How ‘Gleason’ Director Turned 1,300 Hours of Footage into the Moving Story of an NFL Player


Ex-NFL player Steve Gleason sets out to capture his spirit on film for his unborn son.


NFL star Steve Gleason made the play of his life in 2006 when he blocked a punt and led his team to victory, establishing New Orleans as a city that never gives up. A few years later, he was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), a rare condition that quickly deteriorates the muscles until, ultimately, the lungs fail.


Gleason is the former football player’s attempt to document himself so that his son can get to know him. Thousands of hours of footage later, director Clay Tweel pieced together the progression of Gleason’s battle with the affliction.


No Film School spoke with Tweel at SXSW 2016 about finding the story, editing down 1,300 hours of footage, and reinforcing his beliefs in universal truth.


“I had to shut myself off while we were editing because it was too overwhelming. I didn’t really get emotional about the story or any of the footage.”


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