Thousands of comic aficionados are flooding San Diego today for Comic-Con 2010, and documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is on the scene, capturing it all for his upcoming movie about the event he's dubbed "nerd nirvana." "You can cut the excitement in San Diego with a light saber!" he tells Rolling Stone from the 40th annual convention.
Spurlock says Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope is "the biggest film I've ever done." And his collaborators are certainly super-hero size: Stan Lee and Joss Whedon. The project was born at last year's Comic-Con, Spurlock's first, which he attended to shoot parts of his Emmy-nominated The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special — In 3-D! On Ice!. "I went up to Stan Lee and I was gushing, 'Oh my God, Mr. Lee, thank you so much, you don't understand what an impact your work has had on my life,' telling how he made it cool to explore that creative side," Spurlock says. "He said, 'Mr. Morgan, you know what we should do is make a documentary.' "
After a meeting with Joss Whedon — who in addition to directing movies and television has written such comic series as Astonishing X-Men, Runaways and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight — the wheels were in motion. "It was just so amazing. I had never met Stan or Joss before, but there they were, coming aboard as producers," Spurlock says. "Everything just fell into place."
The shoots started with nine "super fans" cast from around the world (including comic book creators, writers, artists, and publishers) who are documenting their journey to the convention, from creating costumes in their home countries to arriving at the airport. When doors open today, Spurlock plans to find more subjects, hoping the cameras and Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope production laminates will lead more fans to them.
"Every fan has a goal," Spurlock says. "No matter how life-changing it might be. 'I can't wait to meet Bruce Campbell.' 'I'm going to be camping out because the cast of this movie is going to be there.' So we're going to find a cross-section, and every day we'll be on the lookout to talk to them about their Comic-Con stories."
Spurlock also plans to check in with a cross-section of presenters and creators from this year's Comic-Con, which will feature The Green Hornet, The Green Lantern, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, as well as Harry Potter, True Blood and V.
"You should care about what they care about at Comic-Con," Spurlock says. "People come here to see what's new. This is a place that affects everything you see on TV, in movie theaters. This is an industry that dictates what cool is, that is setting the stage for what we consume. This is what drives popular culture today. And the people who support it, they are the most loyal and dedicated fans you can ever have."
Leftover footage might make the DVD or an accompanying coffee-table book that'll be available in time for next year's Comic-Con. The film itself will be done by December and out next spring. "I just don't know who’s going to do the music yet," Spurlock says. "John Williams would be perfect — who better to score a film about Comic-Con? But he won’t return my calls."