Directed by Clay Tweel.
Story, Seth Gordon, Tweel.
Camera (color, HD), Ty Minton-Small, David Lee;
editors, Tweel, Brian Palmer;
music, Dan Romer, Saul Simon MacWilliams;
music supervisor, Dan Wilcox;
Sound: OneSequoia Studios
supervising sound editor, Rick Larimore;
re-recording mixer, Mark Rozett
At the age of 34, former New Orleans Saints defensive back Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS and given a life expectancy of two to five years. Weeks later, Gleason found out his wife, Michel, was expecting their first child. A video journal that began as a gift for his unborn son expands to chronicle Steve’s determination to get his relationships in order, build a foundation to provide other ALS patients with purpose, and adapt to his declining physical condition—utilizing medical technologies that offer the means to live as fully as possible.
Gleason is not only about Steve’s resilience but also the complications of love between fathers and sons, and husbands and wives, in the face of a devastating illness. The film is bolstered by its subject’s unwavering candor and surprising humor. Told through the lens of an NFL icon, the film grapples with the nature of heroism as Steve recasts his legacy into something quite antithetical to—but no less inspirational than—his on-field shows of strength and dominance.
Sound Notes: needed to do extensive cleanup on all of the family's source films including phone video, HI8, 8mm, and vhs. The mix was conducted at Bang Zoom Studios, Burbank, CA
Richard B. Larimore...dialogue editor / supervising sound editor
Kai Paquin...sound effects editor
Mark A. Rozett...re-recording mixer
James Scullion...dialogue editor
Tony Solis...additional re-rerecording mixer
Winner! Audience Award
Gleason: Diary of a Saint
JANUARY 30, 2016 | 02:16PM PT
Variety Sundance Review
Clay Tweel's emotionally wrenching documentary chronicles NFL star Steve Gleason's battle with ALS.
The devastating effects of ALS are on full display in “Gleason,” an emotional powerhouse of a documentary charting former NFL star Steve Gleason’s battle with the debilitating disorder. With seemingly no restrictions from his subjects, director Clay Tweel delivers far more than just a typical inspirational living-with-disease doc: This is a portrait of a family forced to completely readjust their lives, never flinching from the accompanying fears and frustrations. Tweel masterfully assembles roughly four years of footage, much of it shot by Gleason himself, and the result is painfully raw at times but undeniably rewarding. His name value should provide a commercial stepping stone for a doc with strong potential to score across all platforms; Amazon purchased U.S. rights at Sundance, and will partner with Open Road on theatrical release.
It would’ve been easy to play Gleason’s story for sentimental uplift meant to inspire others to live life to its fullest, or as a feature-length fundraising ad for the Team Gleason charity assisting those living with ALS. “Gleason” may accomplish both of those things anyway, but any such benefits come honestly and without manipulation by inviting viewers along on an intimate journey and holding nothing back.
Already a modern-day folk hero when he played for the New Orleans Saints, thanks to a pivotal blocked punt during the team’s first game following Hurricane Katrina, Gleason became a symbol of courage in the sports world when he was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 34. The diagnosis was almost immediately followed by the news that his wife, free-spirited artist Michel Varisco, was pregnant with their first child.
Intent on leaving his offspring something to remember him by before his disease progressed too far (his life expectancy was as little as a few years), Gleason begins taping video journals full of advice, observations and lessons about life, as well as general updates on his own health. A documentary was already under discussion (filmmaker Sean Pamphilon was originally attached to the project), but entrusting anyone with footage so vulnerable and revealing couldn’t have been an easy call.