Morgan Spurlock, engaging in geek speak about his new ‘Comic-Con’ documentary
In 2010, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) was given unfettered access to capture the scene and spirit of Comic-Con, which generates a torrent of media coverage and attracts thousands of pop culture geeks to San Diego each and every year.
The product of that access is his new documentary, “Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope,” which opens nowadays in select cities and through OnDemand, and April 13 at D.C.’s West End Cinema. In the course of a current telephone conversation, Spurlock shared a few insights about what the convention says about modern fandom and whether Comic-Con has reached a tipping point.
Following interviewing so many fans for this documentary, what do you consider explains the intensity of pop cultural devotion among the folks who attend Comic-Con?
Spurlock: I feel we’re at an exciting time in pop culture exactly where, you know, for years loving these items was almost looked down upon. This whole thought of develop up, turn out to be an adult, was something that was kind of preached at us and instilled upon us. What [filmmaker] Eli Roth says [in the film] is I believe quite precise. We had been sort of the very first generation that has now grown up who not only kept our toys, but it is okay to keep your toys. It’s okay to have these items simply because these factors are representative of something else. Number one, they’re a sort of connection to your past, connection to your passions, the point you really like. It’s what makes you who you are.
And now there’s a genuine sort of business in the planet about those things, whereas just before, toys were toys. People who created toys weren’t seen as individuals who had been that effective or cool. And now men and women who make video games and toys and motion pictures and Television shows — there’s a tremendous amount of acceptance around this sort of culture. … Now you have these people who, at 1 time, were really fringe, who are now really well-known. And their ideas and issues they really like are extremely common.
For me … what I’m interested in now and what I find to be thrilling is how that is transforming our society in a lot of approaches.
You mention the business opportunities geekdom represents. Comic-Con and geek culture is increasingly driven by commerce. But fans also are quite savvy about when they’re getting sold something that doesn’t come from an authentically nerdy location.
You can recognize as a fan when somebody is just attempting to make a buck. I feel that’s extremely evident. But I don’t think anyone faults somebody who — like a Marvel who kind of lives and breathes this company — Marvel coming in to sell you some thing about a character or a world or genre that you adore. You are not as upset by it because Marvel’s been carrying out it forever.
It’s suddenly when somebody comes in just to piggyback on, like a “Twilight” franchise or a thing, just to sell you that new widget that you’re going to take house with Robert Pattinson’s face on it. I feel that’s when it gets a little far more incestuous. I feel a lot of the fans can smell out a rat really simply.
Are we at a tipping point with this occasion? Final year, the year right after you shot your film, a number of film studios didn’t come to Comic-Con or didn’t do presentations about the franchises one particular might have expected.
Yeah, but I think there weren’t a lot of the bigger films for last year. Or most of them had been coming out — a lot of these bigger films came out before Comic-Con.
Properly, the studios commonly bring projects to Comic-Con a lot more than a year before their release.
Certain. I feel that what they realized is you need to take factors that are prepared to show and that you need to have a conversation about. You don’t want to take footage that’s sort of half-baked. You don’t want to tease items that aren’t very there. I feel a lot of men and women have learned their lessons in terms of showing factors ahead of their time.
Final year with what it was — folks had been like, we’re not going to show factors that do not make sense however. We don’t need to be there. I don’t think Hollywood is retreating. I think this year, that will be extremely evident. I believe the box workplace is also going to be evidence of that this year. This is going to be the greatest year for these varieties of movies, almost certainly in background, with “The Hunger Games” and “Avengers” and “Spider-Man” and “Batman.”
So studios are more careful simply because they don’t want to show up and make a mistake.
These are fans who will express their distaste really quickly and very easily. There’s an additional conversation individuals love to have all the time — what do you consider, are movies destroying Comic-Con? Is the film business coming in right here and destroying what Comic-Con is? Or they’re taking more than Comic-Con — that is the bigger 1 you hear. Motion pictures are taking more than Comic-Con.
The only thing that films take more than is press coverage of Comic-Con. Simply because somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that this is what every person in America wants to know. Everybody in the planet desires to know that Angelina showed up to promote her new film. So there’s that side of the conversation. There’s, “Here’s Angelina Jolie advertising her new film” and “Oh, look at these freaks in costume.” This is the coverage of Comic-Con. Like, that’s what we get.
And what the film does a fantastic job of showing is genuinely deepening that conversation and showing there’s so much much more going on there. I mean, there’s 6,000 folks in Hall H [where the high-profile Hollywood panels are held], but there’s 144,000 other folks at Comic-Con that aren’t in Hall H.
You had been to Comic-Con before shooting this film, right?
The 1st time I was there was the year before, in 2009. I’d been wanting to go for so long. I had been to other Cons. I had in no way been to San Diego.
I’d wanted to go for years and years, and I was just hired to do “The Simpsons” 20th anniversary particular for Fox. As soon as we got hired for that job, I was like, we’re going to Comic-Con. We’re going to Comic-Con and we’re going to cast for “Simpsons” superfans, we’re going to have people come out and profess their love for all factors Homer. If we’re going to locate “Simpsons” fans, they’re going to be there. And I was genuinely — I had such a excellent time, and I just felt, there’s a larger story to be told about this spot. Since I felt like there’s so a lot that is not talked about at Comic-Con. Then later that night, I met Stan Lee and that’s when Stan said, “We should make a movie about Comic-Con.” And I mentioned, “Yes, we must, Mr. Lee.”
A year later, there we had been at Comic-Con producing a movie with Stan Lee and Joss Whedon and Thomas Tull and Harry Knowles — I mean, it was wonderful. Issues like that don’t take place.
They normally do not let individuals capture footage to the extent that you were in a position to do.
They’ll let news crews come in but in terms of giving the access to the extent that we got — which was quite significantly carte blanche across the board, anyplace we wanted to shoot, from loading docks to interior, exteriors, meetings, conversations — it was exceptional. And it is the initial time ever. When I spoke to the board of trustees, a friend of mine who’s on the board and has been there for 25 years said, each year, somebody’s come and asked for permission to make a documentary about Comic-Con. And they’ve always mentioned no. And I consider they would have said no to me as effectively had I not already had Stan and Joss on board.
It gave a tremendous credibility appropriate from the starting. Right here was the old guard and the new guard essentially saying we think and trust this guy’s going to tell the story we all think is the correct one particular.
If an individual has never ever been to Comic-Con, why would this film interest him or her?
I believe what you realize is that in today’s culture, there is some thing at Comic-Con for all of us. Like, I could take my mom to Comic-Con now and she would be ecstatic about one thing. “Oh my God, there’s Ray Bradbury signing an autograph. Is that George Takei from ‘Star Trek?’ ”
There would be items there that would get her so excited. I believe that there’s a planet of men and women who already know and enjoy this really properly. There’s a planet of folks who never go to Comic-Con, who want to go that would want to see this. Separate from that, I feel there are men and women who are portion of this culture but don’t have the potential to openly express it, and I feel this film is for the geek in all of us. Believe it or not, there is a geek in each single one particular of us.