Documentarian Jason Hehir has been carving out quite a career for himself thanks to his work on ESPN’s critically acclaimed “30 for 30” non-fiction series. After exploring the revolutionary University of Michigan 1991 basketball team in 2011’s “The Fab Five” and studying the relationship between the University of Tennessee’s Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld in 2013’s “Bernie & Ernie,” Hehir now sets his sights on former NBA star Kevin Johnson in “Down in the Valley.” Documenting Johnson’s attempts to keep the Sacramento Kings from leaving his hometown, the documentary defines what a sports them truly means to a community at large.
What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?
Former NBA star Kevin Johnson returns to his hometown of Sacramento and leads the fight to save the beloved Sacramento Kings from leaving the city.
Now what’s it REALLY about?
The power of sports to galvanize a community and what a franchise means to a city and its fans.
Tell us briefly about yourself.
Born in Boston. Graduated from Williams College in 1998. Spent ten years at NBC and HBO before forming my own company, JMH films, in 2008.
Biggest challenge in completing this film?
Fitting all the pieces of a complicated 30-year legal/political saga into 77 coherent minutes.
What do you want the Tribeca audience to take away from your film?
That sports are about much more than what happens during a game. They’re about family, memories and our core identity.
Any films inspire you?
I watched a lot of Errol Morris while we’ve been making this. He does a masterful job of making otherwise mundane details (memos, headlines, etc.) visually captivating.
Another “30 for 30” doc that should premiere within the next year. This time it’s about pro football.
What cameras did you shoot on?
ARRI Alexa, ARRI Amira, Canon C300, Canon 5D Mark III and The Red Dragon.
Did you go to film school? If so, which one?
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.