The task for filmmaker Jim Jorden when crafting a documentary on LSU’s historic 2019 season was not how to fill up an hour — but what to leave on the proverbial cutting room floor.
“That was one of the hardest parts of the show,” Jorden said Tuesday. “You throw 60 touchdown passes, you can’t show them all.”
So Jorden, whose documentary “One for the Ages” premiers at 6:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday on the SEC Network, went often for the best shots and what drove the narrative of the 15-0 national championship season forward.
“It’s hard not to slight somebody who contributed to the team on offense, defense or special teams,” Jorden said. “We tried to use the best footage.”
Like a lot of sports programming over the past two months of the coronavirus pandemic, the LSU documentary was born out of necessity to fill the empty space on the schedule.
“March 12, when the SEC tournament got canceled, we were in the middle of doing an ‘SEC Inside’ ” show, Jorden said. “We wanted to finish the show. It didn’t feel right to just quit. So we ended up making the show a season in review.
“As we started thinking about what to do moving forward, we thought that we had footage of every game LSU played last year and stuff from spring football. The SEC is so league-first (with the SEC Network) and everything we do is equal. But we thought what if we put together a show about this record-breaking season and all the behind-the-scenes stuff people don’t know about. Joe Brady coming from the Saints and Ed Orgeron and Sean Payton’s relationship became a backstory.”
One of the most enjoyable storytelling elements for Jorden was the interaction between Brady, now the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger.
“A number of times in the film we give the viewer the opportunity to hear or see something they never get to otherwise,” Jorden said. “Being in the booth with those guys is really neat.
“The way they did it was a lot of red zone and short-yardage stuff, Joe called. But the overall scheme going into it was Steve’s. It’s unusual how egoless this whole staff was last year.”
A former filmmaker for NFL Films, Jorden will be like everyone else — watching the documentary’s debut from his home, which is in Charlotte, North Carolina. ESPN produces the SEC and ACC networks there. And like many of us, when it’s over he will be thinking about what the coming season may or may not be like.
“When I made this film, the one thing I wanted to get across was the importance of Death Valley and the Tiger Nation and the fandom there,” he said. “If they play college football this year without fans in the stadium or at one-third capacity, it will be such a strange thing to cover. Fans bring so much energy to everything. For teams to still compete and not have them there would be an interesting scenario.”
Maybe it means there will be even more need for a documentary after LSU’s 2020 season is over.
One for the Ages
6:30 p.m., SEC Network