Steve James

Back in 1987, documentary director-producer Steve James and his partner Frederick Marx joined with director of photography and producer Peter Gilbert to create a documentary about two ghetto youths from Chicago playing high school basketball and pursuing their dream to be on an NBA team. The filmmaking trio had only $2,500 with which to make the documentary, so they shot on video. After logging more than 250 hours of footage, they knew they had something more than a mere TV documentary. Instead, the result turned out to be the feature documentary "Hoop Dreams" (1994), which earned a place on most Top 10 lists and won virtually every critical award as Best Documentary although in a brouhaha that eventually changed the way Hollywood judges documentaries failed to be nominated for an Academy Award. In what was viewed as a sort of consolation prize, "Hoop Dreams" did earn an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing. Some of the unused footage was employed in the 30-minute TV documentary "Higher Goals" (PBS, 1992) which was nominated for an Emmy. With Spike Lee, the trio has also been collaborating on an TNT special based on the film.