FINDING THE MONEY
DIRECTOR: Maren Poitras
Will an underdog group of economists make us rethink the very nature of money in time to understand what the US government can afford?
Unprecedented government spending to address the Covid 19 pandemic has left many wondering, “where exactly did Congress find all that money?”
Finding the Money traces the rise of a controversial new economic theory dubbed “Modern Monetary Theory” or MMT. Led by Stephanie Kelton, a relatable economist with a knack for public speaking, she asserts for Congress, the sole issuer of the US dollar, “finding the money is actually the easiest part!”
The film follows Kelton and other MMT economists as they journey from ridiculed theorists on the fringes, to the center of the political debate around what the federal government can afford. Her mission is to flip your perception of the national debt literally upside down.
In order to contextualize the modern debate, we take a 5,000 year exploration through the history of money. Animated interludes provide clues as to the nature of money today: Is it a physical object that we have to go out and find? Or has money always been virtual?
I am compelled to make this film because I believe it is the most important story not being told right now. Stephanie Kelton and her cohort of unorthodox economists assert that mainstream economics has the whole story of money wrong, including who creates it, where it comes from, and what gives it value. And she argues, this changes everything in terms of understanding what a nation can afford. Known as Modern Monetary Theory, and developed far from the sanctity of Ivy League Institutions, the ideas have so far invoked near unanimous condemnation from the field of economics. However the outcome of this debate will affect every other political debate citizens are engaged in, from healthcare, to inequality, to climate change. Kelton seeks to flip our understanding of money, debt, and taxes perfectly upside down, and forever change the traditional partisan divide over taxing and spending.
However a deeper look at history is needed to see the full picture and understand the root of the conflict. We introduce the conventional origin story of money as the story of barter. It is this “myth of barter”, which has been called the “foundational myth of economics”. By claiming that money was a natural physical object, outside the realm of human political control, and that ‘the economy’ itself was akin to a ‘natural force’, economics sought to extricate itself from politics and ethics.
This film shows that the story we tell about money matters. It matters whether money was the invention of a naturally occurring private free market, or whether it has always been a tool of political authorities. MMT economists seek to show we humans fundamentally write the rules to the game we call ‘the economy’. I believe it is this revelation which has the most relevance for our current political debate; whether we believe as a society we have the tools and the capacity to address our greatest challenges, or whether we believe we are powerless against the insurmountable force of money.
We watch as mainstream economists resist the change represented by MMT, and we explore the juicy conflict. Is it that certain economists want to hide this information from politicians and the public out of fear of abuse of the ‘power of the purse’? Or could this debate represent a long held misunderstanding over the nature of money of itself?
What can we as a nation afford, and what are the limits? Stephanie Kelton implores us to envision the world we want to live in, one that respects ecological and inflationary limits, but also a world in which anything that is technically feasible is financially affordable. It’s our democracy, it’s our money, and it’s our economy.
|START OF PRODUCTION:||January 2019|
|EXPECTED DELIVERY:||July 2022|
|SHOOTING FORMAT:||UHD 4K, 23.98fps|
|SHOOTING LOCATIONS:||USA: New York, D.C., Virgin Islands and misc.|
|PRODUCTION COMPANY:||Hand Hewn Films|
|PRODUCTION COUNTRY:||United States|
MAREN POITRAS is currently Associate Producer with Codebreaker Films, on their two current documentaries, Enemies of the State (TIFF 2020) and United States vs. Reality Winner (SXSW 2021). She has produced, directed, and shot short form issue-based media for clients ranging from Congressional candidates to environmental NGO’s. Originally from the California Bay Area, Poitras has a background in environmental science and agriculture with a bachelor’s from UC Berkeley. She currently resides off the grid in Western North Carolina.
ADAM RIDLEY is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker based out of Los Angeles. He has edited two documentaries with Sundance premieres (Mitt, Most Likely to Succeed) and was the supervising editor for the Netflix series Last Chance U during its first three seasons. His most recent project is an HBO series set for 2021.
COREY BRICKLEY is a freelance illustrator and designer living and working in Philadelphia, PA. His work includes illustrating the animation sequences for Wild Wild Country, and he specializes in editorial illustration. His clients include The New Yorker, The New York Times, Pacific Standard, The Huffington Post, Vice Magazine, Grid Magazine, Apiary Magazine, WXPN and more.
MARC SMOLOWITZ is a multi-award winning independent filmmaker based in San Francisco. With three decades of experience in the film and media business, Smolowitz is a director, producer, and executive producer who has been significantly involved in 50+ successful independent films wearing many hats across the entertainment industry. | Learn more about Marc’s work here. Marc’s IMDB page.
INES HOFMANN KANNA
Based in Oakland, CA, Ines was born and raised in East Germany. She has been producing and directing film and television projects for over twenty years, including as Supervising Producer at ITVS. Her latest films include: Landfall (2020), Enemies of the State (2020), and United States vs. Reality Winner (2021).
GROUP OF COSTS
|MATERIALS / CONSUMABLES:||$1.00|
|FOOD / TRAVEL:||$21,000.00|
|PURCHASE OF RIGHTS, RENTALS, LEASES:||$27,000.00|
|EQUIPMENT (RENTALS & PURCHASE):||$18,700.00|
|EDITING EQUIPMENT & POST FACILITIES:||$46,600.00|
|MUSIC & ANIMATION:||$95,000.00|
|PR & MARKETING/VERSIONING||$10,000.00|
|GEN. EXPENSES / INSURANCE, OH||$33,155.00|
FINANCING PLAN | FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTORS
|CROWDFUND CAMPAIGN||$19,887.37 • Secured|
|PRODUCER’S CASH||$5,000.00 • Secured|
|PRIVATE DONATION||$5,000.00 • Secured|
|DOCLANDS DOCPITCH||$5,000.00 • Pending|
|BAVC||$10,000.00 • Pending|
|CINEREACH||$50,000.00 • Pending|