Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) announced last week that he would be directing a 3-D concert film about the hit British boy band One Direction for theatrical release next September, with “American Idol” and “The X Factor” mastermind Simon Cowell producing. “This is an incredible opportunity and an amazing moment in time for the band,” Spurlock says in a statement. “To capture this journey and share it with audiences around the world will be an epic undertaking that I am proud to be a part of.”
What’s perhaps most surprising about the news, though, is how often the project has been referred to as a documentary in the press. While the trend has been to incorporate more and more backstage and off-stage footage into concert films — as with last year’s Justin Bieber film “Never Say Never” and Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” earlier this year — do they really qualify as documentaries? Or does the label have to do more with Spurlock’s involvement. We decided to check in with some experts.
“We have seen over time that the perceived definition of ‘documentary film’ has radically changed. The one constant is that these films have continued to follow factual information about the subject they are documenting and that is important,” Justin Krumb, director of the doc “Minds in the Water,” tells Metro. “So in the case of Spurlock’s new project, I believe this a true documentary, in that sense of the word, but one that falls into a new sub-category that relates to the phenomenon of reality TV/celebrity power. What’s missing that I’d love to see is how these films bring about social change. How they alter our feeling to go out and change the world in a positive way or call attention to an issue that needs to be addressed.”
Some of Spurlock’s colleagues are willing to wait and see how he fares with his new singing and dancing subjects before passing judgment. “I know a bit about the project and from what I understand I’m not sure it’s a concert film at all,” says Lucy Walker, an Oscar nominee herself for “Waste Land” and “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.” “Why not let him explore all aspects of filmmaking and give him the benefit of the doubt until we’ve seen it?”