Thursday night future NBA Hall of Famer and former Lakers guard Kobe Bryant unveiled another brick from the house of Kobe Inc., an animated feature "Dear Basketball" during the Animation Expo in Los Angeles.
Bryant teamed up with former Disney animator Glen Keane to bring Bryant's letter written to fans before his last NBA game to life. The nearly seven minute animated feature is narrated and executive produced by Bryant, and scored by legendary music leader John Williams.
The film first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, and now looks to be among the Oscar nominations for animated short films. Bryant wanted the film to be unique, therefore meeting several times with Keane as they discussed it being drawn by hand rather than the use of a computer. Bryant wanted everyone to see that greatness was not an overnight process, but developed in time. Keane's famous for his work at Disney where he personally animated characters like "Aladdin," "Pocahontas" and more. The 38-year animator Keane left Disney in 2012 to form Glen Keane Productions.
After Keane called the making of "Dear Basketball" "the most difficult thing I've animated in a long while," likely because of the essence of black-and-white sketches, highlighted only by slight clashes of purple and gold, which are the Lakers' colors. The film magnificently draws you into the mind of the Black Mamba in a refreshing way that allows you to relive his entire career in a matter of moments.
The collaboration of Bryant's vision and Keane's artistry behaves seamlessly as one unit throughout the project. The film is enhanced by the genius scoring of Williams, who Bryant ironically met in 2014. Bryant was intrigued by Williams' dedication to music while capturing every mood of a film. The two developed a great relationship, and one day as a favor to Bryant, Williams took two weeks off from working on "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" to score "Dear Basketball."
It was the first traditionally animated film that Williams has scored in his career. One of the most memorable moments for Bryant was during the process of the making of this film, when he received a surprised call in March 2017 from Williams. Williams happened to be at the Hollywood Bowl one evening conducting his orchestra, and asked Bryant to join him on stage for a live narration of "Dear Basketball." Once Bryant arrived and nearly overcome with emotion, he could not believe his project would be heard before thousands of people.
The experiment was a success, and in true Black Mamba form Bryant rose to the occasion gracefully and closed the deal like a last-second shot on an NBA court.
As one of the greatest basketball players we've ever seen, Kobe Bryant looks to embark on a new chapter, conquering the worlds of tech and film — one project at a time.