MipTV: Morgan Spurlock on Making Shows For Femme Millennials, How U.S. TV Has Gotten Smarter

Spurlock preps Virtual Reality shows, preps movie ‘Rats’

Morgan Spurlock at MipDoc
Copyright: John Hopewell

CANNES – Delivering a keynote Saturday at Cannes MipDoc April 2-3 mart, media maverick and pop culture ironist Morgan Spurlock sneak-peeked excerpts from his three new femme-centric web series –“What We Teach Girls,” “Sexish” and “Present Tense” – made for Smartish, a premium content web channel at Disney’s Maker Studios.

Taking to the MipDoc stage with aplom and his trademark goatee, media maverick and pop culture ironist also announced he would shortly unveil two Virtual Reality projects, talked of the importance of making shows for girl millennials, and, having dissed fast food and Bush’s War of Terror, raised his hat to the “exciting” “revolution” in U.S. TV, which in drama and he now predicted non-fiction, has gotten a whole lot smarter.

Produced by Spurlock at his Warrior Poet label, “Sexish” profiles women who accepting their bodies and sexuality. This is for the first time ever, sex-positive, body positive show which isn’t a competition. It will be transformational,” Spurlock commented.

Fronted by Jillan Rose Reed, “Present Tense” portrays alternative, digitally-connected cultures. I’ve made a career about immersing myself in a world different from mine, creating a path to empathy. You’ll be hard pressed to find immersive journalist female story tellers.” Reed is one. “And now she’s doing it for a brand new incredibly powerful voice of young women around the world. I love that.”

“What We Teach Girls” is a critique of girls’ received education, gender clichés, and sexual taboos. Warrior Poet will be partnering with a large company which will put its marketing muscle behind “What We Teach Girls.”

Three shows target femme millennials. 16-24s are consuming almost 70% of their content digitally, Spurlock said. Millennial women form “the most educated generation in the history of this planet. 65% are involved in college, 56% are women. They will be 25% of the global workforce by 2020. 2/3s earn as much or more than their partner; they represent $840 billion in annual purchasing power. And they share content continually” Spurlock enthused.

And the clincher: “More millennial women watch Sunday Night Football than ‘The Bachelorette.’”

Three series build a picture of Warrior Poet’s mission and mandate, Spurlock argued. “Empowerment isn’t something you say, it’s something you control.”

Regarding digital in general, per Spurlock, no matter who you are, what you produce, your production strategy has to contain a digital strategy. If it doesn’t, you will go the way of the Dodo.”

Online is a test-bed, and has knock-ons. How do you make money from digital production? Spurlock asked.  You don’t. Or not immediately. “As long as you don’t lose money making digital content, you’re winning.” But digital content can spark TV deals, a film spin-off, or other commissions from companies., he said.

Warrior Poet makes 30% film, 30% TV, 40% digital, rising to 50%-plus in 2016. Digital is part of Spurlock’s DNA, he said. Made Hulu’s first original series, “A Day in the Life,” was sold to traditional TV networks around the world: “Connected” taken to AOL and is now going to TV.

What content is most in demand? “Most people want to chase success in the market place, what I believe in chasing is neglect, Spurlock said. You should chase the holes in the market place and there is a hole which surrounds millennial women in a large way.”

Announcing Brain over Brawn, Spurlock reflected that America has given us “the steam-turbine, air travel, motion pictures. But to be fair, America also gave us “spray-on hair, snuggies for dogs, and it gave us the greatest presidential candidate the world has ever seen,” he riffed, cueing a photo of Donald Trump. America also gave us a never-ending-stream of questionable content….an onslaught of low-brow, low-rent, low-bar programming.

But, Spurlock, said, “The times they are a changing.” “About 15, 16 years ago, TV networks – HBO, Showtime, FX – started saying: ‘Why can’t we create content which is on a par with Hollywood movies?’”

“What started to happen on the heels of that was a revolution: The smartest content you’ve ever seen suddenly hitting television and changing what we thought about TV, which was remarkable. Every other [cable] network started to do the same thing.”

Spurlock now predicts that non-fiction will see a surge is smart TV: Non-fiction producers are in a place where more people are watching non-fiction than ever before. What’s next? More people will start watching smart non-fiction entertainment than ever before: The price point is still the same.”