How Jennifer Lopez Documentary ‘Halftime’ Evolved to Tell Larger Story About Super Bowl Show, ‘Hustlers’ Oscar Snub
The title of Jennifer Lopez‘s Halftime documentary, now streaming on Netflix, refers not only to how the film explores her preparations for her 2020 Super Bowl performance with Shakira but also to Lopez looking ahead to the second half of her life as she turns 50.
“I feel like I’m just getting started,” Lopez says in the film as she celebrates her 50th birthday. Later, she thinks about what she wants to do with her life.
In fact, when producer Dave Broome first got involved with the film that would become Halftime, many of the most significant moments in Lopez’s professional life from the past few years, which feature prominently in the film, hadn’t even happened.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Halftime‘s premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Festival last week, Broome explained how filming began as Lopez “when she was coming to the end of her residency in Las Vegas wondering what’s next in her life and we had no idea.”
“Hustlers is not on the table,” Broome added. “And nothing that was going on in her life that we’ve seen now over the last four years is something that we thought we would be filming.”
As Lopez made Hustlers and embarked on an awards campaign for her role, which unfortunately ended with her not landing the Oscar nomination many predicted she’d get, and as she was picked to co-headline the 2020 Super Bowl with Shakira, “the whole movie changed,” Broome said.
” It was a constant fluidity [for four years]. It was a constant fluidity [for four years]. What does it mean that she’s being nominated for an Oscar? Broome explained that you are following the story and finding and building the story along the way. “I don’t know how many edits were made. It was like, “OK, here’s what the movie looks like.” ‘”
Lopez’s producing Partner Elaine Goldsmith Thomas shared with the Tribeca stage, how the project evolved into something larger.
“What started as a run and gun trying to capture Jennifer celebrating her 50th birthday on the It’s My Party tour began to morph into something else when my partner Benny Medina saw that there was a larger story to tell,” she said as she introduced the film.
Oscar-nominated director Amanda Micheli was brought on near the end of 2019 to shape “hundreds and hundreds of hours of archival footage and personal footage” and “find the story that hadn’t been told.”
That process included roughly two years of edits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with Micheli getting ready for interviews as the world shut down in March 2020. As COVID restrictions lessened, the interviews began with Lopez and those close to her and Micheli says she was able to “find the story in the edit room.”
” “It was an enormous undertaking and for me it ended in being a labor-of-love,” she said.
The resulting film shows Lopez reminiscing about her life in an honest and vulnerable way. It also shows how she felt criticized for her low self-esteem.
” When you make a documentary, you begin to look at your life in a new way. It’s an emotional process. Micheli described her interview with Lopez as “therapy honestly”. “I think she really, looking back, admitted times when her self-esteem was not bulletproof and that was a surprise to me because I always saw her as so successful.”
[The following paragraphs contain spoilers from Halftime.]
While the film does show Lopez crying in bed and moments filled with frustration, Lopez deals with the Oscar snub amid what appears to be Super Bowl rehearsals. She tells her colleagues about a dream she had that she was nominated for an Oscar and then woke up to find out it wasn’t.
” I started to believe I would be nominated,” she said in the movie. “I was so hopeful because so many people told me that I would be. And then it didn’t happen.”
Halftime also leans into the political inspiration behind Lopez’s halftime performance.
In the documentary, Lopez says that although she is not interested in politics, she was living in a country she didn’t know. She also said that she was deeply affected by the images of children in cages and the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.
” These motherfuckers act as if everyone’s an immigrant trying to sneak into the US and who’s a criminal. That’s the narrative Trump created, Lopez is shown saying. “Some of us have been here for years, and a lot of those people are just good people who believe in the American dream — that’s all they want.”
The film also shows Lopez’s team expressing frustration at the NFL’s decision making, including Lopez and Medina complaining about the choice of two Latina women to headline halftime shows instead of one. Lopez, in particular, gets frustrated as she deals with the logistics of trying to cut her show down to six minutes for a 14-minute double-headlining show. It’s in this discussion with her music director that she says having two Super Bowl performers was “the worst idea in the world.” She earlier tells Shakira that if the NFL wanted two headliners they should have given them 20 minutes.
Broome, who has made multiple projects for Netflix, felt the streamer made sense for the project as “a global platform for…a global superstar.”
He was still impressed that Netflix didn’t immediately say yes to the possibility of a Jennifer Lopez documentary.
He said that he walked the project in [to Netflix], and I said, “I have a Jennifer Lopez documentary, what do you think?” To their credit, they weren’t like, “Oh yeah, we are in, Dave, let us go.” The question was, “Great, what’s it?” What is the story that you are going to tell? How will you put it all together? Who’s the director?’ What are we telling and what do we think we want to do.”
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.