64. Charles Ferguson

Political scientist and filmmaker

Not many Oscar speeches include a call for indictments: "Three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud," noted Charles Ferguson as he accepted the best documentary award for Inside Job, "not a single financial executive has gone to jail. And that's wrong." Odd? Maybe, but true to form for Ferguson, a scary-smart former foreign-policy wonk with a knack for turning dense talk of derivatives into entertainment. Ferguson's still unhappy with the lack of perp walks but is cheered that the American Economics Association is adopting an ethics code to rein in on-the-take academic economists.

Process

When trying to do something you've never done before--start a software company, make a movie--if you can surround yourself with fabulous people, they will teach you your job.

The trailer for Inside Job.

Inspiration

How did you know that this was what you wanted to do?


I've semi-secretly wanted to make films since I was about 10, and I've been obsessed with movies my whole life. In high school, I had a friend whose father worked for the National Film Board of Canada, and I started going to films and film festivals… but it seemed very remote and other-worldly to actually make films. Nobody in my family or circle of friends did that (when I was young). When I finally ran out of excuses not to try, and plunged in, it turned out to be even better than I had dreamed.

Watch a interview with Ferguson from the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

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