Morgan Neville


Biography

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 ...

Biography

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.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
Director
Best of Enemies (2015)
Director
20 Feet from Stardom (2013)
Director
Troubadours (2011)
Director
The Cool School (2007)
Director
Hitmakers: The Teens Who Stole Pop Music (2004)
Director
Shotgun Freeway: Drives Thru Lost L.A. (1995)
Director

Cinematography (Feature Film)

The Cool School (2007)
Cinematographer

Writer (Feature Film)

Best of Enemies (2015)
Screenplay
The Cool School (2007)
Screenplay
Shotgun Freeway: Drives Thru Lost L.A. (1995)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
Producer
Best of Enemies (2015)
Producer
20 Feet from Stardom (2013)
Producer
Beauty Is Embarrassing (2012)
Producer
Pearl Jam Twenty (2011)
Producer
The Union (2011)
Coproducer
The Cool School (2007)
Producer
Shotgun Freeway: Drives Thru Lost L.A. (1995)
Producer

Director (Special)

Burt Bacharach (2001)
Director
Words and Music By Leiber & Stoller (2001)
Director
Hitmakers: The Teens Who Stole Pop Music (2001)
Director
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll (2000)
Director
Brian Wilson: A Beach Boy's Tale (1999)
Director
John Steinbeck: An American Writer (1999)
Director
Jonathan Winters: Without a Net (1998)
Director
Nat King Cole: Loved in Return (1998)
Director
The Hustons: Hollywood's Maverick Dynasty (1998)
Director

Writer (Special)

Burt Bacharach (2001)
Writer
Hitmakers: The Teens Who Stole Pop Music (2001)
Writer
Words and Music By Leiber & Stoller (2001)
Writer
Carnie Wilson (2001)
Writer
Brian Wilson: A Beach Boy's Tale (1999)
Writer
John Steinbeck: An American Writer (1999)
Writer
Jonathan Winters: Without a Net (1998)
Writer

Producer (Special)

Crossfire Hurricane (2012)
Coproducer
Bubblegum Babylon (2002)
Executive Producer
Carnie Wilson (2001)
Executive Producer
Hitmakers: The Teens Who Stole Pop Music (2001)
Producer
Words and Music By Leiber & Stoller (2001)
Producer
Burt Bacharach (2001)
Producer
Carnie Wilson (2001)
Producer
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll (2000)
Producer
John Steinbeck: An American Writer (1999)
Producer
Brian Wilson: A Beach Boy's Tale (1999)
Producer
Nat King Cole: Loved in Return (1998)
Producer
The Hustons: Hollywood's Maverick Dynasty (1998)
Producer
Jonathan Winters: Without a Net (1998)
Producer
Charlie Chaplin: A Tramp's Life (1998)
Producer
Sidney Poitier: The Defiant One (1997)
Producer

Music (Special)

Rock Hudson: Acting the Part (1999)
Additional Music
Montgomery Clift: The Hidden Star (1998)
Music
Connie Francis: Sweetheart of Song (1998)
Music
Sidney Poitier: The Defiant One (1997)
Music

Special Thanks (Special)

Burt Bacharach (2001)
Writer
Hitmakers: The Teens Who Stole Pop Music (2001)
Writer
Words and Music By Leiber & Stoller (2001)
Writer
Carnie Wilson (2001)
Writer
Brian Wilson: A Beach Boy's Tale (1999)
Writer
John Steinbeck: An American Writer (1999)
Writer
Jonathan Winters: Without a Net (1998)
Writer

Misc. Crew (Special)

Words and Music By Leiber & Stoller (2001)
Writer (Tv)
Hitmakers: The Teens Who Stole Pop Music (2001)
Writer (Tv)
Carnie Wilson (2001)
Writer (Tv)
John Steinbeck: An American Writer (1999)
Writer (Tv)
Jonathan Winters: Without a Net (1998)
Writer (Tv)

Life Events

1995

Release of debut documentary feature, "Shotgun Freeway: Drives Through Lost L.A."

1999

Directed "Brian Wilson: A Beach Boy's Tale"

2008

Directed "Johnny Cash's America"

2012

Directed "Crossfire Hurricane"

2014

Won an Academy Award for the documentary "20 Feet from Stardom"

2015

With Robert Gordon, co-directed the documentary "Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal"

2015

Directed Silk Road Project documentary "The Music of Strangers"

2018

Directed the Fred Rogers biopic documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

Bibliography