Documentary Series: We The Economy (2014). Paul G. Allen – the Microsoft co-founder – and Morgan Spurlock – of Super Size Me fame – have partnered through their production entities, Vulcan Productions and Cinelan respectively, to produce We The Economy, 20 short films. Each film focuses on a specific aspect of the economy and at 5 – 10 minutes each, they are easily digested.
The series aims to drive awareness and establish a better understanding of the U.S. economy; and seeks to demystify a complicated topic while empowering viewers to take control of their own economic futures. Each film is directed by an acclaimed filmmaker, each with their own creative vision, and the lessons are shared through animation, comedy, musical, non-fiction, and scripted films.
A panel of top economic experts including academics, analysts, journalists, and historians helped identify 20 key topics about the U.S. economy that every American should understand. Those and other economic advisors worked with the different filmmakers to shape the topics that answer the following questions: what is the economy, what is money, what is the government’s role in the economy, what is globalization, and what causes inequality?
Among my favorite films within the series are the fifth film, A Bees invoice; the Hidden Value in Nature, the seventh (and eighth films as it is broken into two parts), That Film About Money (and That Second Film About Money) and the twelfth film, An Animated Film on the Debt & the Deficit.
A Bees invoice; the Hidden Value in Nature uncovers and incorporates the hidden value of natural capital in the measurement of our economy; and asks questions such as, “Are natural resources vital to the economy and why should nature be taken into account when looking at the economy as a whole?” That Film About Money discusses concepts such as fractional reserve banking and asks questions such as, “What is the real value of a dollar and what do banks do with our deposits?”
An Animated Film on the Debt & the Deficit asks, “Why do we have budget deficits and a national debt?” and does a nice job explaining the difference between debt and the deficit, something many people are confused about and in fact, often use the terms interchangeably. I also thought the ninth film, Recession, did a nice job of explaining the what and how of the economic event … plus I really enjoyed the choreography of the Pilobolus Dance Company in the film. Additionally, City on the Rise and Made by China in America, the 16th and 17th films in the series, did a nice job at looking at the impacts of globalization on the economy as a whole and manufacturing specifically.
In a nice gesture, the producers have made the films available for streaming, free, via the We The Economy website and Netflix, YouTube and Amazon. I absolutely recommend that you carve out some time, perhaps this weekend, to watch this series.