Spellbound is a documentary that follows a small group of young people in America as they set out to become champion at Spelling Bee in their country. Despite the young people’s pursuit being something that a simple spell check would quite easily make redundant, it is a riveting watch. Not surprisingly the documentary was shortlisted for an Oscar and won several awards and from the extract below, you can see why.
Notice how the camera stays resolutely on the speller for over thirty seconds of a clip that’s only about two minutes long. His every twitch and every sigh amplified for the viewer, making it an acutely uncomfortable watch. Some years ago, when I did a course on directing documentary, the tutor told us to have the courage to hold a shot and to resist the temptation to cut away. This is a terrific example of why it is important to stay with the character and not look away.
Cross posted on my Linkedin page. Header image is a screen grab from Spellbound trailer.