Morgan Spurlock Wants You To Understand The Economy

October 14, 2014 11:09 a.m.

The more than $650 million in worldwide box office grosses made by “Guardians of the Galaxy” rivals the GDP of a small island nation. Yet, rarely do we put economic issues and filmmaking together in any other context. (And, really, can the average person on the street actually describe what GDP is?)

It’s circumstances like these that led to the development of WE THE ECONOMY 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford to Miss, a new series from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions and Morgan Spurlock’s Cinelan. Coming to a computer, tablet, smart phone — and yes, even a movie theater — near you on October 21, this series brings together film and economics in ways never before seen, and they can all be viewed for free.

In “City on the Rise,” director Albert Hughes visits Detroit and talks to residents and employers who are helping a great American city bounce back.

WE THE ECONOMY is not just award-winning directors showcasing their creative talents. A group of economic experts, including financial journalists and academics, worked together to create 20 questions about the U.S. economy that we should all know how to answer, and served as advisors to the filmmakers throughout the production process.

The series includes short films by 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 Noujain (‘The Square’), Shola Lynch (Chisholm ’72), Steve James (‘Hoop Dreams’) and Mary Harron (‘American Psycho’).

“It’s important to understand at least a little bit about economics if for no other reason than it’s helpful to understand the world in which we live,” said Jodi Beggs, a WE THE ECONOMY advisor and economics lecturer at Northeastern University. “At the end of the day, economics is all about the study of decision making and household optimization.”

More than 80 participants from movies, television, comedy, journalism, academia, and even the dance world, make up the casts of these films. Addressing questions such as, “What is the real value of a dollar?”, “What do human rights have to do with the economy?” and “Why is healthcare so expensive?”, the short films of WE THE ECONOMY are as entertaining and accessible as they are informative.

It’s not a new My Little Pony spin-off; rather director Adam McKay using animation (and some famous friends’ voices) to address the inequality gap.

“Experts don’t speak in sound bites. And funny improvisers don’t necessarily get to the point quickly. But, finally, we applied a mix of utter silliness to what can be a very technical and serious subject,” said director Bob Balaban about how he approached his short film on globalization.

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