'Super Size Me' Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock On His New Project
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- "I just had a burger," Morgan Spurlock said as he sat down. "It was my second lunch."
It was a fitting way to begin an interview with Spurlock, the documentary filmmaker perhaps best known for chowing down on Big Macs and French fries in the movie "Super Size Me."
Spurlock has shocked, surprised, grossed-out, and won over audiences with his willingness to put himself in environments he describes as "quite difficult and at the same time quite dangerous," from coal mines to jail cells to war zones.
Though Spurlock is still eating fast food, he said there are new limits on what he would do and where he would go for his films.
"Now that I have my son, I would not go back to a war zone," Spurlock said, referencing the time he spent in the Middle East filming his documentary "Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?" "Now it's about making calculated risks versus throwing caution to the wind."
In his latest film, "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," Spurlock spends his time in board rooms rather than deserts as he dissects the wild world of branding and advertising in an effort to "make you aware of what goes into the marketing of everything," Spurlock explained.
The documentary follows Spurlock's attempts to create a film bankrolled exclusively via product placement and marketing within the movie itself. Despite the advertising that blankets our cities, subways, media, and even celebrities, Spurlock found attracting brands to be a major challenge.
Why the difficulty?
"My idea had one fatal flaw and that flaw was this," Spurlock said during his presentation at the TED conference, displaying a photo (NSFW) of a buxom blonde in a see-through shirt. He noted the picture was one of the first results that appeared in a Google image search for "transparency." "I like the way you roll, Sergey Brin," Spurlock joked.
On a more serious note, Spurlock said he hopes his latest film will showcase the need for companies to embrace greater transparency, an element he found missing in his travels through corporate America.
"Today, more than ever, a little honesty will go a long way," he said.
He elaborated during an interview with The Huffington Post, "Now is the real time when [companies] must to realize that they need to make cognizant steps toward an open stream of information and an honest flow of information. People will respect that."
Spurlock noted that social media, by enabling individuals to connect, communicate, and broadcast their opinions, is offering new checks and balances on corporations and forcing executives to listen and be accountable to consumers in novel, powerful ways.
The curtain that obscured shady business practices will "become a cheesecloth," Spurlock predicted.
"You will see more people who'll be able to create an instant groundswell of anger simply because we belong together. There will be tribes of people that have similar ideas and outlooks as to what should be happening in the world that will begin to affect real power and change," he said. "You're going to see them really start to wield that [power] toward...companies who mislead, who misuse power, and who abuse the environment."
Yet tools like Twitter and Facebook also give companies an unprecedented avenue through which to speak with customers.
"In today's world of social media, companies need to realize that they have an opportunity to engage people on a real one-to-one level, in a real, honest, personal, conversational sort of way," he said.
The filmmaker described his own brand--which he prefers to call his "identity" or "mission statement"--in terms of what he hopes to accomplish through his films.
"I want to try to make things that are smart and engaging and entertaining. You'll learn something, but you'll laugh and cry at the same time," he said. "It'll go down tasting like cotton candy, but it will have the impact of spinach."