“I am a huge comic book fan. I grew up a super comic book geek as a kid and so I am doing a movie that looks at the world of comic pop culture, movies, comics, video games etc. so we are finishing that right now.” _Morgan Spurlock_
Morgan Spurlock: 50 Documentaries To See Before You Die
New York based writer, director and producer.
Super Size Me | 30 Days | Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden | Confessions of a Superhero | Czech Dream | Chalk | The Future of Food | What Would Jesus Buy? | Freakonomics |The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3-D! On Ice! | The Greatest Movie Ever Sold | Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan’s Hope
By: Judith Wallace
Current TV will premiere the new original series, “50 Documentaries To See Before You Die,” on Tuesday, August 9, at 9pm. Hosted by renowned documentarian Morgan Spurlock, this five part series examines how, over the last quarter-century, the documentary feature has evolved into an increasingly mainstream genre, becoming a major box office draw and impacting society and contemporary American culture in ways never seen before. The series will highlight game-changers like “Roger & Me” and “The Thin Blue Line,” both dating back to the late 80s, as well as more recent fare including “Catfish” and the Academy Award winning “Inside Job.”
50 Documentaries To See Before You Die…
Morgan Spurlock: Current TV gets a whole panel of experts, people from the international documentary association, college professors, varied experts in the field who all weighed in. These are not my opinions, all I did was come in and convey this list that a much smarter panel of experts came up with.
Who was the most interesting documentarian you met while traveling?
Morgan Spurlock: I Love Steve James I think that guy is just an icon of documentary cinema, I think he is an inspiration for filmmakers. He is someone who anytime you meet him he is supportive, genuine, open,and humble. He is a huge inspiration to me as filmmaker and a human being. So just to get to spend time with someone like that, to get to share his story with the people who are watching was a real gift for me.
What are some of the elements a documentary must have for you to deem it a great documentary?
Morgan Spurlock: I think it’s got to have a great story, amazing characters and are filled with surprises. I think a that great documentary is just like a good movie it keeps you guessing. Unless it is a historical documentary where it’s basically replaying stuff we already know. I think that a good Doc like a good film is something that is original that kind of takes you by surprise.
What’s your thought process when making a documentary?
Morgan Spurlock: Well there is a lot of crying involved (laughs), there is a lot of hard stuff involved. Trying to find money to make it, you are begging for the money you know it’s a hard process. It is usually very long, very arduous. From the time we get an idea until the movie being finished, on average its about two and a half years. So the biggest thing is that its got to be an idea that you love, that you are dedicated to, that you want to be married to for the long haul. So for us there is a tremendous amount of development, lots of research. We try to uncover as much as we can about the topic, the people, whatever it may be and then we start filming. But there is a lot of work that goes into it.
Is there a difference between how documentaries were made let’s say 25 years ago compared to today?
Morgan Spurlock: I think that the form has continued to change just like film and cinema has changed in general. In the world of documentaries we get a bad rap because we are always put in the category and that’s all it is. Whereas if you talk about films you can have drama, comedy, thrillers and I think in the world of documentaries there are thrillers, dramas, comedies as well. They are movies that have a tremendous amount of heart and I think that the genre have grown over the last couple of decades. You have seen it expand into these worlds even more, and that is what I love about it. You have seen the real entertainment value and I think quality of the film making just jumped exponentially.
What is your favorite documentary of all time?
Morgan Spurlock: My favorite documentary of all time is the movie by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky called Brother’s Keeper. It was a film that came out about eight or nine years ago or maybe longer than that. I think it came out about 1991. It is the story of this small town murder with these three brothers who all live together and what unfolds over the course of this movie is remarkable. It’s one of the greatest movies you will ever see.
Tell us about the Greatest Movie Ever Sold that premiered to great reviews at the Sundance Film Festival.
Morgan Spurlock: It is all about product placement marketing and advertising that was completely paid for and made possible by product placement and advertising. It was the first time ever in the history of movies that we made a film that was actually in profit before the film was ever released, which is pretty remarkable. We are proud of the film; its out in theatres now and its going to continue to make its way out and around the world right now.
When you make a documentary what do you hope that people will take away from it?
Morgan Spurlock: It depends on the film. I think that the biggest thing is you hope people learn something. You hope people walk away either thinking something a little bit different or looking at the world a little different. You hope that maybe they are playing the movie over in their head and that they are examining the way that they look at something. You also hope that it shifts the way that they are thinking on some level. That is the most important thing for me.
What other projects are you currently working on?
Morgan Spurlock: I am finishing up a movie about Comic – Con. I am a huge comic book fan. I grew up a super comic book geek as a kid and so I am doing a movie that looks at the world of comic pop culture, movies, comics, video games etc., so we are finishing that right now.