"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good."
That of course was Michael Douglas in 'Wall Street'. The film may be a work of fiction, but the way the financial community gets portrayed on the silver screen undoubtedly matters. Oliver Stone's dialogue came to define investment bankers for a generation and it would not be a stretch to draw a straight line from that movie moment to the politics of Dodd-Frank. In fact, we recently attended one financial conference where a European regulator was quoting lines from the film 'Margin Call' (a film we did enjoy despite a few clichéd moments).
Markets and movies have had a long, and occasionally uneasy, relationship. There are the moral fables, 'Wall Street' and 'Margin Call' being good examples. There are the slapstick sendups such as 'Trading Places'. And in the last several years, there has been a new breed of films focused on markets: documentaries.
Inspired by runaway successes such as 'Supersize Me', and helped by the advent of inexpensive video technology, anyone with a spark of an idea can now grab a camera and start filming. There's even a website devoted to the genre: www.financedocumentaries.com .
So after catching a screening of the latest financial documentary, a film called 'Ghost Exchange', we spoke to the filmmaker, Camilla Sullivan, to hear about her experiences trying to examine the far-from-simple subject of HFT for a wide audience, all within 84 minutes.