04/05/2012 03:23 pm ET

Morgan Spurlock, 'Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope' Director On Just How Close He Was To Finding Osama Bin Laden

Morgan Spurlock wants you to know that he does not make a single appearance in his new film, "Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope." In other words: if you don't like Morgan Spurlock, don't worry; you will not see him bouncing around Comic Con, making fun of the outlandishness of its presence or "blowing the roof off" of some sort of unknown seedy undercurrent. No, If you do see "Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope," you'll be watching one of the, for lack of a better word, sweetest films to be released this year.

Spurlock's new documentary follows five individuals as they embark on pilgrimages to 2010's San Diego Comic Con: Chuck, a comic book dealer who feels pushed out by the movie studios; Holly, a costume designer competing in the highly competitive Masquerade; two illustrators, Skip and Eric, hoping to be discovered; and James, who wants to propose to his girlfriend, Se Young. (Again, no Spurlock.) Here, Morgan Spurlock discusses the lack of himself in this film and reveals just how close he really was to finding Osama bin Laden.

(When I met Spurlock, he had a large collection of USA Todays spread over his table.)

I don't know what your next project is, but, if I'm USA Today, I'd be worried.
[Laughs] There is a lot of USA Today out here today.

I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but one of the best things about this documentary is the fact that you're not in it.
Yeah, I agree. Which was my whole plan from the beginning. For me, it was important to kind of tell their story and not tell the story of me making a movie about these people. That's not what it is. We met with four or five different investors and the investors would be like, "OK, great. We'll give you the money, but we want you to be in it." And I said, "Well, we'll find the money somewhere else."

On the surface, I can see their point. You're known for being in them. Was there any thought of being it it? Even from the beginning?
Never. Unless I was going to be "passer-by-number-seven" in a Stormtrooper outfit -- where you never know it's me and I just wander through frames.

Did you want to put on the poster: "I'm not in this."
[Laughs] Well, that's what I tell people. People are like, "I really haven't liked any of your movies," and I'm like, "Well, you're going to love this one."

I think there are people who are worried that you're just doing this film to make fun of Comic Con.
Well, that's why the title of your article needs to be, "Morgan Spurlock Is Not In This Movie."

This is a much sweeter film than I was expecting.
Other movies in the past, "Trekkies," you name it -- none of those films really humanized the people that are in it. I think the film does a really good job of making these people real people. The vicarious journey that you go on with these people, I think, is really rich.

With your involvement, there's also a tendency to think, "Oh, he's going to blow the lid off of this thing."
"What's he exposing about Comic Con now?"

It's a bit esoteric, and it is addressed in the film, but did you consider doing a film about how the movie studios kind of run the show now?
But I disagree with that. After making this film, I disagree with that. Do you know what studios have taken over? Studios have taken over your coverage of Comic Con. We live in a world now where celebrity culture is what drives ink.

Well, I work for a movie site. We probably wouldn't be covering it at all without their presence.
Oh, I know. But why tell the story about the guy who's going to create his own comic book? Or launch his own label? Look, here are the two sides that you get: "Look at the weirdos in their costumes again," and, "Look, there's Angelina Jolie." Those are the stories we get. For me, there are 6,000 people in Hall H at Comic Con; there are 145,000 that are there experiencing a very different Comic Con than we get to see.

In this film, there are two separate illustrators who attend Comic Con in an attempt to get discovered. One, Skip, is from Columbia, MO, and I went to school there -- so I was rooting for him…
And you're rooting for him because he's got these two great geeky parents who are "Star Trek" fans.

So, I see his work, and I don't know what I'm talking about, but it looked good to me. Then we meet the illustrator from North Dakota, Eric, and he's on another level. Did you pick them for that reason? It's a documentary, but you knew that there would be conflicting arcs and results for the two.
Well, you look at Eric's work and Eric's work looks much more seasoned. But Eric, also, does not have the personality of Skip. Eric is much more reserved. So, I was like, even with good work, if he's not able to go out and sell himself, is he going to be able to make it happen? Then, there's Skip, who'd very gregarious and loves to put himself out there with his work -- which needs more work. So, we felt there was a balance between them, even though one's work is so much stronger.

But the results weren't surprising for you.
They weren't surprising to me, but what it does show is that there are a lot more people there who are like Skip then there are who are like Eric. Skip just saw the film and he's from Columbia, MO, and the whole town was basically there and Skip got a staining ovation. It was amazing.

It pissed me off the Skip works at a sci-fi themed bar. The whole movie I was thinking, When I was in school, where was this place? I would have been there every night.
There's a geek night with video games. It's amazing.

Now that Osama bin Laden is gone, when you were filming "Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?"...
You're welcome, President Obama.

Well, that's the thing. Did you have had a good sense where he was and that the reason for not getting him was more how it would affect foreign relations with Pakistan as opposed to "no one knows where he is"
We were shooting in Northern Islamabad and we were probably about 20 miles from where they found him.

Did you know that? Or at least have a gut feeling?
Well, people told us! People were pointing at the same place on a map. They were pointing us toward Waziristan, much more than they were pointing us toward Northern Islamabad, so, could he have been there when we were shooting four or five years ago? Possibly. But, I felt we were close.

Was your conclusion on his whereabouts at the time based on the fear of political ramifications of invading another country?
Yeah. I think that was a lot of it. There had to be people in Pakistan who knew where he was and knew that he was right there -- as we were giving this government a billion dollars. Billions of dollars every year basically to harbor a fugitive. It was terrible.

Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com, and GQ.com. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter