Viewing "This Is It," it’s clear the shows were a collaborative process between Jackson and his crew: Ortega directs MJ and the backup dancers, and is often heard discussing tweaks with the star.
"(This is) the story that the fans needed to see," says Ortega. "The fans will really get a sense of the material Michael was planning for the show."
The creative legacy of Michael Jackson may lay in the hands of Kenny Ortega, but looking at him you’d never know it. Sitting in a Toronto hotel room, the director and choreographer appears warm and relaxed, despite the high expectations that surround the release of "This Is It."
Following the King of Pop’s death in June, Ortega, tapped to choreograph Jackson’s London comeback shows, was handed the task of assembling a feature-length film out of footage shot during rehearsals.
"I didn’t have a chance to catch my breath or gain any distance or objectivity over what had happened," he says. "It wasn’t my idea, and in fact, I said no." (De qué idea habla??? a qué se refiere??? qué cosa dices Kenny???)
Despite his reservations, Ortega was a natural choice to helm the project. He previously choreographed Jackson’s Dangerous and HIStory tours, as well as many films, including the "High School Musical" franchise.
He did agree to take a look at the footage and weigh in as to whether he felt there was enough usable material for a film.
"I realized it was my responsibility," says Ortega. "How could I turn it over to somebody else? It was our creation. We were doing this together."
Ortega and a team of editors began assembling the footage in July, handing in the finished product at the beginning of this month.
"We didn’t add anything to it," he says. "It’s the honest footage that existed from the moment that Michael made the announcement in London to the day that Michael died."