An up-close-and-personal look inside the life of Brooklyn basketball prodigy Sebastian Telfair as he decides whether or not to leap from high school to the NBA, Through the Fire is more than just a sports documentary. It's also the story of the starmaking industry in America, and how the lure of riches and fame exert their magnetic pull on the Chosen One, and those who surround him. Telfair was a middling NBA prospect at best-a 5'10" runt who couldn't shoot and was expected to have trouble with the physical demands of even the less rigorous collegiate game. But he had good genes (his cousin is current Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury) and a backstory straight out of central casting: Coney Island product, flashy ballhandler, winning smile, dominant high school player. As a result, he became a first-round draft pick, an instant millionaire and the inspiration for an eponymous line of footwear. Through the Fire trains its lens on Telfair as he undergoes that transformation. Along the way, we meet a lot of hangers-on and questionable characters: Telfair's high school coaches openly exult at the volume of run-off "bling" they'll be able to reap after he signs with a pro team. A middle-aged white sneaker company executive gushes about the "street cred" that "urban ballers" like Telfair bring to his shoe-selling enterprise. For better or worse, they're all players in the sports starmaking pageant that didn't begin with Sebastian Telfair-and won't end with his success or failure in the NBA.
Born in New York in 1964, Jonathan Hock is an eight-time Emmy Award winning director, writer and editor. Hock created and directs the ESPN TV series, Streetball, which begins its fourth season this summer. His other credits include Michael Jordan To the Max, an IMAX film that he wrote and edited. In 1985, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in American History, Hock joined the NBA as a production assistant. He then spent a decade as a writer, editor, director and film cameraman for NFL Films. Later, after editing two independent films on a flatbed in his apartment in Brooklyn, he opened his own production company in Manhattan, Hock Films. Hock founded and runs The Reel People Film Project, a program of film workshops for at-risk youth in New York City. He resides on the Upper West Side with his wife Lynn and sons Eddie and Ethan.