Thursday, October 20, 2011

Supersize Dreams

One evening this week at the university I listened to Morgan Spurlock talk about the making of his last documentary "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold." Morgan is fascinating and a sharp thinker. 

He's witty too, which I love.

(This is the same guy that made the movie "Super Size Me" - perhaps you've heard of it?)

Besides the fact that companies actually paid money to place their product in a documentary that exposes the practice of placing products in films - it's more extensive than you realize. And besides the fact that no company was willing to do that in Morgan's latest film until some company agreed to do it first. (Ban deodorant got the ball rolling - no pun intended.) Besides all of that, it was a personal story of his that fascinated me most.

When Morgan was trying to get his NY-based film company off the ground he was going in the hole financially month after month. He knew he had some brilliant ideas. And he got nibbles on his projects and pilots but nothing had gone to contract.

He had great credit, so he just started charging everything on credit cards. Business stuff. Personal stuff.  Then he started paying his employees with advances on his credit cards. He racked up $250,000 in debit. Creditors were calling.

That's enough debit to make anyone without the last name Trump a bit nervous.

With new sources of credit drying up and Morgan on the verge of financial collapse, he made "Super Size Me." The film was a huge success - followed by additional successes.

His is a satisfying story because it turns out well. Rather than giving up on his dreams, he was willing to do whatever it took to see them through. What dedication.  What guts. What a success story.

But what if he'd failed? What if he hadn't gotten the idea and/or funding for "Super Size Me." Or what if that film flopped? What would we say about him then? A broke guy with nothing to show for those years.  What stupidity. What an idiot. What a ridiculous story.

We tend to judge decisions - the merit of someone's choices - on the outcome of those decisions.  Good outcome, good idea. Bad outcome, bad idea.

Even his big success generator, "Super Size Me," was an exercise in rather extreme risk. Morgan ate himself sick on fast food just to prove a point and make a movie about it.

What point am I trying to make here?  It's not clear.  I just know I'm fascinated by Morgan's story.  And though it fits the satisfying rags-to-riches genre, I don't really think the wisdom of one's decisions can be judged solely on the outcome.

I'm really glad, however, that Morgan is making films. Have you seen any of them?

(Besides the two mentioned here, he made another documentary called "What Would Jesus Buy?" about consumerism and Christmas.)


  1. Rachel,

    I have never seen any of his movies, but he had a reality type show that I really liked watching, I am sorry I can't remember the name of it now. One week the show documented him spending a month living on minimum wage and the challenges of it, another week he spent time in prison, he a few on exploring the differences between christianity and atheism, muslim, and alternative faiths, I am not a fan of reality tv, but his show was really quite good.

  2. Hi Rachel,

    I saw Morgan's film SuperSize Me, but never knew he made more documentaries. With the Christmas title, it makes me wonder where he is at with God stuff? Curious.

    Nice to "talk" with you again.

    Jennifer Dougan

  3. I have only watched Supersize Me. Wow what a story!


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