One-on-one with producer Brian Yang on his Jeremy Lin documentary 'Linsanity' opening in Hawaii, Oct. 11
Oct. 10, 2013
Before “Linsanity” became a national buzz word in 2012, four guys were already tracking Bay Area native Jeremy Lin’s basketball journey from Harvard to the NBA. They just wanted to make a documentary on one of the NBA's few Asian-American players. Who knew the Ivy League graduate would rise to meteoric global fame from overlooked bench-warmer status?
If you missed the premiere of the documentary Linsanity at the Hawaii International Film Festival’s Spring Showcase earlier this year, you can catch it Oct. 11, when it hits the big screen at Consolidated Theatres in Aiea.
Produced by Hawaii Five-0 actor Brian Yang and narrated by Hawaii Five-0 actor Daniel Dae Kim, Linsanity traces Lin’s early struggles chasing the NBA dream before his remarkable run with the New York Knicks that made him a household name.
Yang says he was fascinated by Lin’s story as an Asian-American basketball player—even before Lin made it into the NBA.
“Jeremy Lin was a very promising basketball player at that time with a very unique story; He was from the Bay area, grew up in a very rural Palo Alto,” Yang says. “I grew up in the same area, which is one of the reasons I clung to his story.”
Yang and three of his friends Allen Lu, Christopher Chen and Evan Jackson Leong approached Lin about doing a webisode series. At first, Lin wasn’t too thrilled about the idea.
“We had to get his blessing, and he said ‘no’ to us a bunch of times,” Yang recalls.
But they kept asking until Lin finally agreed to share his story. They started filming in 2010 when Lin was just a rookie with the Golden State Warriors.
“Because he wasn’t playing a lot, it was pretty uneventful,” Yang recalls. “And we thought our story was going to end with him making the NBA.”
But they kept the cameras rolling. They captured Lin's brief and embarrassing stint with the Golden State Warriors, then the Houston Rockets.
And then, in February 2012, Lin went from being a unknown bench-warmer to a worldwide basketball star. He proved the critics wrong with a two-week winning streak for the New York Knicks, inspiring punny headlines like "Linsanity," "Linsane" and "Lincredible."
“We had to brace ourselves; we basically had a front row seat to this whole thing,” Yang says. “Arguably, the biggest sports story of the year.”
What started as an idea for a webisode series turned into 88-minute documentary film, which garnered global attention. The film premiered to a sold-out audience at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Linsanity closed out HIFF's spring showcase to a sold-out screening in April. Based on the HIFF turnout, Yang says his production team decided to bring the film back to Oahu for a limited engagement at Consolidated Theatres. Yang says he was surprised to discover there was a Honolulu fan base for Lin.
"I didn’t know Linsanity was big out here," Yang says. "I got my Linsanity shirt at Macy’s here last year. I was here shooting and I was like, 'Wow, it was on the rack.'"
But Yang says you don't have to be a basketball fan to enjoy Lin's story. The film also delves into Lin’s encounters with racism and stereotypes during his basketball career.
“It doesn’t matter what culture, age, religious faith that they have, people who have seen the movie have said, ‘That was such an inspirational story,’” Yang says.
Story updated Oct. 10 at 10:41 a.m.