If there’s laughter to be found in Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job, a deeply researched and chilling analysis of how the financial meltdown of 2008 happened, and who was responsible, it’s in the scenes in which Ferguson has the culprits on camera.
On camera and squirming.
There’s Glenn Hubbard (left photo), chief economic advisor in the Bush administration, and now Dean of Columbia’s Business School, agitated and angry as Ferguson presses him on conflicts of interest and the downside of deregulation. There’s David McCormick, former under secretary at the Department of Treasury, looking like he was bonked by a brick as Ferguson points up one contradiction after another. And there’s Frederic Mishkin (right photo), high-profile economist and Columbia prof – and a guy paid $124,000 by the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce to write a favorable report on the country’s financial health just month’s before its banks collapsed – sweating bullets under tough questioning.
“The contentious interviews were the most difficult ones,” says Ferguson, who was nominated for an Oscar for his first doc, No End In Sight. “I knew some of these people personally. But I kept my cool and did my job, even when people were getting very upset, which, obviously, sometimes they did….
“I do realize that [the scenes] have some entertainment value. And that’s good. But I should say that I was not entertained when I was doing it. It was not enjoyable, taking these people apart. It was actually, sometimes, a little bit difficult – it was painful.”