While most reality producers are spending the run-up to the Emmys scouting remote islands or feeling out celebrities on their dancing skills, Morgan Spurlock has been flying back and forth to the Mideast, putting the finishing touches on a feature documentary about the hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“There are a few things we need pickups on, but we’re about 95% done,” he says of the film, which was bid on aggressively at February’s Berlin Film Festival. (The Weinstein Co. ended up getting North American rights, while some distribs, including Dubai’s Front Row, made regional deals for the film that were even bigger than the ones they cut several years ago for Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”)
Spurlock — whose FX docu-style program “30 Days” is in the mix for a nonfiction series Emmy this year — hopes to have nearly 800 hours of digital footage narrowed down into a feature-length docu in time for the Toronto Film Festival.
But he’s been coy about what he’s got in the can — in fact, acquisitions execs perusing the fare in Berlin were subject to draconian nondisclosure agreements.
Of course, secrecy combined with bidding heat builds intrigue — might this be even bigger than his 2004 breakthrough, “Super Size Me”?
“We’ve definitely got the Holy Grail,” avers Spurlock’s New York-based director of photography on the project, Daniel Marracino. “Visually, this film is just going to be gorgeous.”
It’s a busy time for Spurlock, who also is readying the third season of “30 Days,” which FX hopes to have ready by the end of the year. Having sent an anti-illegal immigrant activist to live with a family of illegals for a month last season, and having spent several weeks of his own time in jail for an episode, Spurlock is currently working out what ideologically alien worlds to interject his subjects into for the third campaign.
“We’re going back and forth with the network right now on that,” he says. “All you have to do is look at the paper and you can find a variety of things that can dictate the direction of the show.”