Moonage Daydream Director on Rejected Original Pitch to David Bowie

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Renowned director, writer, and editor Brett Morgen’s unconventional documentary, “Moonage Daydream,” centered around the legendary David Bowie, defies the conventions of musician-centered films.

Morgen takes viewers on a mesmerizing journey through Bowie’s kaleidoscopic world, blending archival footage, captivating soundscapes, and references to films and artworks that influenced the artist’s illustrious career.

With four Emmy nominations in directing, writing, editing, and sound editing, Morgen sat down with THR to delve into his fascination with Bowie as a subject and his unique artistic process.

Morgen’s Fascination with Creative Mavericks

In his pursuit of documentary subjects, Morgen finds himself irresistibly drawn to individuals who embody boundless creativity and a fearless embrace of life on their own terms.

This common thread links diverse personalities like film producer Robert Evans, primatologist Jane Goodall, rock icon Kurt Cobain, and the enigmatic David Bowie.

Beyond this, Morgen seeks subjects that offer rich cinematic possibilities, allowing him to craft immersive and sublime encounters for his audience.

Crafting Cinematic Experiences

Morgen’s approach to filmmaking is deeply rooted in his love for transformative cinematic experiences. Influenced by spectacles like “Pink Floyd – The Wall,” “Fantasia,” “The Rainbow Man,” “Apocalypse Now,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” he strives to create visual and emotional spectacles that resonate with viewers.

This philosophy was evident in his work on “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” where he initially aimed to construct a biographical portrait solely through Cobain’s art.

This focus on pure artistic expression without the constraints of traditional narrative storytelling informs Morgen’s creative perspective on Bowie’s life and legacy.

A Meeting that Shaped Understanding

Morgen’s connection with Bowie dates back to a pivotal meeting in 2007, where he pitched a radically different nonfiction concept to the music icon. At the time, Morgen had just premiered “Chicago 10,” a film that failed to impress Bowie, who candidly expressed his disapproval.

Undeterred, Morgen, in collaboration with Sony BMG representative Sofia Sondervan, presented a triptych concept to Bowie.

This imaginative proposal involved envisioning Bowie as a perpetual Ziggy Stardust, exploring the consequences of artistic stagnation, and even playfully toying with the idea of a mundane tabloid-style documentary.

Despite Bowie’s appreciation for Morgen’s creativity, health concerns and retirement plans prevented the collaboration from coming to fruition.

A Second Chance at Bowie’s Legacy

Years later, an opportunity arose for Morgen to realize his vision of honoring David Bowie’s legacy through a documentary.

In 2016, Bill Zysblat, who had been present during Morgen’s initial pitch to Bowie, offered him the chance to create a film centered around the iconic artist.

Reflecting on his past encounter with Bowie, Morgen embarked on the creation of “Moonage Daydream,” a film that captures the essence of Bowie’s creativity, philosophies on art and life, and his undeniable impact on the world.

In crafting “Moonage Daydream,” Brett Morgen’s artistic journey came full circle. The documentary stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment to pushing creative boundaries and celebrating the lives of extraordinary individuals like David Bowie.

Through Morgen’s innovative approach, viewers are invited to step into a vivid and otherworldly exploration of Bowie’s multifaceted legacy, forever etched in the annals of music history.

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