Behind the Scenes of THIS IS IT
By Jeff Holder, Managing Editor
The filmmakers behind the scenes of the documentary THIS IS IT held a press conference to chat about the movie and about their favorite topic, Michael Jackson.
While Jackson is remembered for things ranging from his influence on popular culture to the allegations of sexual abuse with minors, the filmmakers often spoke of his role as a father.
The movie THIS IS IT only exists, in fact, because of Jackson’s commitment to his children. Jackson was rehearsing for a mammoth stage show and hired a film crew to follow the progress of the show and his rehearsals purely to have footage for Jackson to show his children, according to director Kenny Ortega.
With Jackson’s untimely death before the stage show could be launched, the idea came to Jackson’s estate to use the footage to show his fans what Michael wanted to show his children.
Ortega says when asked about using the footage to make a movie, “My first reaction was no.” However, as Ortega screened the nearly 100 hours of footage he could see how a movie could take shape.
Music director Michael Bearden said Jackson was doing the tour because at 50 years of age Jackson was “still young enough to do it, and his kids were now old enough to appreciate it.”
Bearden goes to also underscore that the filmed footage was for Jackson’s children and is glad he had a hand in now using that footage to make a movie for Jackson’s children to enjoy and keep as a memorial to their father.
Bearden recalled more than once that Jackson would leave meetings or rehearsals in order to go home to put his children to bed and then would return later back to work.
Choreographer Travis Payne says that while Jackson may have in the past not wanted any rehearsal footage to be seen because it was not yet perfected, that was a “previous Michael.” Payne says that, “Michael redefined himself in the role of a father. He became a different person.”
Ortega recalls how much Jackson spent time with his children. Jackson brought his pre-teen children to the set of the Ortega directed HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 to let them get a look at the experience of the set.
The filmmakers also revealed that Jackson’ other motivation for doing the stage show is because he wanted to get out the message that we “are killing the planet” and have “only four years to do something about it.”
The documentary shows the rehearsal and the video that was to run during the concert of a short film which has a young girl chasing a butterfly in the rain forest only to have bulldozers encroach on her. Meanwhile on stage, an actual bulldozer appears ready to “attack” Jackson as he dances.
This radical environmentalist view clearly put the blame on humans for “killing” the planet, and the hope is that with the Obama administration, action can be taken.
The filmmakers say they are glad to have been a part of an important message and that now with the film that message will be seen by many more people than might have seen the stage show.
Jackson has a mixed bag of legacies. We hope that his children will appreciate the fact that their father attempted in his own way to communicate love to them through this movie.