The Second Part of That Film About Money

Director – James Schamus
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What do banks do with our deposits?
You think that banks are where your cash is stored and safeguard and that a dollar bill is money. Well, you’re wrong. Like, really wrong.

Written & Directed by: James Schamus
Produced by: Mridu Chandra and James Schamus
Associate Producer: Gustavo Rosa
Directors of Photography: Kirsten Johnson and Peter Bowen
Editor: Eron Otcasek
Design: Work-Order Co.
Original Score: Jay Wadley
Score Produced by Found Objects
Anat Admati
Mridu Chandra
Barbara Garson
Suresh Naidu
Gustavo Rosa
James Schamus
Richard D. Wolff
Location Sound: Judy Karp
Production Assistants: Pablo Tamarin and Djuna Schamus
Insurance: Reiff & Associates, LLC
Legal: Susan Bodine
Post Production Facility: Prime Focus Technologies
Online Editor: Eugene Lehnert
Coloris: Eric Alvarado
Offline Edit: Point Made Films
Re-cording Mixer: Rob Daly
Sound Design: Timmy Quinn

Archival Footage / Photo Sources:
Allstar Products Group/Snuggie Blanket
Archive Holdings Inc. / The Image Bank / Getty Images
iStock / Alandj
iStock / Claudiodivizia
iStock / Gerenme
iStock / Gregobagel
iStock / Peopleimages
iStock / Trekandshoot
Jeff Snyder / Filmmagic / Getty Images
Marshall / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Reuters/Ben Nelms / Ariadna De Raadt
Solent News and Photo Agency
Spencer Platt / Getty Images News / Getty Images
U.S. Department of the Treasury / Bureau of Engraving and Printing
WPA Film Library
Thank you:
Anthony Arnove
Brenda Coughlin
Tony Gerber
Scott Macaulay
Skylight Group
Production Junction
Deionna Wilburn
(c) 2014 Symbolic Exchange Ltd. all rights reserved.

James Schamus

JAMES SCHAMUS is an award-winning screenwriter (“The Ice Storm”) and producer (“Brokeback Mountain”), and former CEO of Focus Features, the motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company whose films have included “Milk,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “The Pianist,” “Coraline,” and “Dallas Buyers Club.” He is professor of Professional Practice in Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches film history and theory. He is also the author of "Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word," published by the University of Washington Press, and is currently completing another book, "My Wife is a Terrorist: Lessons in Storytelling from the Department of Homeland Security," for Harvard University Press. He earned his BA, MA, and Ph.D. in English from U.C. Berkeley. His current projects include (as Executive Producer) “Suffragettes,” starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep, and (as Producer) “Alone in Berlin,” starring Emma Thompson.

Director's Note

“I have a conflicted relationship both with the topic of ‘the economy’ and with the premise of the series as a whole. Indeed, the concept of the ‘economy,’ even its constitution as an object of scientific study, as a thing, is relatively recent, and to me smells of an ideological maneuver wherein we replace what are essentially political relations with a mystifying body of social science ‘knowledge’ to be managed and manipulated by financial/political elites.

The premise of WE THE ECONOMY is to make otherwise complex, obscure, or academic ideas approachable and understandable by laymen, thus empowering us to participate more knowledgeably in public debates about policy etc. That’s a laudable premise I’m proud to be associated with. But the danger of it is that it already assumes that what is being made digestible - ‘economics’ — is somehow an ‘objective’ object of knowledge, rather than being itself already, in the very way it packages its concepts and ideas, a field of political decision and social action — one which helps naturalize the grotesque domination of people and natural resources of our current system.

My few minutes’ contribution to the endeavor, in the classic form of an ‘educational video,’ goes for a couple of takeaways: primarily, that no one who watches my films will ever again be able to think of money and banks as ‘natural’ objects, but rather will see them as sites of profound and enduring social and political struggles - struggles that everyone has a right to participate in.”


Which of the following are forms of money?

  • 8% $20 bills
  • 82% All of these
  • 5% Certificates of deposit
  • 5% Checks written on a bank account
82% of respondents chose the correct answer: All of these.

Dollar bills, checks, and certificates of deposit are easily exchanged for goods and services and thus are considered forms of money. All of these are considered fiat money that has no intrinsic value, but can be used as money because a government decreed that it has value for that purpose.

America has the “almighty dollar” but what currency has greater value currently in circulation?

  • 47% The euro
  • 8% The Japanese yen
  • 15% The Chinese yuan
  • 29% The British pound
47% of respondents chose the correct answer: The euro.

The euro (sign: €; code: EUR) is the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union and is the official currency of the eurozone, which consists of 18 of the 28 member states of the European Union. It is used by an estimated 334 million Europeans and was officially adopted in 1995.

In 1626 Peter Minuit acquired Manhattan from local Indians for goods worth 60 Dutch Guilders. How much was that worth?

  • 13% $2,000,000
  • 15% $2,000
  • 13% $20,000
  • 60% $24
60% of respondents chose the correct answer: $24.

Although Minuit purchased Manhattan for what was then $24 of shells and trinkets, Wampum was considered a true currency. Wampum was used by European traders in the region, but the ease by which they produced their own wampum caused inflation. Also, purchasing land was not something that Indian cultures of the time understood, rather, they believed they were loaning the land to Minuit.

Did you know?

  • U.S. currency is the most traded currency in the world.

  • U.S. currency bears the motto - E Pluribus Unum - One From Many. This phrase was first added in 1902.

  • The U.S. Secret Service was created during the Civil War to fight counterfeiting.

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