So the Lakers win another NBA championship. I haven’t always been a fan, but I’ve got to admit it was really fun to watch Kobe Bryant this season. He seemed to have an almost maniacal determination to win another championship. People compare him to Michael Jordan and, while they’re both incredibly talented, you get the feeling that what really separates them from the pack is how badly they want to win.
Along those lines, a great documentary to check out is Spike Lee’s Kobe Doin’ Work (Netflix). Bryant gave the filmmaker unprecedented access to his life for one game. He’s mic’d up, 30 cameras follow him, and coach Phil Jackson lets the crew into the locker room before the game, at halftime, and after the game too. Here’s a preview:
It’s fascinating to watch even though the game was a blowout. Also, there’s a great storytelling lesson here too: Tell a story about less. See, the impulse is to go for a grand tale. In this case, it’d be to prove how great Kobe is by profiling his entire career or trailing him for an entire season. Along the way, you’d interview teammates, experts, etc. And you’d come up with a pretty generic piece.
By focusing on just a single game, Lee put a magnifying glass on how Kobe plays. Cameras trail his every move so during every timeout and every play, you get to see and hear how Kobe guides his teammates. It completely changes the way you view both the player and the game. There’s no filler or outside input. It’s just a laser focus on this one subject during this one day.
Sometimes it’s easier to get a big message across if you narrow your scope. It’s what we tried to do with our Behind the scenes at 37signals series which presented a look at one week of 37signals’ Campfire usage. Not as exciting, perhaps, but the idea was similar: To tell the big story of how integral Campfire is to us, it was best to focus on a short period of time. Sometimes the perfect way to explain a universal truth is through an individual example.
Also, if you watch the documentary, Lee is incredibly loose with how he asks his questions. It means that Kobe is really relaxed and open with his answers too. If you’re ever doing interviews, it’s something to note: Go in with stiff questions and you’ll probably get stiff answers. Go in loose and you’re more likely to get your subject to open up and admit things to you they probably wouldn’t otherwise.