're in, eye-lines, props etc.

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2 hours ago, Jay said:

Looks like all the budget went to filming Jordan

image.thumb.png.751a626ab6b56780ca484b4a9a7c5caf.png

 I would find that distracting ..  unless it was somehow appropriate to the subject matter .. if not .. then why .. ?  human eye is always attracted to the brightest area .. I know there are no rules..  but there are also usually good reasons for the "normal practice " rules .. if you cross the line the whole time it is hard to follow a scene of two people talking ..  a short sided frame looks awkward.. if you want that then fine .. if you don't then why frame it like that ..  just my 2 cents worth ..  not referring to the Jordan interview, but those burnt out window ones .. 

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Watching the doc now ... and I see the actual footage is a bit less burnt out that the compression of the posted pics.. but still I think the Horace Grant interview .. it is a distraction .. that nuclear blast outside the window taking up a big chunk of the frame..  basically most of the negative space .. 

But interesting with the MJ interview in the pic.. they obviously didn't worry about the exterior changing .. and its fine, not really a problem.. also they have lot of other footage before they go back to it .. starts bright daylight .. there is a part with really nice dusk that wouldn't have lasted long  .. and also total pitch darkness .. or they got lucky that the interview went on a lot longer than they thought and of course just went with it ..  but above all.. its a great documentary even for people not really into basketball , like myself .. maybe thats the real lesson.. if the content is good enough .. interviews just need to be in focus and have good sound ..!

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Quite a critical article here.  I'll reserve comment till I've seen the actual doc.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/may/09/the-last-dance-michael-jordan-netflix

Quote

The Last Dance: Is the Michael Jordan documentary a dressed-up puff piece?


The hit docuseries on Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls scores big as entertainment, but journalistic compromises make it little more than longform branded content

 

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I haven't started watching it, yet, but I did read an article last week about Ken Burns not liking it(despite not seeing it, either), and I wholeheartedly agree with his reasoning.  MJ's production company was heavily involved, therefore MJ had influence over the final product.  Journalistic NO- NO number 1.  So while it may be entertaining and even informative, it cannot be unbiased and completely truthful(things will be omitted and or spun positively for MJ).  And I say this as an MJ fan who grew-up watching him when he was THE MAN(still is).  But if your (main) subject is involved with the production of the doc or has any say-so over the final product, guess what?  No matter how good it may ultimately be,  you've got a "puff piece".

There's an old saying in news and doc's, "You're never going to get the whole truth until after someone is dead".  And it can still be damn near impossible, then.

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People are so desperate to be able to tell certain stories today, that they throw all journalistic integrity and rules out the window, just to be able to do it and (hopefully) have the main subject(s) involved.  I've seen subjects briefed and even given the questions beforehand before interviews(!!!).  This would have NEVER happened back in the day, interview be damned.

Years ago, a friend of mine was flown in to shoot an interview with a certain well-known motorcycle stunt performer.  They set-up for the interview, the subject comes in and sits down and asks the producer to see the questions.  She refuses, because it's journalistically unsound.  He starts berating her and being very nasty and profane and storms off.  She calls it and my buddy starts to pack his gear, but leaves the camera rolling the entire time, in-case he came back (it was THAT bad, according to him).  They leave and at some point afterwards, the subjects PR people call the producer, after finding out what happened, and tell her that he will do the interview, now.  At that point she didn't want anything to do with it and told them that the crew(my friend and his audio guy) had already boarded the plane for their return flight.

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I didn't really the feeling it was an MJ marketing tool.. . there is a section about his gambling .. that he could be pretty nasty to team mates .. how the dream team , MJ especially,  was an arse to Toni Kukoc during the Olympics ..because he was coming to the Bulls and they thought Pippins place was under threat .. and they interview Kukoc and he say also basically they were pricks to him and they didnt even know him .. I mean MJ doesn't come over totally as mr Nice guy .. just an incredibly driven and competitive individual.. not necessarily great character traits ..   I think the only reason it got made, or at least works, is  all the archival footage of the news crew that had been given amazing access back in the day ..  I mean any program ..no one is going to sign a release form if they have any idea they are going to shown in a bad light ..  a "truthful " documentary is a pretty subjective ..  its worth a look I think ..before judgement ..

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I was actually talking about it yesterday with one of my friends that I work with and he says, so far, it’s seemed pretty “open”, that MJ doesn’t seem to be holding back and topics discussed don’t seem to be sugar coated or shy away from the unflattering, which is good.  But from an ‘old-school’ perspective, I still don’t like seeing a subject being involved in the production, like that.  Even if they say they won’t interfere editorially, there will always be that specter of “really, did they or didn’t they?”. 

*And it took me a long time to realize that truth is not what we were raised and taught believing it was.  It is not the absolute that you are led to believe it is, as a kid.  “Truth” can be different things to different people, depending on their perspective, etc.  I also used to think that docs were neutral presentations of whatever and it took me a few years in the business to realize/have my eyes opened that that isn’t necessarily the case, because a lot of them are spun (heavily) to meet or push  a certain agenda/perspective.

*I love a good story as much as the next person, but I want to know when I’m getting the facts vs. “the truth”.

 

*Not implying anything against TLD, just a side tangent on truth/docs.  Maybe a good topic on its own...

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I'd feel naive to say MJ didn't have overall sign off and veto on anything in the doc. This is a fantastic documentary series but in no way would I call this journalism in any real sense. I don't think anything in the series (at least as far as last week's episodes) is actually new - personally I didn't know they blamed Horace Grant for the "Jordan Rules" leaks but I'm sure that's already online as well.

I guess the real way to tell is if they bring up his perpetually bloodshot eyes... they touched on the drinking straight after the game when Scottie got upset they were filming him. But then it was more about MJ's early career and the things his teammates used to do. There's been stories about Barkley being flat out drunk during games in his Sixers years, if indeed Michael is battling alcoholism or some form of substance abuse possibly as a result of personal sacrifices (relationships etc.) he made to become the best ever then that would help to balance the story...

But did anyone expect more than a "puff piece"? Not to discredit the filmmaker, his Iverson doc was really outstanding, but from what I've read it was basically the case that the NBA had this footage in its archives but couldn't release it until MJ signed off on it. They'd tried in the past but MJ was a fan of his Allen Iverson doc so agreed to it finally. But surely there were a stack of conditions given that all this exclusive footage was tied up in a bow.

The amount of money they would be making off this is crazy... not just ESPN and the NBA as far as the broadcast goes but the memorabilia and merchandise across all the NBA, Bulls, Jordan and associated licensed stuff.

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On 5/11/2020 at 2:47 PM, Scott Emerton said:

I'd feel naive to say MJ didn't have overall sign off and veto on anything in the doc. This is a fantastic documentary series but in no way would I call this journalism in any real sense. I don't think anything in the series (at least as far as last week's episodes) is actually new - personally I didn't know they blamed Horace Grant for the "Jordan Rules" leaks but I'm sure that's already online as well.

I guess the real way to tell is if they bring up his perpetually bloodshot eyes... they touched on the drinking straight after the game when Scottie got upset they were filming him. But then it was more about MJ's early career and the things his teammates used to do. There's been stories about Barkley being flat out drunk during games in his Sixers years, if indeed Michael is battling alcoholism or some form of substance abuse possibly as a result of personal sacrifices (relationships etc.) he made to become the best ever then that would help to balance the story...

But did anyone expect more than a "puff piece"? Not to discredit the filmmaker, his Iverson doc was really outstanding, but from what I've read it was basically the case that the NBA had this footage in its archives but couldn't release it until MJ signed off on it. They'd tried in the past but MJ was a fan of his Allen Iverson doc so agreed to it finally. But surely there were a stack of conditions given that all this exclusive footage was tied up in a bow.

The amount of money they would be making off this is crazy... not just ESPN and the NBA as far as the broadcast goes but the memorabilia and merchandise across all the NBA, Bulls, Jordan and associated licensed stuff.

Sure I mean anything that gets shot they want to get it shown.. any production company needs make a profit .. sure its not revealing anything earth shattering I guess .. but I don't think it was promising that either .. its not doc specifically  about MJ.. its about that season and some history .. but yeah for sure if they had some dirt on MJ that wasnt going to get in.. it is what it is .. but have to say as a non basketball fan , non American  , non MJ / Bulls  / Chicago / Hiphop / Fashionista / Shoe  fan boy, I find it pretty interesting .. which has to be the acid test I guess..

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