Morrison fans lined up around the hall to get a glimpse of the documentary, available on DVD and Blu-ray October 26, 2011. Director Meany and DP/Producer Rennert told the audience that they were hoping to do a small-scale theatrical tour, asking fans to let them know of theaters interested in screening the project.
With FJ De Santo moderating, the panel kicked off with a teaser trailer for the film. On the big screen, black and white shots of Morrison in his trademark sunglasses faded in and out of focus as comic book luminaries such as Geoff Johns and Matt Fraction praised Morrison’s work.
One of the most remarkable parts of the film, evident from the clips shown, was the sheer number of people Meany and Rennert interviewed.
“It got a little creepy at some points when we were like, [to Morrison] ‘we talked to everyone you know,” said Rennert. In total, the documentarians interviewed about 45 people for the film. They even managed to capture the elusive Frank Quitely on camera. “He’s just a man like the rest of us!” declared Rennert.
The panel was comprised of clips from the upcoming documentary and discussions of the filmmakers’ experience filming Morrison. The crowd applauded when Meany and Rennert announced they had wrapped principal photography that day, after filming four hours of Morrison at Comic-Con.
The original idea to make a documentary rose while Meany was working on a book about “The Invisibles” for Sequart, publishers of “Grant Morrison: the Early Years.”
“I was going to do an interview for the book, and I was like ‘Why don’t we just film it…hold on, why don’t we make a whole documentary about it?'” said Meany. They sent Morrison three possible outlines for the project: one regular interview, one focused on “The Invisibles” and one that would cover his entire life.
“He was like, ‘Let’s do the one about my entire life.’ And we said, ‘That’s fine with me,'” said Meany as the audience laughed.
Meany and Rennert’s respect for the eccentric Morrison came across strongly. “Grant’s a complicated guy,” said Rennert. “As we chronicled his life, we found there’s certain periods where he was a completely different person.”
“The work he’s doing reflects the person he is at a certain time,” said Meany.
Determined to show all sides of the man, the clips jumped between interviews with artists and writers to images of Morrison’s comics, to extensive interviews with Morrison himself.
The footage from the documentary was clearly the high point of the evening for the audience. In the clips, Morrison spoke about everything from his personal sketchbooks to his unconventional childhood. Morrison was frank about the dark period he went through while working on Superman, and how the death of his father at the time influenced Superman’s relationship with his father and the Kents.
Morrison was equally frank about communing with the scorpion gods.
“I think it’s interesting how casual he is…he was like, ‘I was doing this and then I was in the tub with the scorpion god,’ and you’re just sort of like, ‘Oh, ok,'” said Meany. “The weird experiences are the same as the everyday experiences, and they all go into the work.”
The crowd also enjoyed watching interviews with the artists who collaborated with Morrison. The room burst into laughter as artist after artist admitted they found working with Morrison terrifying. Commonly heard were cries of, “How am I going to do this?”
Moderator FJ De Santo soon brought up the panel’s special guest: long-time Morrison collaborator and artist Frazer Irving. When asked by De Santo how Irving “got” what was in Morrison’s mind, Irving laughed.
“It doesn’t sound like madness to me…I just accept it,” said Irving to wild applause. The artist was incredibly positive about his experience working with Morrison, saying that the writer would modify script pages to reflect what Irving drew. “He trusts that we can take his ideas with the smallest inspiration and actually put our own passion into it,” said Irving.
During the question and answer period, Meany and Rennert said they made the film with a wide audience in mind. Fans also showed interest in Meany and Rennert’s other projects, asking about their web series “The Third Age.”
The panel finally ended with one last teaser trailer, this time from Respect Film’s next documentary. The lights dimmed and Warren Ellis appeared on screen. Bearded and drinking alcohol in the dark, the audience went nuts the moment they saw him. The title of the film, “Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts,” was met with cheers and applause.
To close, however, the directors brought things back to the panel’s titular focus. “We’ve been given the keys to [Morrison’s] story, so we’re pretty excited about that,” said Meany. The audience couldn’t agree more.
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