I am doing this AMA on behalf of ESPN Films’ “O.J.: Made in America” which is airing over ESPN this week.

I have produced and directed three films for HBO, including Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals, Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush and The Curious Case of Curt Flood. I also co-produced the documentary Cutie and The Boxer.

I’ve done other projects for ESPN Films including directing the 30 for 30 documentary Requiem for the Big East and I also directed The Opposition, which aired as part of the 30 for 30 Soccer Stories series.

I’m a native of Washington D.C. and currently live in Brooklyn.

I warn you that I may not have all the answers as to what was or may currently be happening inside the mind of O.J. Simpson, but I’m happy to answer any and all questions about the making of this documentary to the best of my ability.

Proof: https://twitter.com/30for30/status/743117467824840704

Edit: Hey Reddit, thank you so much for all the questions! They were all very thoughtful and insightful, I very much hope that you guys continue enjoying the documentary.

Comments: 274 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

elschultheis40 karma

After spending as much time as you have on this documentary series and spending 5 hours in studio with the LeBatard Show:

Who do you find more immoral, OJ or Stugotz?

EzraEdelman29 karma

OJ. And it's not even close.

inmyboxers34 karma

To what extent, if any, should we view the OJ downfall as a symptom of a long career in the NFL and a brain likely ravaged from CTE?

EzraEdelman21 karma

It's impossible to know. One has to be dead before one's brain can be examined, so one will never know if O.J. suffers from CTE.

CCDAE22 karma

Do you think OJ had the greatest fall from grace in sports history?

EzraEdelman43 karma

I think his fall transcends sports.

TheCurseOfJamesDolan22 karma

I imagine when you start a documentary, you do a fair deal of research. I also imagine, doing interviews and talking with people, you learn a lot more stuff. So, what's something new you learned while making the OJ documentary? Any information that surprised you?

EzraEdelman20 karma

Yes, there is a lot of information that surprised me.. I learned everything! As much as I knew about OJ's football career, I learned a lot more details about his upbringing and his personal life that I wasn't aware of before.

I also learned about the history of Los Angeles and the tumultuous relationship between the black community there and the police department.

shrek_ate_my_dad19 karma

I appreciate the work you've done with your ESPN Films. The first two parts of the OJ: Made in America documentary have been phenomenal.

I'm wondering, did you have any direct contact with O.J. Simpson while making this documentary? Were you able to glean any insights from him directly?

EzraEdelman18 karma

No, I was not able to glean any insights from him. I wrote a letter to him in prison, I heard no response.

babeshun112 karma

It's an entirely different doc, but did you enjoy 'June 17th, 1994'?

EzraEdelman21 karma

I did. I haven't watched it in a few years but I remember watching it and being taken back to my experience of that day in 1994. I also enjoyed the creative approach telling a story exclusively through archival footage.

WicksCherrycoke10 karma

I feel that Vincent Bugliosi wrote the best book on the Simpson trial, by leaps and bounds. Of course, Vince died recently, but did you try to get ahold of him when you were doing this project? (disclaimer: I've only seen Part I so far) If so, can you tell us about that a bit? Thanks.

EzraEdelman6 karma

I agree that Bugliosi’s book Outrage was one of the better books written about the trial. I read his book as part of my process in researching the story, but I did not have a chance to speak directly with him.

ThomasJCarcetti9 karma

I really enjoy all of your documentaries you've done so far. Since you are a native of Washington DC would you happen to support any of the local teams around here?

EzraEdelman14 karma

Oh yes, I'm a huge Georgetown Hoyas fan, first and foremost.

Fleurdetots7 karma

What do you hope is the biggest thing people take away from watching "O.J.: Made in America?"

EzraEdelman25 karma

That the whole story is a lot more complicated than it's been made out to be and that there are a lot of sides to this story that need to be understood.

eaglesfan24457 karma

What was the hardest part of making the documentary?

EzraEdelman15 karma

Getting all of the people who appeared in the film to participate.

GronkyGronk7 karma

I love the documentary, very interesting but I cant help but notice how dark all the interviews look from a color grading standpoint. Was that a creative choice? or Was it a function of not having a larger lighting package on set?

EzraEdelman10 karma

I didn't realize the interviews were so dark. Sorry.

AbeFroman19865 karma

I love watching 30 for 30s, my favorite so far probably has to be Fantastic Lies. What is it about 30 for 30s that make them so unique? Are 30 for 30s picked by ESPN or can a director come to ESPN with a story pitch?

EzraEdelman8 karma

It works both ways. ESPN commissions projects, but they also take pitches from directors. I suggest you email Connor with your top 10 ideas of films to make.

treycash5 karma

Love the documentary so far. My questions, is when do you realize you needed 10 hours of TV time to make this documentary?

EzraEdelman5 karma

It was a very fluid process, it started off as being 5 hours for television and grew once we amassed the amount of material that we did.

JR971115 karma

Was Mark Fuhrman eager and willing to be interviewed for this or did he take some convincing to appear on camera?

EzraEdelman13 karma

I would not use the term “eager” to describe Mark Fuhrman's desire to be in the film.

shark00495 karma

Hi Ezra, thanks for doing this AMA. Which documentary was the most fun to make? Where does OJ's stack up?

EzraEdelman16 karma

The most fun documentary to make was Brooklyn Dodgers: Ghosts of Flatbush, because it was about the borough I live in and was also the first long form doc I had done.

Where does OJ rank as far as fun? Last.

atomguerra5 karma

Were there any roadblocks you came across when making this particular documentary?

EzraEdelman9 karma

I think the better question would be “Were there any roads that weren't full of road blocks?”

WicksCherrycoke4 karma

Can you tell us a little more about what it was like working with the Goldmans? I always feel like they get short shrift when it comes to all of this, and it's unfair to them, as they lost a son and brother, too. Fred in particular is very passionate in securing his son's legacy and memory. I was just wondering if you could give us some insight and little more on your general impression of them. Thanks.

EzraEdelman5 karma

Fred Goldman and the entire Goldman family suffered an unimaginable loss and I admire the extent to which he has kept Ron's memory alive.

marlboro420s4 karma

Hi Ezra! I was wondering if you were a fan of OJ growing up, or if he was just another athlete in your eyes? How did you get the opportunity to make this film? Thanks!

EzraEdelman10 karma

I would call myself an O.J. fan growing up. In my parent's house to this day there is a photo of my two older brothers, one of whom is wearing a Lynn Swann jersey and the other is wearing an O.J. Simpson jersey. So he was very much a part of my childhood.

JaunxPatrol4 karma

Fellow Sidwell grad here! Made me feel old that my mom told be about the OJ doc before I heard about it elsewhere.

What was your initial inspiration for tackling something as complex as OJ's story? Is the timing with the recent FX series coincidental?

EzraEdelman4 karma

Yes, the timing is coincidental. We started working on our film well before I even knew that existed. As for why I tackled it... it was there.

rbhindepmo4 karma

Which person surprised you the most by agreeing to talk for your documentary (or which surprised you the most by ignoring an opportunity to take part)?

EzraEdelman4 karma

I don't have an answer for the second one, and I don't have an answer for the first one either.

I mean considering the sensitivity of the material and the story, there are a lot of people that I was pleasantly surprised by their decision to take part.

Das_Doctor4 karma

Hey Ezra I loved the Doc I finished the last movie at about 4:30 this morning. Do you think if OJ had not been found guilty in the civil court that he would have been able to transition back into the celebrity role or he was too far gone to be fully re-acclimated? Also do you think he started accepting his blackness after the original trial out of realizing they were the only ones who supported him (meaning he didn't really want to but he had to) or that he was just being the true OJ?

EzraEdelman10 karma

No, I don't think so. I still believe a majority of Americans would have believed in his guilt and I think the intervening year showed that he already was not going to be able to reclaim the celebrity status that he once enjoyed.

elliesports3 karma

Was there a method or reasoning behind the chronology of the story lines told? I.e. Jumping from the LA riots (detached from OJ) to OJ's abusive behavior.

EzraEdelman3 karma

There's no method. One of the challenges was how to interweave these two separate stories into one narrative and our editors did a tremendous job of fluidly weaving those two tracks together.

BugsSuck3 karma

My two favorite 30 for 30s are 4 Days in October and Requiem for the Big East. What are yours?

EzraEdelman16 karma

The Two Escobars, are the best 30 for 30s that's ever been made and my favorite.

MG873 karma

Who is your favorite athlete?

EzraEdelman19 karma

My favorite athlete of all time is Allen Iverson.

drivano3 karma

how do you feel about the impact your doc is having on a new generation of people that may not have known, in depth, the details surrounding this man's life?

EzraEdelman9 karma

I'm much more engaged by the generation of people who will learn about a history that surrounded OJ and his life in LA than I am about OJ himself.

Danville19993 karma

Ezra, My question is: Was there anybody or multiple people that you wish would've agreed to speak on camera for interviews? I assume Marcus Allen would be on this list but I was curious about others.

EzraEdelman9 karma

Of course, there were a lot of people that I would have loved to have interviewed for the film. First and foremost, Christopher Darden.

hunterthebountydog3 karma

Love the doc so far.

I am just curious if you have any thoughts on the expectations placed on OJ from the black community to use his platform to bring to light bigger issues? I found myself feeling bad for OJ because he was getting all of this pressure to represent people that shared his skin color, but he didn't want to be defined by his skin color.

EzraEdelman3 karma

Everything I have to say about that is in the film.

imrealhungry3 karma


EzraEdelman2 karma

You never know.

mh4020102 karma

What was your initial reaction when ESPN approached you to do the series? Did you have any reservations?

EzraEdelman5 karma

I had many reservations. I didn't think there was anything more that could be added to this story.

Superdak012 karma

Of all the people you interviewed for the O.J. doc, which was the hardest/ most emotional to question? Was it just as hard for you to get through as it was for them?

EzraEdelman3 karma

No. I'm pretty sure it was much harder for the interview subjects than it was for me. It is their life and their experiences, and I was very sensitive to that fact.

XzibitABC2 karma

If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only pick one person from your films to help you get off the island, who would it be?

EzraEdelman12 karma

That's a good question. I'm going to with Barry Scheck

Fleurdetots2 karma

Hi Ezra! Thanks for doing this AMA! What was the pre-production process like on OJ: Made In America? How much research went into the script? Did you pull in any particular partners to make this as realistic as possible?

EzraEdelman6 karma

There is no script since it's a documentary.

The pre-production process was intense and thorough though - there's a lot of research to comb through, especially the archival footage. Our team of producers did an incredible job gathering all the material that went into the film.

SetYourGoals2 karma

What would you say the most influential docs were to you?

And if you can, what do you think are some "must see" 30 for 30 films? Besides your great ones of course.

EzraEdelman3 karma

There's so many docs that I've watched that have been great. Certainly docs before the 30 for 30 franchise related to sports that I was really taken by were Hoop Dreams and One Day in September.

MillerTime58582 karma

One thing that rings very true in the documentary series is the underlying and sometimes explosive anger of the people in LA at that time, especially within the black community. When you were working with people who experienced the riots first hand and lived the trial through their televisions, was there a lasting resentment to this day? Do they compare citizen/police relationships then and now as better or worse, or simply the same? Thank you for your reply.

EzraEdelman2 karma

I can't speak for a group of people. I think what I would say is citizen policing, to use that term, is an ever evolving question, and there's still, as evidence by the high profile incidents of the last two years, a huge problem in America.

Dane122222 karma

What motivates you to create such amazing documentaries? When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?

EzraEdelman1 karma

My motivation is to simply tell a good story. As far as when I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker there was no one day, it was not a childhood dream. I just continued to work and evolve as a storyteller to get to where I am.

amedema2 karma

What are your thoughts on the FX series and how do you think the retelling using actors differs compared to your documentary? How did the actors do with regards to the real people that you researched and/or interviewed?

EzraEdelman2 karma

I'll tell you my opinion when I watch the series.

jayfornight1 karma

Just finished the entire series. Parts three to five were exhilarating. Great job.

My question is, 1) what were you doing during the chase? and 2) what were your impressions of the trial as it was happening at a young age, versus your perceptions as it stands now after all the research you did for thus documentary?

Thanks in advance.

EzraEdelman3 karma

During the chase I was at my parent's house in Washington D.C., there were friends of mine who came over to watch game 5 of the NBA finals. We turned on the TV and we saw OJ in the Bronco. It was surreal, to say the least, and then after a couple of hours of watching it, I went downstairs and went to watch the game.

AdamBCC1 karma

Was the goal from the start to not have a narrator track, or did that become a reality as the interviews came together?

EzraEdelman7 karma

The goal was always to not have a narrator. In this case, it was even more important because I felt like the stories should be told exclusively through the voices of those who lived it.

EZ_does_it1 karma

Any other doc subjects you want to do outside the world of sports?

EzraEdelman2 karma

There are no specific docs at the moment that I'm thinking about.

redchan271 karma

Are you going to recruit KD to the Wizards?

EzraEdelman5 karma

If Kevin Durant wants to call me up, I will happily tell him why he should sign with the Wizards.

shockd991 karma


EzraEdelman2 karma

I don't have a specific answer to that question, but I think you would find that the percentages of athletes who act out would be commiserate to that of the general population.

[deleted]1 karma


EzraEdelman1 karma