Q+A: Andrew Jenks
The award-winning filmmaker talks hoops, the New York Knicks, movies and more.
by Daniel Friedman / @DFried615
Andrew Jenks, the award-winning filmmaker behind several critically acclaimed documentaries and his own MTV series titled “World of Jenks,” really began his career on the basketball court.
As a youth, Jenks remembers routinely filming his brother playing basketball while he would imitate NBA commentators like Ahmad Rashad and Marv Albert. Then, when Jenks was playing for the Hendrick Hudson High basketball team, he was asked to create a video chronicling the team’s season. The film was screened at the season-ending banquet and Jenks’ friends and family in the crowd immediately erupted in applause. It was at that moment that he began to really think about filmmaking as a possible career.
As New York continues to fight the Indiana Pacers for their Playoff lives, Jenks, a lifelong fan and season-ticket holder, took a few minutes with SLAMonline to talk about his beloved Knicks, what it was like to follow Bobby Valentine around Japan and his unique relationship with Iman Shumpert.
SLAM: Tell me about your background as an NBA fan. Who was your favorite team growing up?
Andrew Jenks: My team was definitely the Knicks. I’m a lifelong fan, and the moment that I started making decent money, I spent it on getting season tickets. That was definitely one of my first purchases.
When I was in middle school, my brother and I would get tickets for the very last row at Knicks games and we would be amped. We were literally in the dead last row. So the proudest moments I’ve had have been the times I’ve taken my brother to games with courtside seats.
SLAM: As a die-hard fan, what do you think of the Knicks right now?
AJ: The more Carmelo [Anthony] can get guys involved, the better we’ll be. And there’s a couple X-factors that really determine every game, guys like JR Smith, and [Iman] Shumpert. If certain guys can step it up, I feel like we can go a long way. I love Woodson, so I think it’ll be an interesting Playoffs. They just have to play like the mid-90’s teams. They have to play rough.
SLAM: In your second film, The Zen of Bobby V, you chronicled Bobby Valentine’s time as a baseball manager in Japan. How did that idea come about?
AJ: When I get bored, like many, I have a tendency to start Googling or searching random people on Wikipedia. Just wondering where they are and what’s happened to them. So I was just wondering, ‘Hey, what ever happened to Bobby Valentine?’
I had remembered this article I read about Bobby where he had gone to Japan and became a legend over there because he was the first American manager to ever win a series. So I got in the door to ESPN and pitched them the idea and they gave me a budget of a million dollars to go to Japan for seven months and make the movie.
SLAM: What was it like to live in Japan following an American baseball icon like Valentine?
AJ: The best comparison I can think of is if you were to follow around Brad Pitt in America for seven months. That was my experience with Bobby. We were traveling on the road half the time and Bobby just loved the culture. So we would go to all the small towns, he would ride his bike everywhere, eat the food and study the language.
That was part of the reason why they really loved him. They knew he wasn’t just another American manager making a ton of money. He was also a guy who really took to Japan and had sort of a love affair with it.
SLAM: You’re friends with Knicks guard Iman Shumpert. What’s that relationship like?
AJ: He’s just a multifaceted Renaissance man, and if he didn’t play in the NBA, I’m convinced he’d be an entertainer of some sort. He always wants to learn. So I listen to him about basketball and he listens to me about film.
I’ll never forget when I was at his place and I was teaching him about the last scene in Psycho, and why it was this amazing scene in the history of film. He was just down. He was watching and totally understanding it, and I was also showing him this tracking shot that Spike Lee does in almost all of his movies. It’s cool. He’s a creative guy, I’m a creative guy, and we both love basketball.
“World of Jenks” airs Mondays at 11PM EST on MTV. Jenks also recently released his first book, “Andrew Jenks: My Adventures As a Young Filmmaker,” and he’s been working on several other film projects. You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewJenks.