Morgan Spurlock has become one of the most popular and well-known documentary makers of today. Known for approaching serious subjects in a more light-hearted and humorous manner, his film The Greatest Film Ever Sold is in keeping with this tradition. In this film Spurlock focuses on marketing and advertising within the entertainment industry.
Oftentimes documentaries tend to age rather quickly, yet in many respects this movie is still quite relevant. Spurlock starts his film by declaring that less people are paying attention to commercials than ever. This film, now 5 years old, is still quite applicable considering the cable cutting that is happening across the country today. Now more than ever companies are being forced to find more creative ways to get their brand out there. This is the basis from where Spurlock gets his idea for the film; to make a film about advertising, while using these ads to help finance the film. The goal was to raise $1.5 million in order to become “The Iron Man of Documentaries”.
What really makes this film interesting is seeing the many steps Spurlock goes through to finance and market his film. The viewer sees the numerous meetings Spurlock takes as he tries to figure out his own brand personality and then how to ultimately sell that brand. After accruing his long list of sponsors, Spurlock shows how difficult it can be to manage the requirements that these companies have for their products. Unsurprisingly the more money involved, the more difficult this juggling act becomes.
There are a few other stimulating topics for discussion that the film tries to flesh out. Spurlock broaches the idea of what it means to sell out. He discusses about whether marketing is manipulative and if it is ethical. Rather than telling the viewer what he thinks, Spurlock interviews many people in the industry. He allows these ‘experts’ to give their opinions about these tricky topics.
There are indeed many reasons to watch this film. Spurlock does have a legitimately clever idea and is able to put it into action. The viewer gets really interesting insights about the marketing world and specifically product placement. Unfortunately the film focuses primarily on entertaining rather than informing. This is a very cursory look at marketing in film, and perhaps a more in-depth follow up could really be beneficial. Overall despite being rather light on substance, Spurlock has made another interesting and entertaining film.