This Is It opens nation-wide today, and Cinema Blend recently caught up with director Kenny Ortega to chat about the completion of this landmark project and his relationship with Michael Jackson.
Originally, Ortega was the man behind the This Is It stage show that Jackson had planned in London. Plans, of course, changed when Jackson died suddenly on June 25. Ortega recalled the moment he heard the tragic news:
I received a telephone call from one of our promoters that said Michael in fact had died. I made him repeat it three times because I thought that I was hearing voices. It didn't feel real.... It just felt like everything inside of me, like a building collapsed, the foundation. Everything inside of me just collapsed like a bomb had dropped.
Jackson's death left Ortega with 80 hours of footage from rehearsals, which he then drew from to create This Is It.
Most of that was film footage that Michael and I had produced for special content to appear in the concert. Part of it was behind the scenes, extensive interviews with everybody behind the scenes, the sets going up, the show beingbuilt and then part of it were these cameras that were capturing rehearsals. They might do an enhanced, a bigger version, an extended version someday but I do know that the DVD that's coming out next year has a tremendous, weighty additional footage.
He went on to talk about the genesis of the project, and also the process of working with Jackson during rehearsals. From what Ortega says, he and Jackson had a very amicable yet productive and challenging working relationship. He also expressed a deep sadness and a painful sense of closure regarding the completion of the project.
Handing the movie off at the beginning of October and saying, "Here –" was the hardest thing that I've ever had to do. It really was like giving a child away. That was the first time that I was taken aback, realizing that this was really the end of something. Now it's just about how do we turn this all around and make it mean something and make it worth something, keep his messages alive, do the work that he is no longer here to do and hopefully this film helps a little bit. Posted 10.28.09 by reelz