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Netflix's The Greatest Night in Pop isnt just a documentary, it's a heist film

First you gotta assemble the right crew.

The Greatest Night in Pop promotional image
Image credit: Netflix

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The key to a great documentary isn’t just telling a story. Chances are your audience already knows the basics of what they’re about to watch – a good documentary gives you a new framing for the story we already know. So, in looking at how to frame the We Are The World story, the director of Netflix’s The Greatest Night in Pop realized it wasn’t just about the music. It was a heist film at its heart.

The Greatest Night in Pop tells the story of how the now-iconic collaboration came to be by focusing on all the things that could have stopped it from happening. Forty-six of the biggest recording artists of the time, including Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Lionel Richie. The first barrier, of course, was finding a recording big enough for that many egos. The second was getting them all in one place without the entire world knowing.

That tension was key to Bao Nguyen’s vision for The Greatest Night in Pop. After he got his hands on the archival footage he used to make the Netflix film, he realized it didn’t feel like a music documentary. “This feels like a heist film,” he explained to The Guardian. “It’s a story with a sense of like, Ocean’s 11,” Nguyen added when describing the operation behind the scenes to recruit the music stars and, importantly, to get them into place.

Once they were in the studio, the magic seemed to just fall into place. Aside from a few moments when singers grew weary from the long night of work, most of the recording session was smooth sailing, resulting in one of the most iconic and influential charity singles of all time. Getting to that point was where the story was and Nguyen knew it.

The Greatest Night in Pop is currently streaming on Netflix and is the perfect way to pass the time while you wait impatiently for the second season of Squid Game to finally arrive.

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