THE Hollywood hit rate for films about business is surprisingly good, with flicks like the Oscar-winning Social Network and 1980s shoulder-pad classic Wall Street all proving good popcorn fodder.
But a new offering threatens to upset all that. Wonga: The Movie, a forthcoming feature film about the under-fire payday lender, is due out at the end of this year.
Sadly, much to the chagrin of bad-film lovers everywhere, audiences will not be treated to the tense stagecraft of a Ben Kingsley or Ashton Kutcher playing Wonga boss Errol Damelin in a heated exchange with the Archbishop of Canterbury, but a gritty arthouse documentary on people living with debt called “12 Portraits”.
Wonga’s left field choice for the artsy project is Bafta-nominated independent director Gary Tarn, who has been given carte blanche to produce a feature film on 12 Wonga customers.
Tarn is the man behind the 2005 film Black Sun, a well received movie telling the tale of a French artist blinded during a violent assault in New York in 1978.
“I have a completely free brief and see the film becoming a reflection of modern Britain, and Wonga’s place in it, as opposed to a documentary on Wonga the company,” Tarn said.
Tarn says he is drawing inspiration from old school documentary The Idea of North made by deceased Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, and the seven-volume photography collection People of the 20th Century by photographer August Sander.
The arthouse approach ties in well with Wonga’s heritage; the business was co-founded by Jonty Hurwitz, who is now a top sculptor.
Wonga says it is producing the film to counter negative headlines and perceptions linked to its business might showcasing the “silent majority” using Wonga.
However, if the company really wants to win over critics, The Capitalist proposes an easier solution: a three-hour Thunderbirds-esque epic featuring the elderly Wonga puppets Betty, Earl and Joyce, all battling against the mounting forces of credit unions, MPs, and religious leaders.
It’d be a straight-talking money-spinner.