Inspired by this film, Judge Roman Martel put on a bright red jacket then started shouting and flashing hand signals to his cat.
The only thing I knew about the trading floor in Chicago was what is featured in Ferris Bueller's Day Off: lots of shouting and hand gestures and Cameron turning into the fourth stooge. Looks like Floored is going to school me in the ways of making serious money.
You've probably seen images of the trading pits. Lots of guys in brightly colored jackets jostling each other, shouting to someone above them, flashing hand signals and scribbling something down on cards. You can see stock prices flashing on the boards and monitors around them, but just what the heck are they doing? And why do so many of them get into shouting and shoving matches?
Floored brings this world to life. It introduces you to the men and women who wake up every morning, head out to the Chicago trading pits and proceed to gamble with massive amounts of money in the hopes of making even more. We meet the folks who make it big, the ones that are tragically destroyed and the ones that can't let go—even when they know it's going to end badly.
Don't worry about following the film if your knowledge of the financial world is lacking. If you're like me and don't know a commodity from a bond, the movie provides a quick history of the Chicago trading floor and explains what the folks are doing with their hand motions and shouting. One of the traders explains it as you see it in action, and suddenly it all starts making sense.
The documentary has two threads. The first detailing the type of person who goes into this line of work and what it does to them. Its fascinating to see these aggressive men and women talk about their first time on the floor, how they made their first big score and what happens whey someone loses it all. As one of the interviewees says, this is high stakes gambling mixed with interpersonal relations. It's not just your attitude on the floor, but who you know and how you interact with the others that helps or hinders you. Each story is compelling and keeps you watching.
But we also witness the evolution of the trading pits, from their heydays in the 1970s and '80s to their deterioration in the '90s to the sorry state they are in now. In the mid 1990s computer trading changed everything. The trading pits became antiquated almost overnight and slowly the commodities these traders depended on moved to a completely electronic realm. Some of the traders are able and willing to adapt and others are fighting tooth and nail to survive on the dying floor. As one of the traders puts it, "It's Darwinism in action."
Director James Allen Smith does an excellent job crafting his documentary. He uses a combination of interviews, stock footage, actual footage of the trading floors, as well as creative editing and montages to keep everything moving and informative. The 77 minute running time just flys by.
From a technical point of view the DVD is solid. The picture had quite a bit of grain in certain scenes, mostly the outdoor ones. It's a bit distracting but seems most likely a product of the cameras used. The sound is clear and well mixed with the musical score by Stefan Scott Nelson.
Where the disc really shines is in its plentiful extras. You get two commentary tracks. One features the director and editor. The other features CNBC contributors who also appeared in the film. There are deleted scenes and an alternate ending. You get to see raw footage from the pit, that was later edited into the film. There is live pit commentary from the "flash crash" of 2010. There's photo montage of the trading floor and a short bit where the creators of the film were at NASDAQ. Finally you get the complete short film Corner in Wheat, a movie made by D.W. Griffith 1904. Scenes from that film were used in Floored.
This documentary does exactly what a good documentary should do. It takes a topic that most people are unfamiliar with and uses it to inform and entertain. Even if you have no interest commodities trading, Floored is worth checking out.
Guilty of being a well made documentary.
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