How Comedy, Dance and Animation Help You Understand The Economy

Admit it. How much of your day do you spend watching videos online? (Yes, your Netflix binge of House of Cards counts.) You can stay online, it’s just time to step away from Frank Underwood’s D.C. and into the real world to follow something’s that bigger than any spoiler for season three.

Something that’s $77.6 trillion big, or wooly mammoth big as director Morgan Spurlock posits in a short film for the new series WE THE ECONOMY 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford to Miss.

Ever wonder how the global economy got started? Meet Ugg, Glugg and Tugg, three enterprising cavemen who accidentally invented trade, marketing and the base elements of the modern market economy. They are at the center of Spurlock’s new film that you can watch online today for free at

Comedian Judah Friedlander stars in a new short film from Morgan Spurlock for WE THE ECONOMY.

WE THE ECONOMY is a new short film series from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions and Spurlock’s Cinelan that brings together film and economics in ways never before seen. All of the films can all be viewed for free on, via the iPhone or Android app or from one of the project’s more than 50 distribution partners. It’s what results when 10 experts and 20 filmmakers collaborate on addressing important questions about the U.S. economy that we should all know how to answer.

Get TPM in your inbox, twice weekly.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

“What I really love about [my] film, and the entire WE THE ECONOMY series, is how differently it deals with a topic that would normally be very dry and straightforward,” said Spurlock. “My hope is that with WE THE ECONOMY, we are able to engage a wide range of people in these important topics.”

The series includes new short films from Catherine Hardwicke (‘Twilight’), Adam McKay (‘Anchorman’), Barbara Kopple (‘Harlan County: USA’), Jessica Yu (‘Last Night At the Oasis’), Marshall Curry (‘Street Fight’), Bob Balaban (‘Gosford Park’), Albert Hughes (‘Menace II Society’), Chris Henchy (‘Funny or Die’), Heidi Ewing and Rachel Loki (‘Jesus Camp’), Miao Wang (Beijing Taxi), Jehane Noujaim (‘The Square’), Shola Lynch (Chisholm ’72), Steve James (‘Hoop Dreams’) and Mary Harron (‘American Psycho’).

Ep. 3: GDP SMACKDOWN | Chris Henchy from We The Economy on Vimeo.

The 20 short films are segmented into five chapters that you can watch on your lunch break, your commute or all at once (just like your favorite TV show). While you don’t have to view them in any particular order, today we are going to start at the beginning with a very basic question: “What is the Economy?”

To Spurlock, the question reflected a primitive culture; to Jon M. Chu, it was all about movement. An ebb and flow, per se. As the director of dance films from the popular Step Up series, he worked with economic advisors Greg Ip and Dean Baker to direct a whimsical tale of love, dance and the economic concept of supply and demand.

“One of the things that stood out in our conversations was how the economy was always in constant motion whether an ebb, a flow, a dip or a rise. Everything is connected. It reminded me of a duet between our wants and our needs,” said Chu. “So I thought that since I have experience in making dance movies, it seemed appropriate to show a little bit about the fundamental economic concept of supply and demand through movement.”

Just your average group of people curious to know more about the economy.

For Chris Henchy, a veteran of HBO comedies as well as a co-founder of, he approached the question “How do we measure the economy?” with a little more staccato movement in his directing for WE THE ECONOMY. Forget the MTV classic Celebrity Deathmatch, it’s time for “GDP Smackdown.” One ring, two economists, five minutes to settle their differences in a battle over how to measure the economy.

“I was thrilled when Morgan [Spurlock] asked me to participate in the WE THE ECONOMY series. I teamed up with Adam Davidson who made GDP exciting and figured this might be an opportunity to enlighten other folks out there about the economy,” said Henchy.

Don’t come between Patton Oswalt and his lemonade stand in a new short film from Ramin Bahrani.

WE THE ECONOMY is not just for those who may have dozed off during Econ 101 freshman year. Be it actor and comedian Patton Oswalt representing the close relationship between big business and government regulators in Ramin Bahrani’s “Lemonade Wars,” or actor and director Adrian Grenier exploring the hidden value of natural capital in the measurement of our economy in “A Bee’s Invoice” the films cover some heavy topics while being accessible and inspiring.

Watch all the films and join the conversation online at

Cover Photo: Dance and economic models combine in a jazzy short film from Jon M. Chu.

Latest Sponsored
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: