A documentary...about me?

Editor's note: Tomorrow, PokerStars Team Online will release a mini-documentary about Shane "shaniac" Schleger. We asked him to write a little bit about the making of the film.


I'm not shy about expressing myself, but when it came time to start filming on my PokerStars Team Online short film, I was more than a little nervous.

It's one thing to put thoughts and feelings in writing--it's something I've done for most of my life, and I'm able to think about, control and edit the content before releasing it. It's much different when it comes time to expose the internal workings of my life to a stranger and hoping the end result--an eight-minute visual summary of some of those inner-workings--will be relatable, compelling and not embarrassing.

When the filmmaker Ryan Firpo and his crew showed up to my place in Mexico, my anxiety was put to rest a bit: Talking with Ryan, I realized that he has a really sharp sense of cinema and story-telling, and we had plenty in common. We discussed one of my favorite movies, Dark City, and Ryan explained better than I could all the things I didn't like about Django Unchained.

The three-man crew (Ryan, plus a camera and sound guy) showed up in Mexico one evening last year and I met them for dinner at their hotel. We spent that evening organizing and scripting the narration and the next day they shot a bunch of footage of my home setup and the surrounding environment. I wasn't sure how the end product would look, but I had confidence that Ryan would cobble something together that represented my life in a real way.


A screen grab from the film

I've enjoyed all the PSTO films that Ryan has released so far, and I'm really impressed with his ability to tell a story while managing the tricky task of creating videos that serve both the promotional nature of the project and the human aspect of the subject. Having seen the rough cut of my own film, I can say I'm again impressed with the job Ryan did. Without "spoiling" too many of the details, I was truly pleased by the way Ryan got most of the essential parts of my story into an 8-minute film.

The film doesn't capture every aspect of my life--in fact it focuses on some of the more painful, struggle-filled chapters of my history and ignores the happier, more carefree things I get to enjoy--but it definitely encapsulates the arc of my poker life in an accurate and comprehensive way: coming up into the poker life after being a lost 20-something New Yorker, succeeding in poker, struggling in poker, and the eventual need to leave my country to continue playing poker.

It's not the typical story of triumph in poker, but it represents my relationship with the game in an accurate way, and it also represents some of the realities that I continue to face. Sure, I'm still a little bit anxious that my life story got squeezed into an 8-minute short-film and will be out there for the whole world to see, but at least I can feel comfortable knowing that it's a real representation of that story.