Oscar-winning film director Davis Guggenheim’s new project shines a light on the problems of everyday Americans who don’t have access to financial tools most people take for granted.
“Spent: Looking for Change,” set to debut this summer, is a documentary film that follows a handful of people as they navigate the financial system.
Produced in partnership with American Express, “Spent” aims to illustrate the seriousness of the issue and explore solutions emerging through technology, innovation and education.
In an interview with ABC News’ Amy Robach, Guggenheim, the film’s producer, explained that he was passionate about the topic.
“I get frustrated by the political divide in America, the left and the right, the class – the rich and the poor, and I like to tell stories that help every day American families,” he said. “And this is something that’s so classically unfair, and so easily solvable. And it’s the kind of thing that telling a good story helps.”
In a release about the film, Guggenheim detailed just how hard it could be for people who were underserved by the system.
“Not having a bank account makes it incredibly difficult to manage your day to day finances, it often means you can’t establish credit, and therefore you can’t buy a home, finance a car, or take out a student loan,” he said. “Multiply that by tens of millions of people and you can start to see how it’s possible that entire communities in the U.S. are systemically excluded from economic freedom that most of us take for granted.”
Those people are sometimes forced to turn to pawn shops, check cashing services, and payday loans or title loans to meet basic financial needs, which can incur extremely high fees and interest, according to a 2013 market study of the financially underserved by the Center for Financial Services Innovation and Core Innovation Capital.
“These are hardworking Americans that have to do this and it’s something that’s pulling them down gradually, when we should be pushing them up,” Guggenheim told Robach.
Guggenheim – who was also behind the films “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Waiting for Superman” — said he hoped the film would inspire people to find solutions.
Earlier this year American Express announced several new technology initiatives to promote financial inclusion in the U.S., including a new program to fund startups working toward financial inclusion and a financial innovation lab.
“Spent,” directed by Derek Doneen, will be available for free nationwide on June 4 at www.spentmovie.com.