Morgan Spurlock has always been considered one of the most adventurous filmmakers of the modern era. He first rose to fame with his groundbreaking documentary Super-Size Me where he put himself in physical danger in order to prove how harmful fast food can be on the human body. In his latest feature, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, he dives deep into to the heart of geekdom at the San Diego Comic Convention.
Press Pass LA sat down with Spurlock to discuss what drove him to make such a unique movie. “The very first time I went to the San Diego Comic-Con was for a Simpsons episode we were doing. We wanted some reactions from fans and I told my producer we have to go to the convention,” he explains passionately. “I was just so overwhelmed and I said, this is a movie! We have to do this.”
For those that have never been, the San Diego Comic Convention is considered a pop culture mecca. The convention brings out everyone from celebrities making announcements about their latest science fiction films to cosplay fans taking part in costume contests throughout the weekend.
“After that I talked to Joss Whedon over breakfast. Once I told him we would do it in a respectful way that wouldn’t patronize the people that come to the event- once he was on board- we found investors and started making the film,” says Spurlock.
In a rare change of form, this movie marks the first time Spurlock has not spent the duration of the film in front of the camera. “From the minute we started, I knew I wanted it to be completely about them. I’m a huge geek and the movie shows you these incredibly passionate people that do have their shit together. I wanted to show that they aren’t the stereotypes we imagine,” he divulges.
The film follows the lives of five people with diverse backgrounds as they prepare for and eventually descend upon Comic-Con. There’s the veteran comic book vendor that is trying to make a profit at an event that is now marginalizing his medium, young and aspiring artists that use the convention as a means of breaking into the business, and ambitious collectors who will do anything to get the items on their lists.
“We had over two thousand entries of people that wanted us to follow them and we narrowed it down from there. For me it was trying to find the characters there with a specific goal, not just hanging out. Each one of these characters in the film has real stakes, some higher than others,” he notes.
Being able to tell so many stories at once became a juggling act for Spurlock. “There were 150 people on the film and 25 cameras rolling at any given moment. We had our own war room for meetings and I would spend the day bouncing from shoot to shoot. We ended up doing 12-hour days and then screened footage for three or four hours before editing it as we went,” explains Spurlock. “I think we only got like three hours of sleep each night but the whole movie was shot within a week. It is a very effective way to make a movie and though it was a completely different experience for me to shoot that way, it was by far one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
The film is being released on DVD and Blu-Ray on July 10 just in time for the 2012 San Diego Comic Convention. “There were so many interviews that we just had to cut for the theatrical release that fans will finally be able to see on the DVD. We had some great conversations with people like Nathan Fillion, Jerry Robinson, and Felicia Day that I wish we could have put in there but thankfully are going to be on the special features,” he reveals.
As an added bonus, those that buy the special edition of the DVD also get their very own Morgan Spurlock and Joss Whedon action figures. “When I was told they wanted to make action figures of us for the movie I had to admit that was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever had in my life,” jokes Spurlock.
Watch the trailer.