The making of “Linsanity” is almost as amazing as Jeremy Lin’s sudden rise to worldwide fame.
Evan Jackson Leong started working on the documentary years before Lin became an NBA star. Years before he even sniffed pro basketball. He started when Lin was an unknown college basketball player.
“We heard about him, actually, when he was at Harvard — when he was tearing it up and doing a lot of great things,” Leong said. “So we approached him, and in the beginning he didn’t really want the cameras on him. He didn’t want to be a reality start. But we persevered.”
But Leong had no inkling what they had on their hands. That, in the space of two weeks in early 2012, Lin would go from being an unknown to being just about as known as anybody in the NBA.
“To have a turn like this in a documentary is the dream of any filmmaker,” Leong said with a smile. “But when we approached him, we already thought it was a fantastic story. Him making it to Harvard was farther than any of us had ever made it.”
He was thinking about kids who might see the documentary — that it could inspire them to reach for the Ivy League and beyond. And, despite not getting drafted and being waived by several teams, “just when he got into the NBA, that was a great story. It was amazing that he got that far.”
But exactly where the documentary was going, Leong and his team didn’t really know.
“As we were shooting, we didn’t have an ending,” he said. “And in February last year, he gave us an ending.”
(There’s a postscript indicating that Lin has since signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Houston Rockets. Which is another pretty happy ending.)
And for the filmmaker, getting into the Sundance Film Festival was a happy ending of his own.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” he said. “This is any director’s dream. I was speechless when I found out we got in.”
— Scott D. Pierce