David Bowie Documentary Filmmaker Says His Heart Flatlined 'For A Couple Of Minutes' While Working On Moonage Daydream

Making a movie tends to require an entire team of people. You've got your director, producer, writer, editor, on-screen talent, and more. Now imagine taking on the task of making a documentary entirely on your own. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck filmmaker Brett Morgen took on that challenge for the David Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream, but he flatlined during the making of it.

Moonage Daydream explores the creative and musical journey of musical legend, David Bowie. In an interview at Deadline’s Cannes Studio, Brett Morgen shares how he not only had a heart attack while making his music documentary but actually flatlined for a couple of minutes and went comatose.

I was my own editor on this film, I was my own producer on this film, I felt very alone and responsible. During the course of making the film I had a heart attack and flatlined for a couple of minutes, and was in a coma for a week.

Stress has a way of getting to you when you feel overwhelmed. Especially when you are trying to create a remarkable tribute to one of the best musicians we’ve had the privilege to see and hear. This is the first film about David Bowie that was authorized by his estate with a ton of footage given to Morgen. With the film's trailer revealing a variety of David Bowie footage from his concerts, music videos, and behind-the-scenes footage, we’re sure to get a tribute that fans will love compared to his last tribute that was roasted. 

Brett Morgen continued to speak to Deadline about his near-death experience and why it happened.

Most people don’t have heart attacks at 47 years old. My heart attack happened because my life was out of control and there was no balance to it and there was no discipline. I have three children and when I came out of that experience, I thought, ‘What’s been the message of my life?’ And ‘work really hard’—that’s kind of been it. That’s the message I’d left behind for my children, and where does that get you? It gets you to be patient zero at Cedars-Sinai at 47 years old.

Luckily, Brett Morgen was back in good health in enough time to finish making his movie. He continued to talk to Deadline about how his brush with death taught him to appreciate every day and moment. He felt like the Ziggy Stardust musician served as a guide to him about how to survive and live the most fulfilling life you can. That even though this documentarian did not get to know David Bowie personally before his death in 2016, he felt like the spirit of Bowie guided him towards the message of his documentary which is about life and celebrating each moment. For all we know, maybe David Bowie did spiritually visit him during those moments of unconsciousness.

A couple of years ago, David Bowie had his own musical biopic called Stardust about the music icon discovering his Ziggy Stardust persona during a road trip in 1971. Unfortunately, this film was not a favorite of the critics. While they praised its star Johnny Flynn, critics like The Guardian felt like the film didn’t do its subject justice and NME wasn’t happy with the film’s lack of David Bowie music. Well, we can expect Brett Morgen to service fans not only with David Bowie’s chart-topping hits, but an exploration into the brilliant mystique David Bowie shadowed upon us when he was alive.

Let’s all feel the spirit of David Bowie in the upcoming film Moonage Daydream coming to theaters worldwide this September.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.