Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Morgan Spurlock

Morgan Spurlock, director of Super Size Me came for yesterday's master class. Spurlock was a very engaging and funny speaker and has a really great story of how hard work and some luck can go a long way.

Spurlock spoke of his days before creating Super Size Me, when he was $250,000 in debt to credit card companies from various endeavors. He and his friends only had $50,000 and decided to use that money toward the making of the film which surprised them with its success at Sundance. From there they had a hard time finding someone to distribute the film because they were afraid to go up against McDonald's. Of course we know the rest of the story: the success of the film and the healthy eating/weight loss movement it sparked in the nation and with McDonald's.

Before Super Size Me, Spurlock was best known as a playwright and creator of the MTV show I Bet You Will. After the success of Super Size Me, Spurlock went on to produce and star in the reality show 30 Days, which involves a premise similar to Super Size Me in that it involves a lifestyle change lasting 30 days. The point of the show was to bring up relevant social issues and make people "think", which Spurlock says is the reason the show was turned down by all the major networks he spoke to. Networks don't want "sad" or "thought-provoking" or "controversial", according to Spurlock. This is what led him to approach FX who has been airing the show since 2005 and is approaching its last season.

Since 2005 Spurlock has filmed/premiered another documentary Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? which received great reviews in test screenings but ultimately disappointed the public at Sundance. The film is about the fight against terrorism and we viewed a clip of the film in the master class which looked pretty interesting. Spurlock still defends the film.

With the final season of 30 Days coming up, Spurlock's next upcoming project is an adaptation of the book Freakonomics. Overall Spurlock's visit was mostly a discussion of his projects and some clips, but what you took away was a sense of accomplishment from Spurlock. He talked about paying back all of his debts and the people he owed who worked for him before Super Size Me. Morgan Spurlock's story of overnight success and what has followed is not only a happy one, but an inspiring one that says documentaries can gain commercial success.

1 comment:

  1. Great insights and what a wonderful opportunity to see him in person!