A thought-provoking and often hilarious look into the world of advertising within the media.
On Thursday, April 14, 2011 Cinefest 2011 came to an end. For those who attended knew that this small festival ended with a bang. The lucky people at Cinefest were able to snag Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold to close out the festival. The turnout for the film was quite impressive and marked the largest at the festival for the films that I personally attended. It just goes to show you that documentary film-making isn’t dead, but just speaks to a specialized audience like those who attend film festivals. At about 7:30pm, the film began and I was excited to see just what this flick was all about.
Morgan Spurlock is known for making documentaries that are edgy and take on important topics that are sure to spark a large amount of interest. His first documentary, Super Size Me, made him a house hold name and now his latest film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, will just reinforce his own branding to those who follow film. In this film, Morgan Spurlock decides that he wants to make the Iron Man of documentaries and he isn’t talking about special effects, but rather product placement. Morgan ventures out to talk to a large variety of companies who want to be apart of his documentary. He tries to talk to everyone from soft drink producers such as POM to deodorant companies like Ban. This film ultimately becomes an interesting look into the world of advertisement in entertainment and makes us the viewer aware of all that is going on behind the scenes. The end result is an often hilarious yet insightful look into this manipulative world.
Watching a documentary that showcases just how manipulative advertisers are is something that is right up my alley. While I always wanted to work in film all my life, I went to school for Marketing, Advertising, Film, and Communications. I was very aware of most of the subjects that Spurlock talked about in this film. The idea of product integration, truth in advertising, and ultimately how much control these companies have over the final version of say a television show or movie didn’t shock me, but was rather refreshing to see that someone had the guts to expose this. The film takes you on the complete journey through the different worlds of advertising. The film takes us into these companies, their reactions, them rejecting Spurlock, their agendas, and that is just a few of things that are highlighted in the film.
The funniest thing about this movie is that it works for advertisers and those who didn’t want to take the risk and didn’t believe enough in their products are missing out on something unique. In my eyes, this documentary served as one huge marketing campaign for the brands that signed up to be apart of the film. After I watched this film, I wanted to go to Sheetz and get my limited edition Cups from the film and I wanted a POM. Its pretty funny because while Spurlock may not have wanted to sell products for these advertisers and just wanted to sell his film, it does both.
Unlike the majority of advertisements that I see on a daily basis, I can actually remember most of them from the film without even researching it. I know that Ban was the first person to take on Morgan’s offer and I know that Sheetz, POM, Mini, Hyatt, and several others took part in funding the film. Its amazing how much I remember in terms of advertising from this film. This goes to ultimately show just how manipulative advertising is and how we as audience members don’t think how these brands control our thinking.
While creating this film, Spurlock takes the risk of selling out to Corporate America. This idea is talked about in the film and actually makes me sick to see how much control the advertisers want for their money. Its not good enough that the brand is featured, but they want final script approval and have requirements like that the film has to be shown on over 2,500 screens. The odd thing, however, is that Spurlock actually gets to maintain his own creative style with the film and that was something he was sure he would achieve halfway through making the film. The battle seemed long and hard for Spurlock, but he was able to maintain full control of the film and even pointed out during the Q&A that as a filmmaker you can’t let them bully you, but rather fight for your creative right.
During the lively Q&A at Cinefest, Spurlock talked for a good 30 minutes about various aspects of the film. He was asked a variety of questions from his favorite brands and a time were he was manipulated by an advertisement. Spurlock came off as both well spoken and intelligent. He isn’t afraid to be truthful, which is nice to see, but than again that is what his career has been built on so far. He is an edgy guy who likes risks and isn’t afraid to get in trouble. That characteristic about Spurlock along with people like Michael Moore is why I value them as film makers. They don’t care who they upset and fight to have their voices heard.
At the Cinefest closing party, I had the great pleasure to speak with Morgan Spurlock one on one. We talked about documentaries in general and a bit about how the process worked. During our talk, I mentioned the newest promotion for the film in which Spurlock bought the rights to the town of Altoona, PA and renamed it the title of the film. We had a great conversation and was an absolute pleasure to talk to. Spurlock also seemed like one of those filmmakers that wanted to help out other fellow or future filmmakers. I talked to him for a bit about my idea for an documentary that I want to get off the ground sometime within the next year and he gave me some pointers and people to connect with. Its not everyday that you meet a filmmakers who seems interested in your project, but Spurlock seemed to be intrigued by my idea and hopefully one day I will get the pleasure of working with him.
In closing, Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was a bold, insightful, and interesting look at advertising. The film will really open the eyes of many to see how they are being controlled by the advertising and will begin to question the argument if there is really truth in advertising. The film explores many different avenues of advertisements and even points out that schools now have to depend on it to get funding. That point as Spurlock pointed out is just sickening and really makes you question our society nowadays. I definitely recommend everyone to check this film out as it will change the way you watch television, movies, and see celebrities.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a 8 out of 10.