Video/Q&A: 'One Direction: This is Us' director Morgan Spurlock

(Lenny Gilmore / RedEye )
August 27, 2013|Matt Pais, @mattpais | RedEye movie critic

For his breakout documentary “Super Size Me,” Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days. For his concert doc “One Direction: This Is Us,” the filmmaker listened to nothing but the boy band while following and filming Harry, Zayn, Niall, Liam and Louis for six months. How do those two experiences compare?

“It’s addictive,” says Spurlock with a laugh. “Once it gets in your brain it doesn’t go away. I can’t tell you how many nights I woke up singing One Direction songs.”

To most people who aren’t teenage girls, that may sound brutal. The look at the band’s behind-the-scenes goofiness and bond in “This Is Us,” however, proves surprisingly amusing. It’s because One Direction comes off as the down-to-Earth, likable antithesis to, say, the focus of “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.”

At the Park Hyatt, Spurlock, 42, talked about the difference between One Direction and Bieber, the women who flood hotels in search of 1D and how a One Direction documentary about Morgan Spurlock would turn out.

Everything you hear lately with all the Bieber nonsense going on is, “When anyone is 19, they do stupid stuff and make all these mistakes,” but based on your movie, these guys aren’t going through that. Why is that?
The difference between them and Justin Bieber is—there’s a few things. One is I think they’ve been incredibly smart about surrounding themselves with people who will say, “That’s not a good idea.” They aren’t surrounded by “yes” men. I think they’re surrounded by people who question the things they want to do. The band actually gets to make decisions of what happens with the band. They vote democratically, the five of them. “Are we going to add more dates to the tour? Are we going to have matinees? Are we going to have this sponsor? Are we going to do x, y or z?”

How easily do those decisions get made?
Well, it’s a democracy. Three out of five decide. Lucky there’s five guys in the band. So once three people vote one way, the decision’s done. And I think the other reason why they’ve had no big [scandalous] moments is because each guy has four other guys that is constantly there to ground them and bring them back and support them.

All of their songs, as far as I know, are about love. We don’t really get much sense of their relationships with young girls from the film, but I’m wondering how much you think they know about love or understand what they’re singing?
I think when you’re 19 to 21, or when I was a teenager, you have incredibly idealistic ideas of love. You think things should be perfect or should be in a certain way. Granted they probably have a much more realistic view than other 19-, 21-year-olds because they’re much more worldly now and have really gotten to go out and experience a lot more than other folks. … One of my favorite lines in the whole movie is [by] the girl when we were in Spain, which I think sums up the film and sums up their success so well: “They say what we want to hear but no other boys will say to us.” That’s why they’re successful. Because they say what no other boys will say.

But they’re not writing songs, right?
Well, they’re writing songs now with songwriters.

But the previous hits and stuff.
For the first album, no. The second album they wrote I think four or five with songwriters. Now on the next album they’re co-writing almost everything with folks.

A question anyone would be thinking when it comes to a popular touring band of young men, especially with millions of women around the world wanting to be close to them, is about their relationships with young women, groupies, that kind of thing. We don’t see that in the film, but I think it’s fair to ask what you observed while you were making the movie because it really speaks to what their lives are like and how they handle all this attention.
Yeah. I think they’re really good. There’s women that are chasing them constantly. … There are girls all the time back at the hotels. You’ll go to a hotel and there will be girls that will ride the elevators all night long just hoping for a chance to meet them. That are coming up in the stairwells and banging on the doors and security opens the door and three or four of them will dart through like antelopes. They’re running through the hallways and security’s trying to get them out of the hallways where the guys are. They’re very aware of who they are and where they are, and they’ve been very smart to avoid a lot of the pitfalls that other people have [succumbed to].

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