Documentary filmmaker Jesse Sweet has done a little bit of everything in his career, but nothing will ever compare to working with the late Anthony Bourdain. Sweet traveled with Bourdain to Trinidad and Pittsburgh to direct two episodes of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” The news of Bourdain’s suicide came as a complete shock.
“There’s the saying that great men in the universe get smaller when you get close to them, he was the opposite. He was impressive, super authentic and what you saw on the screen was what you got in real life. He was smart, funny, caring, provocative and thoughtful. I couldn’t fathom that someone that full of life could meet that tragic end.”
Sweet has worked with people like anchorman Peter Jennings and acots Adam Scott and Michael K. Williams, but there’s was something different about the way Bourdain expected more from him as a director.
“He took the format, threw everything out the window and came up with a more creative and exciting thing. I had wanted to work with him for a long time. He didn’t treat Parts Unknown like a series, he treated it like a series of documentaries. He didn’t want to just go to Pittsburgh and eat French Fries with people. He challenged me as a director to come up with something different.”
Sweet’s latest project “Algorithm Wars” with Jigsaw Productions features an in-depth look at the use of analytics and data in the world of sports. Sweet’s doc features a conversation with New York Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances. Betances is a big believer in using analytics to improve his performance on the mound, but he doesn’t share any of his personal data with the organization and that could set up for a very interesting debate down the road.
“I think it’s an issue that the next collective bargaining agreement is going to have to take on. It’s like the wild west right now and teams are doing as much as they can get away with. It doesn’t matter what they should do, it’s all about what they can do. It’s about leverage and Dellin Betances is a player that has enough leverage where he can do what he wants and wear what he wants.”
Betances told Sweet that he has a team of people that analyze how many pitches he can throw per day and that has been a huge aid for him to avoid injuries. While MLB players like Betances can collect and analyze this data, the NFL Player’s Association pushed back on former Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly when he tried to collect data of his players’ sleeping habits.
“Algorithm Wars” is part of a larger docuseries called “Enhanced”, which features conversations about sports science and the human body with athletes like Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and 3x Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings.