WEST ORANGE, NJ - Over 100 journalism and English students from West Orange High School gathered in the auditorium for a special visit from Michael Bonfiglio, an Emmy and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker on Thursday, April 24. Bonfiglio directed the highest-rated of all time ESPN documentary about professional athlete Bo Jackson, You Don’t Know Bo.
For almost two hours, Bonfiglio talked to the students about his profession and shared clips of his work. He discussed the process of filmmaking and what goes into creating a documentary. After two years of Film Studies at New York University, he landed an internship that would eventually lead to a successful ten-year career as a producer. He currently works for Radical Media, but does work for Oprah’s Master Class series and special MTV productions.
His documentaries have covered sports icons, like Bo Jackson, to fashion powerhouse Tom Ford, and musical entertainers like Lionel Richie and Alicia Keys.
“It depends on what your story is and how you want to tell it,” says Bonfiglio of his work. The first documentary he worked on was Paradise Lost, which follows the trials of the West Memphis Three.
The opportunity for the Bo Jackson film from came from Bonfiglio’s coworker Dave O’Connor, who had formerly worked with ESPN. ESPN wanted to produce a documentary on Jackson’s career and successful Nike campaign. After months of research on the admired athlete, Bonfiglio interviewed Jackson and his coaches to produce a film documenting the superhero.
“It was such a fun and exciting story to tell,” he says. Bonfiglio incorporated a comic book and cartoon motif throughout the film to capture Jackson’s superhero strength and agility.
Senior Ali Schneider says, “The opportunity to meet him was really cool. It was very informative and interesting to hear what his profession involves.”