Imagine the kind of pressure one must face when their first film gets nominated for an Oscar. Writer-director Jeffrey Blitz, whose 2002 documentary Spellbound was nominated for a best documentary Oscar, decided to follow up his critically-acclaimed look at several kids vying to become the next national spelling bee champion with a straight fictional narrative about a stutterer who's love for a girl leads him to seek out the highly-competitive world of high school debating.
We already reviewed Rocket Science when it premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival, and I'll be filing another review within the next couple days. In the meantime, while you count the seconds until Rocket Science opens in theaters this weekend, be sure to check out the following interview with Blitz in which he talks about the aforementioned sophomore pressure, why he likes stories featuring high school kids squaring off against one another in academic competitions, how close Rocket Science is to his own life and -- get this -- you might actually learn a bit about high school debating at the same time. More bang for your buck -- that's my motto. Anyway, enjoy.
Cinematical: Your first film, Spellbound, gets nominated for an Oscar. Is there pressure to follow it up with another doc?
Jeffrey Blitz: No pressure from the outside world, but I loved making Spellbound. The process of it was very exciting, and not just because it ended up doing so well -- but actually being on the road where it's sort of you against the world, in a way. It's a really exciting way to do it. There aren't layers of people to go through, you don't need to articulate your vision for the film every day to different people -- I did almost all the shooting on Spellbound and Sean Welch, who was my producing partner, did sound recording. And for the most part, it was just the two of us on the movie. That's like a really exciting, fun way to make movies. So, I want to kind of hop-scotch back and forth between fiction feature films and documentaries, if I can -- if I'm so lucky as to go on and make more movies.