In this Q&A with documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, we go behind-the-scenes of "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold." What are the lessons learned from product placement? And how did OK Go get to be "The Greatest Rock Band to Ever Write a Theme Song"?
1) Why did you decide to dive into product placement as a documentary subject?
The idea came after watching a particularly bad episode of Heroes where the cheerleader was given the family car and it felt like I was watching a commercial. My producing partner Jeremy Chilnick and I talked about it (and all the other bad examples we'd seen in movies and TV) as well as the pervasiveness of marketing and advertising. So, that was when we decided to make a film that would pull the curtain back on the industry and actually get them to pay for it.
2) How did you choose your interview subjects?
Whenever we get an idea, we compile a giant wishlist of people we'd love to talk to as part of it. Some of them come through (Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, JJ Abrams) and some of them don't (Michael Bay, Jon Favreau, any A-List actor.)
3) What was the strangest thing that happened during the shoot?
Brands actually wrote to checks to us to make this film!
4) Music plays a prominent role, how and why?
Music is movies. They set the tone, drive the story and convey emotion. We wanted to music to compliment my journey, and you can notice it changing as I go, from classical at the beginning to pop at the end. hat musical transition was important to me as it helps feed on the idea of "buying in."
5:)How did OK Go end up writing a theme song for the film?
My music supervisor, Jonathan McHugh (I call him "Q" cause he's like my 007 secret weapon creator), set up a meeting with all the big music acts in the film (Big Boi, OK Go, Matt & Kim, Moby). He and I met with OK Go in December while we were crunching to get the movie done for Sundance and while they were on tour. I showed them what I had so far of the movie and they loved it and what it had to say, so when I asked them if they'd be willing to do the theme song ("The Greatest Song I Ever Heard"), they gladly jumped on board.
6) Who put together the Matt & Kim/Big Boi Mash-up that closes the film?
That mash up was done by an LA-based musical genius named Ruwanga (also a Q find). I love what he did with that track and am so excited to get it out in the world. The guy is a star.
7) Did you come out of the filming process with a different opinion of product placement?
I think it can work in certain environments, not sure about how it would work in docs in the future, but for me, if a film is based in "reality" then it should have real world things in it. Just don't shove that shit down my throat and turn it into a commercial.
8) From what Big Boi said, are in some ways, products and corporate America patrons of the arts?
There have always been patrons of the arts, and brands have been shepherding talent through the ranks since the early days of radio. What you want to make sure of however is that their message and influence don't steal the thunder (or bite) of your creation. Art should not be about selling widgets.
9:)You have a lot of cool, eclectic music in the film. How did it all come together?
My partner Jeremy found a lot, as did my editor Tom Vogt, but the ace in the hole for us was Jonathan Zalben. That guy found some of the greatest (and cheapest!) tracks for us to use that were perfect for the movie. Music will only make a good movie better.
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