TED Conversations

Morgan Spurlock

Warrior Poets

TEDCRED 200+

This conversation is closed.

I'm online and will be here for the next hour to answer any questions you may have. Thanks - Morgan

Am live from Ashland, OR - will be online from 12-1 PM EST

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    Apr 9 2011: Thanks for taking the time everyone - its been a lot if fun. Have a great weekend!
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    Apr 9 2011: Hello Morgan!
    First, I just want to say I am a huge fan of your documentary work. I think you have a very engaging and accessible style that makes whatever issue you are presenting understandable to the average Joe or Jane.

    The main thing I want to ask is this: Do you have any tips for small filmmakers to find funding for their projects? I've been working on a documentary with a small group of friends for about a year now and we are finally ready to do more than edit small clips in our home.

    Thank you for your time!
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      Apr 9 2011: Knock on every door you can. Call anyone you can. There will be dozens of more people who won't want to give you money for projects, but in the end, you only need a few who line up with your vision.
  • Apr 9 2011: Mr. Spurlock, your films focus on experiences that are dangerous and misunderstood. Have you ever considered a film on public education, perhaps from the perspective of a teacher?
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      Apr 9 2011: I was in development on a film about education with A&E where I was going to become a school teacher for an entire year. As the son of an educator and having 3 aunts who were all teachers, I wanted to show the difficult tasks they face on a daily basis. Then, instead of making that film, they greenlit the series "Teach" with Tony Danza.
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    Apr 9 2011: Morgan you're the man. What were you thinking when the Ban marketing team had trouble describing their brand? Specifically when Beth Jones defined it as being a "superior technology"...
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      Apr 9 2011: Well, I immediately envisioned rubbing my blackberry in my armpit, since I consider it to be superior technology, but then I realized, I don't want superior technology in my armpit.
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    Apr 9 2011: Who are your documentary heroes and why?
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      Apr 9 2011: I love Steve James - he's an amazing filmmaker and person. Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky made my fave doc of all time (Brother's Keeper), and Michael Moore and Errol Morris changed this world for all of us.
      • Apr 9 2011: LOVE Michael Moore because he is SO polarizing - don't you think he has become a little bit of a dirty word though?
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          Apr 9 2011: To some people yes, but as a filmmaker, I think when you look at what he does, you can't help but admire him, whether you like him or not. When he makes a film, it becomes front page news, it becomes the lead story. We want our films to ignite a conversation and no one has done that better than Michael.
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    Apr 9 2011: When you're approaching a new project, do you shoot as much footage as you can of your subject and then watch it all to see if there's a story in the footage, or do you already have the story in mind with the people you want to speak to already mapped out?
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      Apr 9 2011: We start with an idea and then start filming. We also begin editing early in the project so we can start to structure scenes and see where wholes are, so we're watching and creating the film in real time. Docs are also very organic, they change and shift while you film, pointing you in different directions. We always right down the "perfect" scenario for where a film could end up, but that never happens.
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        Apr 9 2011: You're absolutely right, "perfect" scenarios in film are pretty much impossible. Your films approach a pretty diverse range or topics (capitalism, war, comics), but which subjects do you enjoy watching the most? Who are your favorite narrative film directors?
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          Apr 9 2011: My fave film of all time is Face in the Crowd by Elia Kazan. I love Peckinpaw, Kubrick, Lean, Frank Capra. Today some of my fave dirs are the Cohen Bros, Darren Aronofsky, Todd Phillips and Michel Gondry
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    Apr 9 2011: With the excessive amount of branded stimuli that we all have to deal with on a daily basis, do you have any thoughts about the trajectory of meaningful advertising in the future?
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      Apr 9 2011: Thats a great question. I really think you're going to see even more targeted advertising in the future. The other day I searched for a bed online and every site I went to after that showed me ads for beds. Its was insane. That will bleed into the real world soon.
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    Apr 9 2011: What would you offer as being a good approach for entering into the documentary/film industry?
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      Apr 9 2011: Best part today is all you need is a camera, computer and good idea to make a movie. So I tell filmmakers find the story that you HAVE to tell first because it will be your baby for the next 2-3 years.
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    Apr 9 2011: What do you do to stay inspired? Do you get inspired then create, or do you get more inspired by the act of creation?
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      Apr 9 2011: I get inspired by both. Everyday I see things that inspire and motivate me for different reasons, my son being the biggest. I love the way he sees the world and everyday he makes me see things a little bit differently. I love that.
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        Apr 9 2011: Thank you. Love that you are doing this!
  • Apr 9 2011: Normally I'd ask you what it's like to eat so many hamburgers... But I won't waste my chance and instead I'll ask you this, when you choose what your next film will be about, what inspires you? I mean each one of their topics is SO diverse (fast food chains, business marketing world, terrorism?), maybe I should reformulate to what inspired you to do each one of your films?
    Can't wait for the greatest film ever sold! Oh and loved your TED talk!
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    Apr 9 2011: Thanks Morgan, you rock!
  • Apr 9 2011: Thank you for all your work. You inspire me and give me hope. I hope you enjoy your stay in Ashland and I look forward to seeing you tonight! Lots of love and gratitude...
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    Apr 9 2011: How did you come up with the name warrior poets? I LOVE it?
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    Apr 9 2011: Did your wife win you over to the vegan side? How would you like to be remembered? (sorry, two questions)
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      Apr 9 2011: Sadly no, I still like a good steak now and then (although only about once a month.) And I hope I'm remembered as a good father to my son. Nothing else really matters.
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    Apr 9 2011: Do you think that including global elements(different cultural representations) in films is going to be an important part of success for mass produced films in the future?
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      Apr 9 2011: Well, it certainly doesn't seem to be the case right now. The US dominates the global film market, but how many foreign films make it into US theaters outside of major metropolitan areas? Will be interesting to see as this distribution platforms continue to shrink, digital becomes the norm and TV/elements become one in the same.
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        Apr 9 2011: Do you think that including global elements (even if filmed in America) can hurt a film from getting mass distribution?
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    Apr 9 2011: Morgan!
    I love the high entertainment level in ur docs!
    How did ur script end for Where in the world is Osama? And how satisfied (or better: disappointed) were u after shooting it and finally not finding him? :)
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      Apr 9 2011: We really wanted to go into the tribal areas to continue the journey and provide more closure, but being home for the birth of my son was the least disappointing ending I could hope for. That was infinitely more important.
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        Apr 9 2011: Beautiful personal choice!. Congrats with that lovely boy! Predictable answer though ;-)
        ..Still hungry for "Where in the world is Osama - Part II - the journey continuous..".
  • Apr 9 2011: What filmmaking experiences gave you the most fear and the most hope?
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      Apr 9 2011: When making 30 days, I experienced some very challenging moments, none more frightening than going to prison or working in coal mine. But in the people I met there, I found more hope and humanity than I could ver have imagined.
  • Apr 9 2011: Hi Morgan. What was your primary motivation that made you actually get out there and create 'Super Size Me'? I know it's one thing to want something and another to get up and do it. I'm struggling with the motivation aspect, so I'm curious.
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      Apr 9 2011: I'd been wanting to make a film, and when I saw the story about the 2 girls suing McD (which I thought was crazy) and heard a McD rep talk about how healthy and nutritious their food was (equally as crazy) - I thought this would be an interesting topic to explore. We had the equipment, the manpower and the guinea pig, so I said, "why not." We were shooting less than 6 weeks after I got the idea.
  • Apr 9 2011: Hey Morgan, I thoroughly enjoyed your recent TED talk and I'm really looking forward to the movie. I'm a recent civil (structural) engineering graduate and I found the entire time I was BORED OUT OF MY MIND. I enjoy technical work but it has to be fun. I'm interested in everything and feel like I have no direction, but I'd like a career where I can draw upon all my knowledge. Something interesting, ever changing, inspiring, connecting and fun! Any thoughts on where I could start or what I could do? Hopefully that makes sense and isn't an incoherent rambling mess. A bit of a loaded question especially given that you know pretty much nothing about me. ;)
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      Apr 9 2011: I often find answers to questions like this when I stop thinking about me and turn my effort outwards. With your degree, you could help so many people. Have you thought about joining the Peace Corps for a year ow two? You would be a huge asset to them, and I believe that when you hold out your hand to give, then you are also holding it out to receive.
  • Apr 9 2011: What do you think of adzookie.com offering to pay your mortgage in response to having an ad painted on your house - is that taking branding too far?
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    Apr 9 2011: Hi Morgan. Enjoyed your Ted Talk on Embracing Transparency. You stated that we need to encourage people to take a spoonful of risk at a time and in that we'll find opportunity. I'm curious around what you have done to increase your ability to take risks and what the biggest obstacle has been.
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      Apr 9 2011: Fear of failure is always our biggest obstacle, so large in fact that it often keeps us from even trying. Once I realized that the worst thing anyone would ever say to me is "no," it changed the way I looked at opportunity.
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        Apr 9 2011: Agreed. I work in a large corporation training leaders to drive innovation, which means embracing failure. What are three tangible things you'd recommend to help them overcome this?
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    Apr 9 2011: Your movie is a great advertising opportunity for companies that want to stand out of the almost infinite ad ocean. It probably would also be cheaper than a traditional ad campaign. I'm really surprised that so many turned you down. As you said in your talk, the problem seems to be risk avoidance, a disease many companies (the larger the worse) suffer.

    Great Talk ! Great movie concept ! Congrats !!
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    Apr 9 2011: I've noticed your a big Twitter and it is really great how you connect with fans. What kind of role do you think social media will play in the future of filmmaking? Any thoughts on how social media can be included in your future films?
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      Apr 9 2011: Its going to be inetresting to see if you can turn that connection into more. Can it get people to theaters? To invest in ideas? It already works as a great marketing tool, but I'm excited to see where and what it will become next.
  • Apr 9 2011: Who would I talk to if I wanted to sponsor the educational resources to accompany POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold? I have a lot of ideas, and would be able to reach every college professor who teaches marketing and advertising.
  • Apr 9 2011: What got you started in filmmaking? Why do you chose to do documentaries?
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      Apr 9 2011: I always loved movies. Ever since I was a kid. But it was the movie Scanners that ultimately made me want to make movies. I loved horror and sci fi and originally wanted to make horror films. I wanted to be Rick Baker or Tom Savinni. Then once I went to film school that all changed. I fell in love with other genres, including docs. But I still love a good slasher flick.
  • Apr 9 2011: When talking about brand identity, branding leads to isolation, like when you talk about apple, initially it leads to graphical pleasure and now it implies to outstanding performance. Somehow it's apple's ideal to make it special. Do you think it will be a burden for users to be classified with such tendency?
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      Apr 9 2011: That's a great question, because with that level of success does come a distancing from the end user and regular Joe. That interaction becomes more mechanical. Moving forward, both companies and individuals need to maintain a real sense of identity, and to do that they must maintain healthy, open and honest conversations with those around them.
      • Apr 9 2011: Back in school time, one of my economics final exam questions is whether marketing creats needs(in economical sense) and whether marketing incites wants and over-expence. As audience stance, I always keep fuzzy towards branding. It's really great of you to emphasize transparency and adumbrate the nature of branding. Thank you.
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    Apr 9 2011: Hi Morgan- Very much looking forward to seeing your film, and watched your TED talk the other day.As someone who spent many years in the Set Dec department for major features, mostly in the 90's, we used to think of using the product placed "stuff" as just another way to get more dressing to dress a set with. ;-) We'd choose from a list of providers and then sometimes, contact companies directly when it was something specific we wanted or needed. I then spent many years working for an exhibit/event company that sought sponsors for Santa experiences to travelling exhibits to anything they could, actually. ;-) "Brands" have become so much part of daily life it seems that nothing happens without corporations behind it somehow. So all that being said, what can a person do to specifically align themselves with companies and brands more in line with a project's ethical mission- say "Green" products or socially enterprising companies that give back as part of their business plan, etc.? It would be really great if sponsorship and placement opportunites could go to not just those that have the highest profile and the most money, but those who are really looking to do some good along with make a buck or two. Thoughts? P.S. Where can I find out more about that DC Screening coming up? The link you posted on FB the other day didn't work. Cheers, Beth
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      Apr 9 2011: Will tweet out info about the DC screening later today. And would love to see more ethical companies place products, but they usually have smaller budgets and less influence.
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        Apr 9 2011: Thanks and hrrmmm, I wonder if a product placement company for ONLY green, ethical and socially enterprising companies even exists, or could exist?

        Really, even with not much money, small companies could afford to send a case of say, handcrafted canned goods to be dressed into a set without spending much money. And as the poster says below, indie films on low budgets would love this.
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    Apr 9 2011: Great meeting you the other day, Mr. Spurlock! I wanted to ask about your thoughts on personal "branding." I asked a fellow writer tips on getting into the writing profession, and I was given more market strategy than I've heard anyone else spout. He told me I ought to find a niche market, cater to those needs, and advertise myself as such. Well, when does the person start and the advertising begin? Have we lost our sense of humanity as far as being genuinely interested by another person and not by what they can offer us?
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      Apr 9 2011: I don't think you can find your niche without knowing who you are. That's a big one, and for me it didn't even really happen until I was 30. Once your on a sustained career path, its easier to "Market" and strategize. But first and foremost, you need to be true to you and your passion.
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    Apr 9 2011: No questions Morgan, just a thanks for a brilliant talk, a nice laugh, and the not-so-nice idea that "transparency" is now right up there with "innovation" and "terrorism" as the world's most abused words.

    Enjoy your (work)day!


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