Morgan Spurlock knows a thing or two about failure. Almost 10 years ago, he had been evicted from his apartment and was sleeping in a hammock in his office as he tried to dig himself out of $250,000 in debt. He “decided to roll the dice” and make one more film. That film became his Oscar-nominated documentary Supersize Me.
Spurlock uses his experiences to inform his role as mentor to the participants of Failure Club, a new series premiering on Yahoo! Screen this Friday. EW chatted with Spurlock about the show, which follows seven people who want to change their lives over the course of a year.
Spurlock, who hosts and produces Failure Club, first stumbled upon the idea when he met venture capitalist Philip Kiracofe seven years ago. Kiracofe started Failure Clubs in 2004 as a support group for people who wanted to get their lives out of a rut. Spurlock recognized that “all of us have wanted to do things, and life takes over at a certain point.” He was immediately inspired by the notion that anyone can take back his or her life and wanted to make a documentary-style series in the vein of his successful FX show 30 Days.
Ironically, when he and Kiracofe started shopping the concept around, it became clear that the year-long production time was too long for networks. In the end, it took seven years before the pair found a home at Yahoo! Screen. He laughed, “This show is my failure club!” Spurlock credits his parents for his tenacity. “Here were two people who never told me I couldn’t do anything. They told me I could never quit something once I started it.” Now he hopes to return the favor with this series.
Though Failure Club is only a few weeks into production, Spurlock is already passionate about the possibilities. The projects run a wide gamut: One participant, a 55-year-old woman, wants to become an equestrian. Another Club member wants to learn how to build a motorcycle from scratch and take it on a road trip to honor his father’s memory. Another woman hopes to secure her own legacy by writing a hit Christmas song. There’s also a would-be stand-up comic and a few budding businesspeople. “There’s a story for everyone, and that’s the exciting part for me,” says Spurlock. “This will resonate with people all across the country and around the world because there is that thing in all of us where we would like to be doing something.”
Club members, who are not paid for their participation, meet every week for a progress check-in. Spurlock and Kiracofe will act as guides in the process, talking out realistic steps each participant can take to keep his or her goal moving forward, though Spurlock notes, “We don’t tell people what to do.” Instead, says Spurlock, “The biggest thing is giving people encouragement, letting them know that this is a safe place for them to come and talk about being afraid and their concerns. … To suddenly have this group of people you can confide in… that’s really important.”
Failure Club is sure to have some serious moments, but it wouldn’t be a Spurlock production without some humor. “Getting these people to want to embrace the idea that failing is okay is going to be a fun process,” he says. “It is frightening, but at the same time there’s humor in those fearful moments.”
And what happens when the year’s up? (After all, it did take Spurlock seven years to get this project off the ground.) “People will have either accomplished it, or they haven’t,” admits Spurlock. “Ultimately the people probably won’t quit going after what they want. That’s what the Failure Club is. It’s a place to launch you into this dream. Maybe you’ll be able to get it done in a year, maybe you won’t, but no matter what happens, you won’t be the same person when it’s over. … This is about you finally owning up to the fact that you can be a better version of how you envision yourself.”
And that goes, he says, for viewers as well. “The greatest goal of the show is that Failure Clubs start popping up all over the world. Hopefully this show can help a lot of people have the courage to face what they fear the most.”
New episodes of Failure Club debut on Yahoo! Screen every Friday at 1 p.m. ET. You can see a sneak peek of the series here.