Monday, February 22, 2016

2016 OSCARS: The Big Short (2015) - The Appeal (or Not) of Fact Intensive/ Documentary Style

[Quick Summary: When a U.S. investor foresees that the housing market will fail (and bets millions that it will fail), others notice and follow suit.]

Here's the story in a nutshell:

- Everyone believed mortgage bonds were fail proof.
- In 2005, Michael Burry, an investment banker, saw that mortgages were being given to people who should not get them, i.e., bad credit plus no jobs. (subprime).
- Burry bought MILLIONS in credit default swaps, i.e., insurance on the mortgage bonds.
- If the bonds tanked, Burry would get paid HUGE (10 to 1, 20 to 1).
- Other investors got wind and started doing the same.

The sad parts are:

- These investors were betting for a U.S. financial collapse so they could profit.
- This was all legal and based on greed.
- The Securities Exchange Commission wasn't paying attention.
- The government had to bail banks out for their greed.

Did I like the script? Yeeessssnooooo.

I admire the filmmakers for attempting to crack this subject matter, as it is very complex and dense.

The script is well written, but there are so many facts that it felt like a documentary.

I focused more on learning than getting involved in the story. 

ex. "MICHAEL BURRY: Did you find it odd that when the tech bubble burst in 2001 the housing market in San Jose, the tech center of the world, went up?

YOUNG ANALYST: Huh. I guess. I mean, no. It's housing. It's always AAA rated, low risk.

MICHAEL BURRY: Yes....That's the idea... (he knows what he needs now) I need you to get me the top 20 selling mortgage bonds.

YOUNG ANALYST: So you want to know what the top 20 selling mortgage bonds are?

MICHAEL BURRY: No. I want to know what mortgages are in each one.

YOUNG ANALYST: Wait, aren't those bonds made up of thousands and thousands of mortgages?

MICHAEL BURRY: Yes.

The Analyst waits for Burry to complete the thought but he doesn't.

YOUNG ANALYST: Right away Dr. Burry."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Writers need to know what kind of story they're dealing with (& what the producers want), in order to see if you and the project are a good fit.

I learned that a fact intensive story/documentary style doesn't really appeal to me.

The Big Short (2015) 
by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Based upon the book by Michael Lewis

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