'The Last Dance' Director Jason Hehir Had to Shape 10,000 Hours of Footage into a 10-Hour Series [Interview]

For Emmy Award-winning director Jason Hehir (Andre the Giant, 30 for 30), completing the ten-part documentary series The Last Dance has been a Herculean task – and he’s still not finished. He likely won’t be totally done with the project until hours before the final episodes air. Talk about pressure.

But like Michael Jordan, the primary subject of the documentary, Hehir seems to thrive when the game is on the line. His series, which chronicles Jordan and the Chicago Bulls during the 1997-1998 season as they try to win their sixth NBA championship, was scheduled for a summer release before being moved up to fill the world’s sports-sized hole during the coronavirus pandemic. The show has already broken viewership records for ESPN, generated a mountain of memes, and seems to be one of the few pieces of pop culture that the country is consuming at the same time in an era when that kind of water cooler entertainment is increasingly rare.

I spoke with Hehir by phone earlier this week, after the premiere of the third and fourth episodes, and Hehir told me about how he decided to shape the show’s timeline, his top three Michael Jordan moments, how he and his team had a staggering 10,000 hours of footage to whittle down, and much more.

The Last Dance Interview

New episodes of The Last Dance air on Sunday nights in the United States on ESPN and will appear internationally on Netflix on Mondays.

Photo credit: Andrew D. Bernstein, NBA Photos

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