The winner of the 2012 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, Undefeated, was shot using hand-held cameras without much technical equipment or many crew members. T.J. Martin and Dan Lindsay, who directed, filmed, and edited the movie, spent 9 months on site in North Memphis shooting over 500 hours of footage. This allowed them to be flies on the wall and capture a true experience.
The film follows the 2009 season of the Manassas High School football team — which has never won a playoff game and is part of a majorly underfunded and underperforming school district — and the volunteer coach who helps them succeed athletically, academically, and personally. Although that synopsis sounds like so many other “sports movies,” Undefeated is able to capture more of a real, uncensored story. It focuses on the personal stories of the coach and three of the players, although it does also follow the team as a whole.
Dan Lindsay says that their low-impact filming style allowed them to get closer to their subjects. “I think the size of our cameras and the fact that we didn’t have a boom operator, a sound mixer, and all of those other crew members…we just became part of the team,” he explains in an interview with Complex.
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