Morgan Neville

Morgan Neville

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.