Andrew Morgan’s work includes a broad range of work that spans narrative and documentary storytelling for both commercial and film projects. He is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post and speaks regularly on the power of storytelling as a tool in the ongoing fight for human rights around the world.
Most recently, Morgan co-directed The True Cost documentary, a film focused on the ethical considerations and environmental costs of fashion. Filmed in countries all over the world and including all elements of fashion, the brightest runways to the darkest slums, The True Cost features interviews with the world’s leading influencers, including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva.
Here, in this exclusive interview, Andrew Morgan tells us more about his eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.
I had never really thought much about where my clothes came from. Growing up they just seemed to appear in the stores. As I got older I learned that people in developing countries were making them and was told this was a great thing because they needed the work. It wasn’t until I picked up the newspaper and read about a clothing factory collapse outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh that took the lives of 1,138 workers (mostly young women) that I began to start asking a lot of questions. I spent the next several days reading everything I could get my hands on and by the end of that week I was convinced this was a film I had to make.
What did you learn that shocked you the most?
I think just the scope and scale of fashion’s impact all over the world. This is an almost three trillion dollar annual industry that employs an estimated one out of every six people alive. It’s also the number two most polluting industry on earth, second only to oil. Inside of this global machine are systemic human rights violations and staggering environmental impacts being felt in many cases by the world’s poorest people.
How has making the film changed your shopping habits?
Over the last couple of years I have just been buying second hand. It has taught me so much about how many great used options there are if you look for them. I’ve also had the chance to get to know several companies who are dedicated to sourcing and producing in really inspiring ways. When I need to get something new, I’m already excited about buying into the great work they’re doing. It has been a new experience to really stop and consider all the work and resources that go into my clothing, it makes that simple choice become very important when you know the people and places on the other end.
Given the rather emotional content of the subject matter, how did you aim to maintain objectivity?
I have an incredible team of people that I work very closely with. They help me through endless conversations about the content and narrative we’re shaping. This film did become incredibly personal and at times it was completely heartbreaking. It motivates you to honor the stories you are capturing and make a film that serves to further this much-needed conversation.
Tell us a bit about the other films you’ve made.
My last film was a documentary called ‘After the End’. I had lost my dad in a tragic accident and was trying to understand how to put the pieces of my life back together. In the film, I spent time with people from all different walks of life who had also experienced the loss of a loved one. The film became a very personal story about hurt and hope and the things that make us human.
Which other documentaries that you’ve seen have made an impact on you, personally?
When we were prepping for this film I saw the 1971 film ‘Hearts and Minds’ for the first time. It just blew me away and inspired a lot of the choices on this film. I’m also a huge fan of Werner Herzog, there is something so profoundly passionate about his subjects and stories that always pulls me in.
What do you hope to achieve by making the film?
I want us to come face to face with the reality that our choices, even as simple as the clothes we buy make a huge impact on the world around us. But I also want people to feel a sense of hope that moves them towards action. We’ve been taught to think of ourselves as consumers, as if our role is on the sidelines of history just watching and consuming. This film and the people in it have inspired me to begin using my life to be a part of creating a more just and beautiful future