Kobe Bryant granted legendary filmmaker Spike Lee and 30 cameras unprecedented access to his life for one day. Follow these two giants on and off the court in "Kobe Doin' Work" on Saturday, May 16 (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).
Watch ESPN interview with Spike
Listen to ESPN interview with Spike and Kobe
Read what Spike has to say about the film
BEHIND THE LENS WITH SPIKE LEE
What was the inspiration for the film?
There was a film at the Cannes Film Festival a couple of years ago about the soccer great [Zinedine] Zidane. In the film, they had several cameras on him the whole time. I had never seen anything like it before in sports, and I got to thinking ya know, this would work even better for basketball. So I reached out to Kobe, coach Phil Jackson, Dr. Buss, his daughter, commissioner David Stern and ESPN. And we got it done.
Well, usually when you watch the game, the cameras are everywhere, but I wanted to just focus on one person. So we shot this last April 13, it was at the end of the season, a very important game that was going to determine the seedings in the Western Conference for the Lakers. It was a nationally televised game, Lakers versus the then-world champion San Antonio Spurs.
We had 30 cameras on Kobe. He was miked. And then coach Phil Jackson let us go into the sacred locker room and shoot before the game, at halftime and after the game. So it was a very, very intimate look at the player who turned out to be the MVP from last season.
He was MVP. It was the right choice!
Working with 30 cameras
It took a lot of planning, even though it took place over a one-day shoot, so we had to get the legalities out of the way with the league and the Lakers and ESPN. But Kobe and Coach Jackson were great, so it was just a matter of getting it done. One thing to note about something like this is, it's not scripted. Kobe scored 20 points that game. Of course, we would have liked him to score 61 like he did against the Knicks. That's the great thing about sports, you can't determine that stuff. Thank God he didn't get into foul trouble; he would've been on the bench and we would've had no movie. So you know, you're really rolling the dice when you do that stuff.
Uniqueness of focusing on just one player
Well, it's really left up to the device of the director back in the truck. But you have to pick a great player if you want to focus on him the whole game. Someone who commands presence. Kobe's coaching, too, telling people where to go on the court and encouraging his teammates. On the bench, he's doing stuff. So, I think it's a great portrait of one of the true giants in team sports today.
THROUGH THE LENS, SPIKE VISITS ESPN
Award-winning director Spike Lee is visiting Bristol, Conn., and the ESPN campus to talk about "Kobe Doin' Work." Check here for the latest from his various past and present on-campus interactions. You can watch "Kobe Doin' Work" on Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.