January 2nd, 2012
12:57 PM ET
If you resolve to do anything this year, perhaps it should be what you're most afraid to try.
That's what documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is encouraging seven New Yorkers to do with his Web docu-series "Failure Club," based on the premise that the less afraid of failure you are, the more you can achieve.
"We all have that one thing that, for some reason, we’ve kind of put off. Whether we were afraid, or we just felt like we didn’t have time or the support from friends or family, " Spurlock says.
But, "the minute you take that first step towards the thing you’ve always wanted to do, it’s never as hard as you’d imagined. The first step, it’s so hard to take, but once you take it, you’re like, what took me so long?'" he continues. "Once you eliminate that fear of failure, once you take that out of your life, the opportunities that present themselves are endless."
It's what the "Super Size Me" (2004) and "Freakonomics" (2010) writer/director relays to the "Failure Club" cast, who hold goals such as starting a business, building a motorcycle and taking it on a cross-country tour, or doing stand-up comedy.
Funnily enough, the series, which airs on Yahoo! Screen, was almost a failure in itself.
Spurlock heard about the failure club concept from creator Philip Kiracofe, and tried to pitch it as a TV show. But "no TV network would touch it," he says.
"Nobody wanted to shoot for a year. They’re like, 'This is a great idea, could you shoot it in 13 weeks?' [But] you can’t have everybody’s goal be a goal that can be done in three months, because it kind of defeats the whole purpose," Spurlock explains. "We just kept waiting and kept waiting, and I said, at some point, we’re going to find somebody we can make this show with."
And so the concept gestated for six years, until Yahoo! Screen came along. "We pitched them 'Failure Club' and they loved it. It was very meant to be."
Having faced such bouts of failure in his own life, the filmmaker can draw on those experiences as he encourages "Failure Club" participants to anticipate not succeeding - and to learn how to move on.
"Pre-‘Super Size Me,’ I was evicted from my apartment. I was sleeping in a hammock in my office. [And] I was using credit to keep my company going. I was using credit cards to pay credit card [bills] – when you start doing that, it’s bad news," Spurlock recalls.
Finally, after accumulating $250,000 in credit card debt, MTV greenlit one of his company's projects. After paying $50,000 toward his debt and putting away another $50,000, Spurlock had a decision to make.
"I said, well, I could either pay this $50,000 to that bottomless pit of debt, or we could make a movie," he says. "And so we decided to make a film. We rolled the dice again and we made ‘Super Size Me,’ and it changed everything."
For those who say that the money just isn't there to accomplish their dream, Spurlock argues that's "an obstacle we build around ourselves when we're afraid." Bills have to be paid, and school lunches have to be purchased, but the filmmaker says that there's always a way to achieve whatever it is you're most passionate about.
"You have to have really thick skin. That’s what I tell the people in the group. People are going to tell you no. People aren’t going to like you. And you have to turn every single one of those 'no's' and every rejection into a positive somehow," he explains. "What you have to realize is that people fail all the time. Thomas Edison failed before he got one light bulb to work. How many times are you going to let yourself fail, and still keep going?"
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