Greg Whiteley, the director behind the Netflix docuseries “Last Chance U” and “Cheer,” was interviewed by The New York Times on Wednesday in connection with the release of his latest project, “Wrestlers.”

After he was born in Provo, Utah, and raised in Bellevue, Washington, Whitely went to New Mexico to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he told the Times.

The Latter-day Saint auteur behind ‘Mitt’ and ‘Last Chance U’ isn’t done writing his own script

As part of his mission, Whiteley would go door to door, inviting people to listen to a message about Jesus Christ. As it turns out, his mission would help prepare him to become a successful documentary filmmaker.

“I was amazed at how quickly people would disclose the most vulnerable things at a doorstep within 90 seconds of meeting them,” Whiteley told the Times.

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Whitely also discussed his mission in a 2022 Deseret News profile.

“Daily, you’re put in uncomfortable situations, and you survive all of them,” he said.

Here are highlights from the interview in the Times:

  • “Whiteley and his crew settled in and familiarized themselves with the rhythms of the operation. Perhaps most important, he quickly established that he wasn’t trying to burn anyone or manufacture the gotcha moments that fuel reality TV, which those on both sides of the camera are adamant that ‘Wrestlers’ is not.”
  • “He tells stories by spending countless hours with his characters, not by asking hot-take questions about drug abuse and romantic problems (both of which are present in ‘Wrestlers’).”
  • “Whiteley is always after what is real, which in this case sets up a rich irony: a painstakingly authentic look at an endeavor often derided for being fake.”

Here’s the link to the full article from The New York Times.

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