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Web Extras: Upside of the Downturn

Editor’s Note: On Friday’s NewsHour, we aired another in our series of reports on making sense of the recession. The segment is about the “upside of the downturn,” which looks at the silver lining of the economic slump.

Paul Solman: During our interview with Virginia realtor Mary Jane Dimino, she told us a few remarkable things about some unusual activity she’s been seeing in both the lower and higher ends of the real estate market.

While her remarks weren’t relevant to Friday’s story, I figured you might like to see this extra video. The first part is about how her client base is changing to include buyers from other countries, including Iraq.

And for those of you who may wonder about the financial worker “shape up” film we will excerpt in Friday’s report … it’s called “The Job,” by husband-and-wife filmmakers Jonathan Browning and Leslie McManus. Produced in 2007 as a satirical take on the immigration debate, it has turned out to be an almost incredibly prescient send-up of the financial crisis.

Filmmaker Jonathan Browning sent us this about the making of the film:

It is scary how a short created in 2007 comes to be so relevant today. But I think the inspiration for the short will explain why it does work.

When I moved to LA (From Chicago) in 2001 I took any job I could get to pay my bills. This meant working a LOT of bad jobs. One day I was driving down Sunset Blvd. and stopped at a light in front of the Home Depot. I remember feeling sorry for myself and my “lot in life”… I then looked over at the Home Depot and saw a group of men fighting to be picked by a man in a truck. I couldn’t help but wonder how long they had been waiting, how early they must have gotten up, how far they must have traveled to TRY and get a job…

As the light turned green and I drove off, I couldn’t get that image out of my head. I had one question that kept going around and around: “What if I had to do that every morning?”…

“The Job” was born.

It took a number of years to get it actually filmed. I had never written or directed a film. I tried to find someone to write and/or direct the idea. But I couldn’t find any takers. Eventually my wife turned to me and said, “You do it.”

Not knowing how to “set up the shots” or even where to start, I started studying films that I respected. One film I watched over and over again, a film I studied like an athlete might study a game tape, was “Cinderella Man.” You might remember the scenes where the men are chosen to work on the docks. I studied them, the way the men fought to TRY and get a job.

The original idea of “The Job” was to ask the audience the same question I asked myself: “What if you had to do this every day?” … Two years later, it looks like that question is really being asked more and more.

That’s the story.

The reason a short about “immigration” can also be about “the economy” is because in the heart of it, it’s a film about people wanting to work.