Vulcan Productions and Morgan Spurlock Take on the Economy

The goal for Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions, We The Economy was simple: Demystify the economy.

But reaching that goal was complicated.

To help explain this complex topic, Vulcan Productions partnered with Morgan Spurlock’s Cinelan and 20 award-winning directors to create a short-film series. Through radically differing styles, each short heightens viewers’ awareness and offers them a keener understanding of the U.S. economy.

The films identify 20 seemingly simple key topics about the economy that every American should know, such as “What is the economy?” “What is money?” “What is globalization?” Not sure how to answer? Don’t worry. The series of films is accessible on a multitude of levels and offers a neat package of information and entertainment.

“We said, ‘How do we produce content that can reach the widest possible audience?” says Vulcan Productions creative director and general manager Carole Tomko. “Let’s reach out to a broad variety of really diverse filmmakers, partner them with economic advisors, create a site that is a huge toolkit for people, and let’s turn the distribution model on its head.”

The results come in the form of myriad, often offbeat, filmic approaches that range from animated shorts to documentaries. Adam McKay, director of the Anchorman movies, employed fluorescently colored cartoon alpacas to explore inequality. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “When you think of economic inequality, you probably don’t conjure up images of rainbows, lollipops and colorful alpacas.

Films also feature appearances and voice-overs by some of Hollywood’s most famous actors and actresses, like Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, and Maya Rudolph, the voices of three furry creatures (Sunshine, Happy, and Giggles) in McKay’s short.

The series broke distribution barriers. We The Economy was released nationwide at Landmark Theatres, as well as for free on more than 50 digital, cable and mobile platforms including Amazon, and Netflix..

“The big thing for me was instant access—I want people to have instant access to these films whenever and wherever they watch media—whether that’s on a phone, in the house, or on your computer screen at work,” said Spurlock.

This opportunity couldn’t have been aimed at a more appreciative audience. “For those of us who slept through Econ 101 in college,” wrote The DailyDot, “this colorful, informative look at why there’s never enough money at the end of the month is a welcome tutorial.”