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Interview: Morgan Spurlock

His Doc On Comic-Con Screens Tonight

Above: Morgan Spurlock's documentary, "Episode IV: Comic-Con A Fan's Hope."

I haven't been able to screen Morgan Spurlock's documentary "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope" (screening tonight at 8:30pm in Ballroom 20 at Comic-Con) and I am curious why the film about Comic-Con has screened elsewhere but in San Diego till tonight.

Since I haven't seen the film I can only speculate on what it might be. I was happy to hear that Joss WHedon ("Buffy," "The Avengers" and Marvel's Stan Lee were producing. But I have to admit, Morgan Spurlock was not someone I thought was well-suited to make a film about geek nirvana, Comic-Con International. When the film premiered at Toronto and then played Sweden and Santa Monica, well I was curious why the film about Comic-Con wouldn't be premiered here amongst the fans first. This strategy by either the studio or the filmmakers made me wonder who the film was made for and whether it would be able to capture the unique spirit of the convention.

Since I couldn't see the film, I decided I would talk to filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and see what he had to say.

Here's the trailer:

First of all, they weren't able to screen the film here in San Diego so let me just ask you, in making the documentary what was your goal, what did you want to capture about Comic-Con?

MORGAN SPURLOCK: For me I kind of wanted to kind of tell you know what I thought was kind of the heart and soul of what it is, which is the fans you know the people who you know go there for very specific reasons that they are very driven they're passionate and I think that that passion really comes out in the movie you know and it comes out really well with the people that we followed. Each one kind of representative of a different facet of The Con and yeah I mean I think that we were really fortunate we got great characters that we were able to follow in the film and I think that really makes the movie accessible and honest and real and it's great.

Now have you gone to Comic-Con for long ?

MS: No, the very first Con I went to would have been in 2009 when I got hired to do "The Simpsons" 20th Anniversary Special for Fox and when we went there as soon as... I'd been wanting to go for years like I'd never been able to was always working or something just didn't have the money whatever and then the minute we got hired to do that job I was like "We're going to Comic-Con!" I was like "We're going to Comic-Con, we're going to you know we're going to find Simpsons superfans.." and the minute we got there and started to just you know meeting the people and seeing what it was like seeing the spectacle I was like "this is a movie" like "this place is a movie we should do a film about this" and you know there we were a year later making the movie with Stan and Joss and Thomas Toll from Legendary Pictures i mean it was kind of amazing.

And when you went to that first Comic-Con what was it that kind of struck you about it, what kind of appealed to you most or kind of hooked your interest?

MS: Well, I mean I was a geek growing up you know I was a complete comic book nerd kid you know I loved horror films I loved video games so for me it spoke to so much of kind of shaped me into who I am as an adult. You know it just literally spoke to everything that I love from you know the people who are you know the artists over in artists alley who are creating their own art work to you know the people who are you know selling action figures the people who are making specials that are only available you know at The Con I mean there are just so many things that I loved about it but most of all I mean for me the heart of it was the people that were going there. The people who are there for specific reasons you know when I learned about you know kind of Comic-Con as geek job fair that there were people there trying to break into the comic book business or people trying to break into the costume design business in Hollywood by competing in the masquerade, I was like that's incredible, like I had no idea that that was even a facet of this place and so for me it was important that we kind of told those stories I think it really does show you a very different side of what The Con is. you know people have a very specific view they have very kind of stereotypical idea of who goes to The Con and I think what the film does a great job of doing is shattering those stereotypes.

What do you think that stereotype is?

MS: Well, I mean I think the stereotype that everyone has is you know the kid who lives alone or the kid who lives with his parents and sleeps in the basement and all he does is read comic books all day you know he's 30 years old doesn't have a job and you know are there some of those people there? probably you know but I do not think that represents the vast majority of the people that like to go to Comic-Con who for them this is you know it's geek vacation it's a chance to go and celebrate you know all these things that you love you know comics movies television shows you name it.

Now did you feel that the fact, that you had only been to one Con before, was that a plus or a minus?

MS: I mean I'd been to plenty of other Cons you know I mean I'd been to Cons all over the country but never to San Diego so I mean having been there in 2009 and kind of getting the lay of the land there and then you know doing the research by talking to so many other people before we went back you know i think that was why it was great having Stan and Josh produce the film with us as well as you know Harry Knowles and Thomas Toll I mean these are guys that have been to dozens of Cons you know between them all so I think that they were very kind of pragmatic in kind of helping us you know shape where they thought the great story lines would be or who where we should go or things we didn't want to miss, you know I thought that was, it was a real bonus having them be involved for that reason.

And did they take a very active role in terms of determining kind of what you shot?

MS: Well, especially in the beginning... well I mean I think in the beginning like the whole idea of shooting the masquerade like I think that came out of a conversation that we originally had with Joss, where Joss was like "oh you have to go to the masquerade" like I had no idea that, that that even existed. you know it was Stan who talked about the people who were going there trying to break in the comic book business that you know so he was the one who kind of pushed us towards you know kind of even knowing like I didn't even know that place existed that there were there people were there showing their portfolios and I talked to so many people who've gone to San Diego Comic-Con for years and they were like "wow, that goes on at the comic con, I had no idea" so for me I think that's it's its just a different piece that you are able to pull the curtain back on in a really unique way.

Now, after having the film made you know it screened everywhere pretty much except San Diego and except at Comic Con why wasn't there an effort to kind of like premiere it here...

MS: I mean that's a question for the distributor. I mean I don't dictate where the movie goes.

I remember when the film was being made there was talk that there was kind of like a casting call for the people that you ended up using in the film...

MS: Yeah, we sent a... we basically went through comic book shops and fan sites. We had about 2000 people submit to want to be in the film that we then narrowed down to the seven people that you see us follow in the movie.

Do you think the fact that you were there shooting changed some of what might have happened for some of these people?

MS: I mean I don't think it changed anything I mean I don't think I mean we got Se Young might have said no had we not been there shooting you know maybe she would have said no when he proposed if the cameras hadn't been rolling but no I mean I don't think the cameras... there's cameras all over that place you know there's people shooting things all the time that's happening at The Con so I mean I don't think I don't think what we do influenced anythings that happened with the people.

And did you shoot this all at the 2010?

MS: Everything, everything that's on screen was shot in 7 days.

And tell me what is going to be the films presence or your presence at this year's Comic-Con?

MS: We're showing the film on Thursday night in Ballroom 20 [at 8:30pm] which is kind of amazing you know that's where they have the masquerade so you know it will be the biggest showing that the films ever had. There will be like 4000 people there hopefully, hopefully it gets packed and I think it's gonna be exciting you know to kind of show this film to that audience at comic con is you know for me it's a dream come true to actually get to show this movie there so I'm beyond excited.

Comments

Avatar for user 'BD Cruz'

BD Cruz | July 12, 2012 at 4:52 p.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

I think @nerdist's podcast with Spurlock was similarly enlightening: http://www.nerdist.com/2012/03/morgan-spurlock-on-becoming-a-con-man/

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | July 12, 2012 at 10:06 p.m. ― 2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing the podcast.

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