Director Jason Pollard on Telling the Real Story of Wu-Tang Clan’s ODB in New Official Documentary

One of the hottest tickets at the 2024 American Black Film Festival was to see Ol’ Dirty Bastard: A Tale of Two Dirtys, the documentary about the legendary founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The film chronicles his life, music and way-too-early exit from this world. 

Jason Pollard co-produced, co-directed and co-edited the documentary alongside his father, acclaimed filmmaker Sam Pollard. EBONY caught up with Pollard between screenings to learn more about the film and working with his dad, and why festivals like ABFF are such an important platform for Black filmmakers.

EBONY: How did you get involved with the making of this documentary? 

Jason Pollard: My dad pulled me in. I’m a big Wu-Tang Clan and ODB fan, so I jumped at the opportunity. We talked with ODB’s estate, they approved us and then we got rocking and rolling from there.  

What are some of the touchpoints you cover in the film? 

We talk about his career as a hip-hop artist, as a member of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan and as a crazy, eccentric guy. But it’s also about his personal life and family: What was he like as a father and a family man? What were his issues or troubles outside of his music career? We talk about his rise and, unfortunately, his downfall and tragic passing.  

What was one of the things you were surprised to discover or learn during the filming process? 

One of the biggest surprises I had on making this film was that ODB really crafted his own persona and look. I thought it was off the cuff. He had the wild braids, and he would say all this crazy stuff. But a lot of that was planned out because he knew it attracted audiences and that’s what people wanted to see. 

There’s an old-school feel to the film. Was that intentional? 

We used a lot of the Wu-Tang and ODB tracks. ODB’s ex-wife, Icelene Jones, had a lot of personal home video footage that she had shot over the years. We interviewed family and some members of the Wu-Tang Clan to fill in the story. We shot with mini DV, and the archive footage was shot on VHS. We wanted to give it a nostalgic, classic ’90s feel, but we kept it up to date with today’s production methods. 

What have you learned from your father, who has worked extensively with Spike Lee, about filmmaking?  

He used to take me to the editing room when he worked with Spike Lee, and we’d go to the sets. It was exciting because I got to see my dad make films since I was 5 or 6 years old and see how a film comes together. Eventually, I decided to follow in his footsteps. 

Jason Pollard at 2024 ABFF screening of Ol' Dirty Bastard in Miami, Florida. Image: Jaxson Beckett Williams.
Jason Pollard at the 2024 ABFF screening of Ol’ Dirty Bastard in Miami, Florida. Image: Jaxson Beckett Williams.

How have you developed your own storytelling style? 

What I admire most about my dad is his tradition of telling stories of Black people; not just the civil rights movement, but Black people from all different classes around the world. I admire how he uplifted our voices. Now I try to put my spin on it, my particular point of view and experiences from a younger perspective. 

Why was it important to have the world premiere at ABFF? 

Just look around; I’m happy there are a lot of us here. It is so unique for a film festival to have a majority of Black people around to see a film about us, who will get all the little nuances. I’m so happy to have this.  

Ol’ Dirty Bastard: A Tale of Two Dirtys will air later this year on A&E. 

Updated: June 23, 2024 — 12:02 pm