Academy award-nominated documentarian Morgan Neville spent the majority of his career making films about music's biggest names, including Ray Charles, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones, to name a few. However, it was a little film about backup singers, who are often times singing in the shadows far away from the spotlight, that truly put Neville on the map. His film "20 feet from Stardom" (2013) won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Neville may have already been a successful filmmaker for close to 20 years up until that point, but his 2014 Oscar win quickly made him one of the most talked about, and sought after, documentarians working in Hollywood.
A native of Los Angeles and graduate of the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, Neville worked briefly as a journalist in both New York and San Francisco after college. However, the young journalist grew restless rather quickly, and at the age of 26 Neville decided to become a professional filmmaker. It would take Neville a few years to direct his debut feature documentary, "Shotgun Freeway: Drives Through Lost L.A." (1995), a social history of the City of Angels that made prominent use of newsreels and old photos. By the late '90s, Neville had turned his attention primary to famous musicians, and over the next several years he directed and produced documentaries on Brian Wilson ("Brian Wilson: A Beach Boy's Tale," 1999), James Brown ("The Night James Brown Saved Boston," 2008), and The Rolling Stones in "Crossfire Hurricane" (2012). It was in 2009 that Neville was first approached to make a music documentary on a rather unlikely topic - backup singers. Producer Gil Friesen approached Neville about the possibility of making a film on the unheralded stars of the music business, after being drawn in by the backup singers at a Leonard Cohen concert. Neville loved the idea and over the next five years worked studiously to tell the stories of Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton and several others. "20 Feet from Stardom" debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was universally praised for its endearing portrayal of its subjects. As the film's director and co-producer, Neville took home the Best Documentary Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards.
Director (Feature Film)
Cinematography (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Special)
Misc. Crew (Special)
Release of debut documentary feature, "Shotgun Freeway: Drives Through Lost L.A."
Directed "Brian Wilson: A Beach Boy's Tale"
Directed "Johnny Cash's America"
Directed "Crossfire Hurricane"
Won an Academy Award for the documentary "20 Feet from Stardom"
With Robert Gordon, co-directed the documentary "Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal"
Directed Silk Road Project documentary "The Music of Strangers"
Directed the Fred Rogers biopic documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"