Merrill was nominated for an Academy Award for his IMAX film Amazon and won an academy award for his feature documentary film The Great American Cowboy.
Additionally, Merrill has worked with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on films such as The Testaments, which sold over 500,000 units in the first 30 days of its release on DVD, and Legacy, which ran at special venue theatres world wide.
He has been a pioneer in the world of IMAX cinema, creating a concept known as “destination cinema” through his film, Grand Canyon – The Hidden Secrets. Merrill’s other IMAX films include Olympic Glory, Alamo – The Price of Freedom, Polynesian Odyssey, Yellowstone, Treasure of the Gods, Ozarks Legacy, and Legends and Passion of Life.
Merrill wrote and directed a musical titled More Precious That Gold, at the ARCO Arena with a cast of 5,000 teenagers in celebration of the dedication of the Sacramento Temple. Recently, Merrill's novel, The Evolution of Thomas Hall debuted at Deseret Book in May 2011.
Merrill has served as a member of the Southern Virginia University Board of Trustees, President of the Brigham Young University Alumni Association, and was honored with the Distinguished Service award in 2001 and the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Award from BYU in 2007. That year he also was invited to speak at the April convocation of the College of Fine Arts and Communications.
He is married to Dagny Johnson of Piedmont, California, and they are the parents of eight children. The Merrills live in the Sierra foothills of California.