How do you make a small film about the American economy, the federal government and where they’re both heading? And more importantly, how do you make it appealing to a general audience? How do you make people care about it? As I write this we are five weeks away from our world premiere at Sundance ‘08, and we’re still asking ourselves these questions. We’re still trying to find the heart of this story, and the challenge is made greater since we’re trying to hit a moving target. This story literally changes every day.
Our country is remarkably resilient and has faced serious threats throughout our national history, but the financial cancer that we now suffer from is unlike any challenge we’ve ever faced before. The United States is incredibly wealthy, and our economy is larger than the next four economies in the world combined. But we are living beyond our means, and as Warren Buffett says in our film, “I could do that for a very long time, but I can’t do it forever. At some point I’d max out.” America runs the very real risk of running itself over a cliff financially, and the time to act is right now.
It helps immensely that my wife Christine and I are working with the same team from our last film Wordplay — editor Doug Blush, graphic designer Brian Oakes and composer Peter Golub. If you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by people you love, and filmmakers you trust, there’s really no story you can’t tackle, even one like this. We have developed a real shorthand with our team, and we’ve been able to pull this film together in an incredibly short amount of time. Doug recently showed me a section for the end of the film that included music by Peter and some elements from Brian. We had discussed the ending in general terms, but hadn’t discussed the fine details. As I watched the conclusion of the film I felt my eyes welling up with tears. Somehow we’d been able to take a very dry topic and make it a simple story about people. It’s a heartbreaking story, but I have hope that we as a country can steer clear of the danger that looms ahead.
As for what I wish we had 10 percent more of, that’s easy: I wish there was 10 percent more time between finding out you got into Sundance and the day your film premieres in Park City. But then again, every filmmaker always wishes they had a little more time, don’t they?
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Saturday, Jan. 19, 6:15 pm — Holiday Village Cinema III, Park City]