Morgan Spurlock first made his mark with his 2004 directorial debut Super Size Me, where he famously challenged himself to eat solely McDonald’s fare for a month to reveal the unhealthy results. The break-out hit documentary – made on a $65,000 budget – tallied a total gross, domestic and foreign, of over $20 million, according to Box Office Mojo, and was nominated for an Academy Award for best doc feature.
With that under his belt, Spurlock created the 2005 series 30 Days for FX Channel, where he served as EP and host. In 2008, Spurlock returned to features with Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden, a search for the world’s most elusive fugitive.
Starting Cinelan in 2008 with entrepreneur David Wales, the project helped fund three-minute documentaries that are then syndicated on assorted digital platforms. “We are currently partnering with a cinema chain for distribution this year,” says Spurlock. “Now more viewers will see these amazing short documentaries as they play in front of large theatrical releases. I’m so excited this is finally happening because if basic cable TV shows can have spots before a movie, surely there’s room for some great three-minute docs.”
In 2010, he helmed the TV special, The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice! which was neither in 3D nor on ice. The same year, he directed Freakonomics alongside Alex Gibney, Eugene Jarecki, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. The year ahead for Spurlock includes The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a “fun, twisting and eye-opening movie” about product placement set to premiere at Sundance, and Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan’s Hope.
What were the high points of the past decade for you?
The decade began with me being evicted from my apartment and sleeping in a hammock in my office. I accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card debt post 9/11 to keep my production company going. Just when the collectors and bankers and doubts were closing in, we made Super Size Me. After that, I was able to pay off all our debt, repay our employees and move forward with a real sense of purpose. In the last five years, we have distributed nine films with various partners that were made by other visionary directors, and I hope we can do even more in the years ahead.
How do you see non-fiction TV and film changing in the near future?
I think that in the years ahead, the web will become a larger place to develop and nurture ideas, both fiction and non-fiction. Creative freedom will start to outweigh immediate paydays and artists will want ownership and autonomy. I also believe that there will be a step toward even smarter primetime non-fiction programming. While we continue to be fed healthy diets of Jersey Shore and The Biggest Loser (shows I can’t turn off once I start watching!), I think there will also be growth around rewarding programs. Shows that will make you laugh, stir emotions and at the same time, make you think without tasting like medicine. These are the types of projects that I love working on and continue to be attracted to.