Drawing on a wide and interesting selection of interviewees, Four Horse is a bold attempt to dissect the current economic climate and the very concept of money and economics.

The film is receiving a limited release in UK cinemas from today and I was recently given the opportunity to speak to Dominic Frisby, who fills me in on his role within the production, the language of finance, writing for an audience and much more. Read the interview in full below.

Dominic Frisby’s background prior to the film.

I’ve been a comic for many years and I’ve done voiceovers for many years. I’ve narrated God knows how many programmes and adverts and cartoons, and God knows what else. But, a few years ago I became very interested in the economy and started writing for a magazine called Money Week. I built up quite a following in Money Week because I told everyone to get out of housing before the bust, I told everyone to buy gold before it went up. Because I got my big calls right and because I was able to put economics and finance in a language that people could understand I built up a reasonably big following. I think I’m the only comedian who knows as much about finance and economics, I don’t think there’s anyone else who wears both hats, if you see what I mean.

Coming to work on the film and his role.

What happened with the film is that Ross, the director, made a version of the film which he’d been working on since about 2007, I think, and he came to me in 2010 and showed me a cut of the film and said, ‘Look this isn’t working, we need you to come and sort it out for us.’ And I looked at the film and there were some really good ideas in there and there was passion in there. So I basically spent every spare moment I had in the next six months just re-ordering the film, I was in the edit room with Simon Modery, the editor, who is a very clever guy and very hard-working, and I just sat in an edit booth with him re-ordering the film, giving it more of clear line through, giving it more structure, and more than anything else just writing, writing, writing and rewriting, rewriting and rewriting again.

The film is very ambitious, it’s basically trying to explain and unravel the whole economy. I mean huge tomes have been written about economics so trying to do it in a 90 minute film is quite a big ask. In a funny kind of way we just ran out of time, I think it’s known that you’re never happy with the final version and I would have liked another few months on it but some of the stuff in the film I’m pretty pleased with. And like I say, if this film is to have an audience it’s got to be in a language that people can understand. I think that’s a task of the writing.

One of the things I brought to the film was the thing on the issue of money and the injustice it creates. There’s an animated video about our system of money and that our system exacerbates the gap between the rich and poor.

Breaking through the language of finance.

…I don’t have a financial and economic background, it’s something I came to as an outsider. My business has always been making people laugh and if you’re trying to make people laugh they’ve got to understand you, if they don’t understand you they’re got going to laugh, you’ll lose their attention. Clarity is essential if you’re going to tell jokes.

I do think that the world of finance deliberately uses a slightly opaque language in order to, almost, like the George Orwell quote – “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity” – make it unclear in order to alienate people and reinforce their own positions. It’s a bit like when you go to an office and people use that corporate office jargon and you think, no-one speaks like that. It’s like a way of putting a barrier up to protect your position and to make yourself less vulnerable.

The quantity of material used to create Four Horsemen.

Ross is very good at securing interviews, we have lots of very interesting guys in there. We just had hours of interview material. To try and cobble it together in some kind of logistical order was a hell of an ask. There are 23 different people interviewed and they were all interviewed for a good half an hour or an hour at least so up to 23 hours of material that you’ve got to turn into 90 minutes of film. There was a lot of interesting commentary in it.

It had no budget either, that’s another big achievement, it was made with no budget at all and Ross is just very good at getting good people to work for him and there was a lot of juggling and improvising and stuff like that to get the film finished.

The title, the tone set by the title and using an apocalyptic phrase.

Ross had called it The Four Horsemen but I tried to kind of tie that in and have a theme of each of the four horsemen – conquest, war, famine and disease. To try and have a chapter on each of the horsemen, if you like, so the thing had more of a structure.

I think we have a very apocalyptic beginning, we have these four horsemen riding roughshod through the economy and we’re going through this cycle where we’re reaching the end of Empires but Ross and I talked about this, pretty much agreeing that we didn’t want it to be doom and gloom, we wanted there to be a positive message to the film so people could walk away from it with a feeling of optimism. We discussed it but we both arrived at the same conclusion independently of each-other. There are solutions, there are economic systems that are much fairer and it’s not that big of an ask to move to these systems. Ross is in favour of changing our system of taxation to Land Tax, he’s big on that kind of Georgian economics, and I’m a big fan of Austrian economics, which is very pro-natural law. We hope ultimately that we’re inspiring change and people will walk away feeling angry but also positive.

Making it for an audience, the tricky ground between it going over some people’s head and under others.

One of the skills, if you like is, is to explain to those that don’t know without patronising those who do know. That’s the big ask. You say, who’s the target audience for the film? Well, I mean, It’s aimed at everyone but I think it’s aimed at the same people who like films such as Zeitgesit, a kind of liberal audience. I mean, I’m 42 and I’m not sure how old Ross is, mid-thirties I think, but the under thirty-fives are quite motivated and I think Ross is trying to tap into the same kind of people who got up and were part of the Occupy movement, the same people who were supporting Ron Paul, the same people who watch Zeitgeist, all the people who feel alienated and pissed off and want some kind of change.

The flip-side of this and the problem of apathy and young people not voting.

I actually wrote a sketch about that. I used to have a slot on a programme called Loose Ends on Radio 4 and I used to do the party political broadcasts on there and after the 2000 election I did the victory speech by the apathy party [laughs]. I was always very pleased with that. I think people don’t vote because for all the people saying voting makes a difference, it doesn’t really. If you look at the choices between Labour and the Conservative party in this country there’s no difference. And if you look at Mitt Romney’s policies – it looks like he’s going to win the Republican nomination – they’re pretty much the same as Obama’s. So it all pretty much boils down to which one you like more, the policies are pretty much the same.

Future plans and documentary filmmaking.

I would like to make a documentary from scratch because, like I said, I came to this one late. I would like to do one from scratch and I’ve got an idea about one I’d like to do bout the relationship between economics and the natural world. And I’d also like to do one about gold and money. It’s something I’d like to do but i haven’t got any imminent plans to do it. I am writing a zombie film, and I have been given some money to make a zombie film, so that’s going to be one of my focuses over the next couple of years.

You can find Dominic Frisby’s YouTube channel here and watch a clip from Four Horsemen below.

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