Avid Presents a Conversation with Morgan Spurlock at NAB 2015

Published on in Industry Announcements / Events

In this session at NAB, Morgan Spurlock gives insight on his documentary films. He shares what filmmakers can take away from following their dreams, having confidence to follow through and sharing insight on issues going on in the world with our communities. 

Morgan Spurlock is an American documentary filmmaker, humorist, television producer, screenwriter, and political activist, best known for the documentary films Super Size Me, Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope and One Direction: This Is Us. Spurlock was the executive producer and star of the reality television series 30 Days. On June 2013, he became host and producer of the CNN show Inside Man. He is also the co-founder of short-film content marketing company cinelan, which produced the Focus Forward campaign for GE. 

Spurlock shares with the audience: 

There's a fine line between being original and being a crazy person. We should be thinking differently, but how do we do that successfully? By living outside of the group think box.

You have to be ready and willing to take criticism. I was the youngest of 3 ballet dancing brothers, which is probably the least cool thing to do  in West Virginia. It does not get less cooler then that, but my mom and dad gave me the confidence to be in a leotard at age of 6. 

Make sure you surround yourself with people who believe in you and your vision. Have persistence of vision and stick to it when naysayers are telling you you are making a mistake. 

When it came to my "Supersize Me" idea, people said  it was stupidest thing ever, but I didn't let that stop me.  


You want to make film that can generate a conversation. 

What happened with "Supersize  Me" transcended our expectations – how it impacted the individuals was amazing to watch. For example, long island middle school kids saw it and it opened their eyes to see that they get junkfood at school and they then boycotted the school lunch program. After doing so, all the junk food and soda was taken out of the school. The film empowered them to want to make a change. 


How do we create something with potential to affect change?

You can't plan for change, but you CAN plan for impact on how you hope to affect change. I sold "Supersize Me" as an educational version to teachers at crazy low price point of $39.99 to  make it accessible. You want everyone to be able to have access to your message -greatest thing you can do. 

It transformed me and what I believed in myself. Had sense of myself at age 30, but this gave me a sense of purpose. 


"The two most important days of your life...the day you were born and the day you found out why."

In film school I wasn't planning on making documentaries, until I saw the movie "Scanners" in theaters and it inspired me to want to make movies like that.

The "30 days" series started during the time when minimum wage was rising. So I sent an episode to legislators, then got it into hands of lawmakers who had the ability to raise the minimum wage. The show became a lightning rod. I wanted people to own the conversation, we were just the tool. It was pretty remarkable to affect change on a much more personal level. 

The episode "Straight Man in a Gay World"  was about a homophobic guy who moved in with gay roommates as an educational experiment. The results opened his mind and by end of the clip he was touting off wine and cheese facts. A viewer name Ed stopped the man on the show on the street and said, " The first time my parents have called me in seven years was when they saw your show last night". 


Own your derivative space 
Work the content tail, and turn that business into more business and opportunity for a longer content path.  Always ask yourself "How can we can continue to make it resonate in a new way / story?"

"The greatest movie ever sold" was a movie about advertising paid for by advertising. Sell, sell, and sell. A great quote from the film: "Where can I go to not see one bit of advertising? (The answer?) To sleep."  

The movie received 1 billion impressions before it even aired at Sundance in 2011. It was a popular topic on how much we are being constantly manipulated by content. They then took that idea and spun it off to do "the greatest ted talks ever sold" and it won a golden lion at Cannes. 

Co-founder of Microsoft /Vulcan productions, Paul wanted to make an economy film. People thought nobody would care, nobody would watch that. So I worked with him to create "we the economy," a 20 short films you can’t afford to miss. The people who worked on the film were an incredible eclectic group of amazing filmmakers. They make you laugh, are smart and make you think & they all jumped at chance to work on the film with a 150k budget. They transcended the conversation


"Why is healthcare so expensive?" 

Back in the day...people went to hospitals to die. Then, later they went there to get better due to hospital insurance and factories needed the workers to be well while the rest of the world did the opposite and let government handle healthcare. Why didn't we? Maybe because we didn’t trust the federal government.

Spurlock now has a shown on CNN called "Inside Man" which dives into issues like education, 99 percent, guns, student athlete, trash, zoos, etc. with the 4th season coming up in few weeks. He said he is proud of the gamut covered on the show.

image courtesy of Google

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