The renowned filmmaker shares the origin stories of his documentaries and a recipe for innovative content that makes a difference

In one of the most anticipated keynotes of PSFK 2017, Morgan Spurlock broke down the key elements of storytelling to make an impact, which he has put into practice in his filmmaking career and production company Warrior Poets. He divulged behind-the-scenes anecdotes from his groundbreaking documentaries Super Size Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and recalled how the two movies extended beyond themselves, inspiring audiences to consider the mechanisms behind practices that we take for granted as the norm.

Spurlock’s up-close-and-personal critique of McDonald’s quickly became a touchstone for the public’s troubling subjection to corporate America. So when it came time to get sponsors on board for his next project, he was deemed “brand cancer” and repeatedly rejected. Nonetheless, he was determined to make The Greatest Movie Ever Sold the “Iron Man of product placement.” Describing the road to produce what turned out to be the most sponsored movie ever, Spurlock emphasized persistence of vision: “No one wants to be first to say yes. Everybody wants to be first to be second.”

Here are some key takeaways:

Now is the best time to be a storyteller, so now is the time to take risks

Spurlock posed a simple opening question: How can we create original stories that make a difference? There are more outlets for storytelling now than ever—online content platforms, social media—which means there are more ways than ever to reach your audience. The ease of putting stories out there allows, and requires, us to take risks in order to make an impact.

To realize innovative ideas, you have to be ready and willing to accept criticism

From being one of three ballet-dancing brothers in West Virginia (yes, you read that right) to taking on a fast food giant in a widely publicized film, Spurlock has endured his share of criticism. His secret to success? Don’t shy away from ideas that other people think are crazy.

In one of the most anticipated keynotes of PSFK 2017, Morgan Spurlock broke down the key elements of storytelling to make an impact, which he has put into practice in his filmmaking career and production company Warrior Poets. He divulged behind-the-scenes anecdotes from his groundbreaking documentaries Super Size Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and recalled how the two movies extended beyond themselves, inspiring audiences to consider the mechanisms behind practices that we take for granted as the norm.