Watch Morgan Spurlock’s “The greatest TED Talk ever sold” talk at TED
Morgan Spurlock makes documentary film and TV that is personal, political — and, above all, deeply empathetic.
Though it was as high-concept as any reality-TV show, Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 film Super Size Me was something else entirely: a critique of modern fast-feeding, wrapped in the personal story of a charming, curious host. And “host” can be taken literally: eating only McDonald’s for 30 days straight, Spurlock went into a shocking physical and emotional decline, showing via his own body the truth about junk food. After this Oscar-nominated doc came Spurlock’s three-seasons-long unscripted TV show, 30 Days, based on another lifehack: Send a person to live, for 30 days, inside another worldview. Stories from 30 Days are human, engaging, surprising: An anti-immigrant activist warms to a tight-knit family of border-crossers; an outsourced US engineer meets the Indian engineer who holds his old job; a former pro football player spends 30 days navigating the world in a wheelchair.
In 2008, Spurlock released Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?, about his months-long trek through Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Palestine … following leads and interviewing people along the way. (In an interview, he guessed he got within 50 miles of Osama before winding up the hunt.) He was also part of a group-filmed version of Freakonomics. He wrote a book about his fast-food odyssey, called Don’t Eat This Book — while his wife, vegan chef Alex Jamieson, wrote a bestseller about the eight-week cleansing diet she put Spurlock on after he got supersized.
His latest film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, dives into the mysterious world of brand sponsorship, a major influence on how pop culture is developed and shared. Almost totally sponsored itself, the film was the first to be sold at Sundance 2011, and, it’s said, made a profit before it even opened. The film debuts in US theaters on April 22, 2011.