About The Production
In the 1990s, the number of
new American millionaires reached astonishing proportions. Today, one out of
every 36 working Americans is in the millionaire category, and the numbers are
rising not falling. We live in an age when being really, really rich is
considered really, really cool. And, for some, the faster you get rich the
better. Kids just barely out of college have ridden the cyberboom and the bull
market to instantaneous wealth. 20 year-old secretaries at Microsoft have stock
options worth millions. 19 year-old rappers have 400-acre estates. 30 year-old
brokers are stockpiling Ferraris.
But for those without an Ivy
League education or a Silicon Valley connection, for those like Seth Davis who
want or need a quick way into the world of wealth and respectability, there is
another alternative: the boiler rooms.
In the boiler room of a
hard-sell brokerage firm, a hard-working, smart-mouthed kid off the streets can
make a million bucks in mere months by selling dubious stock over the phone.
Here's the way it works: employees of boiler rooms pressure their cold-call
customers any which way they can into buying stock in unknown or bogus companies
for huge commissions. Once the price of the stock is driven high enough,
insiders sell, making fortunes for themselves and often wiping out the savings
of innocent investors.
Few outsiders have ever seen
the scams and pressure-cooker techniques of boiler rooms up close. They are
seductive, secretive firms where only those trained and recruited to be loyal
are allowed inside. Often staying just one step ahead of the law, the brokerage
firms take no chances. (Recently, the North American Securities Administrators
Association made prosecuting boiler rooms a top priority).
Bucking the secrecy,
first-time writer/director Ben Younger wanted to crack open this hidden world.
He saw the boiler room as the perfect setting for a high-wire drama about the
new roving packs of unattached young men who find honor in the dollar, who chase
after mega-fortunes without the faintest clue of what to do with them.
"The boiler room is a
world that people have never really seen," comments Younger, "and I
wanted to get this on the screen." Younger, a New York native, was himself
recruited by a brokerage boiler room when he was a struggling screenwriter
making the transition from being a grip and cameraman. "I went into the
recruiter's office knowing nothing about finance and this guy just walks in and
tells us we're all going to make a million dollars within two years of being
hired," recalls Younger. "It was incredible. I looked around the room
and there were lots of other kids there younger than me and I was only 20 years
old at the time. It was like a Fascist Youth rally and I just knew right then
and there this was going to be the subject of my first script. I started writing
Although Younger didn't take
the boiler room job, he did observe first-hand the adrenaline rush, the
foul-mouthed fraternity, the smooth-talking methods for making outrageous sales.
He also conducted extensive interviews with boiler room veterans, many of whom
spoke on condition of total anonymity.
Explains Younger: "In
the beginning, what I wanted to do is just park myself in a boiler room and live
there for eight months. But no one would let me inside. So instead I talked to
people who worked there, sat for hours
with my tape recorder as if making a documentary. I did this for a year,
completely absorbing this world. I stayed true in the script to the way it
really is - misogyni
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