Dubbed the “mad scientist” of documentary film by The New York Times, Brett Morgen has been directing, writing, and producing groundbreaking documentary films for the past 15 years. His credits include the Academy Award-nominated On The Ropes (1999), the universally acclaimed The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002), and the HBO presentation Crossfire Hurricane (2012), which celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones.Morgen is also a prolific commercial director with over 150 spots for brands as diverse as GE, Google, Nike, Dominos, AT&T, ESPN, HSBC and Marlboro. His signature cinematic style shines in his recent Exxon Mobile “Enabling” broadcast campaign for BBDO, in which Morgen takes us on an epic journey to reveal the massive scale of effort it takes to bring energy into our homes.
Morgen majored in American Mythology at Hampshire College and attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he received an MFA in film in 1999. On The Ropes was Morgen’s thesis film, which premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and received the Special Jury Award. The film went on to earn the aforementioned Academy Award nomination, along with a DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary, the International Documentary Association Award for Best Film and an Independent Spirit nomination.
His next film, The Kid Stays in the Picture, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002. Morgen wrote, produced, and directed the adaptation of Robert Evans’ infamous memoirs. It was named one of the best films of 2002 by Entertainment Weekly and over 50 other publications. The Kid Stays in the Picture was selected as Best Documentary of 2002 by the Boston Film Critics, Seattle Film Critics and Washington DC film critics, and won the Golden Satellite Award for Best Documentary.
In 2007, Morgen released Chicago 10, which was selected to be the opening film at Sundance. Morgen wrote, directed, and produced the film that was released by Roadside Attractions and distributed by Paramount Home Video. Chicago 10 received several awards and honors including Emmy, WGA and ACE nominations. It is considered to be one of the first animated documentaries of its kind.
Morgen has created and executive produced several TV series and events. In 2008, he won his first Peabody Award for the Sundance Channel series “Nimrod Nation,” also hailed as one of the best series of 2008 by The Los Angeles Times and the Television Critics Association. In 2010, Morgen directed and produced June 17, 1994 as part of ESPN’s 30 For 30 series. Morgen and the film received two Emmy nominations as well as a series Peabody Award.
Brett Morgen’s highly anticipated next feature project, Montage of Heck, the first authorized documentary of Kurt Cobain, will make its official premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in advance of its HBO release. Morgen’s ambitious portrait of Cobain’s life and legacy is eight years in the making, and the first documentary to be made with the cooperation of Kurt Cobain’s family, with Morgen given unrestricted access to the late musician’s personal archives