Dumb Money: Writing biopic as it happened was like 'hopping onto a rollercoaster in the middle of its course'

Writing duo Rebecca Angelo and Lauren Schuker Blum speak to Yahoo UK about making the film

Paul Dano in Dumb Money (BlackBear Pictures)
Paul Dano in Dumb Money (BlackBear Pictures)

Dumb Money charts the true story of a Reddit community taking on Wall Street by buying shares in GameStop, an event that reached its peak in January 2021 and became a global news story that Hollywood rushed to adapt, so much so the writers were working on the script as it was happening they tell Yahoo UK.

Writing duo Rebecca Angelo and Lauren Schuker Blum came on board the project early, writing a script based on a book that wasn't even written yet in order to "get a jump on everybody else", and Angelo likened the experience to "hopping onto a rollercoaster in the middle of its course".

Read more: Dumb Money review: GameStop stock exchange film trades in middling drama

"Hollywood went crazy for the story of course, and Aaron Ryder, our terrific producer, and MGM really hunted down the rights to Ben [Mezrich]'s book before there even was a book, when there was just a treatment," Angelo says.

"It really was a foot race and we were brought on pretty quickly that Spring and just gobbled up as much as we could, learning everything we could."Rebecca Angelo

"And then also getting pages from Ben as he completed his book to get the script down, and solid, and ready to go, as soon as possible so that we could get a jump on everybody else."

Pete Davidson and Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)
Pete Davidson and Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)

The film features an A-list cast, with Paul Dano taking on the lead role of Keith Gill, aka YouTube user Roaring Kitty, the man who inspired the public to start investing in GameStop and stop Wall Street from running it into the ground.

It culminated in GameStop shares going up exponentially, and when trading was forced to a halt Congress stepped in to investigate whether Wall Street had a hand in this. Gill was also called to speak at the congressional hearing on the events that led to stock exchange frenzy.

Read more: Inside 'Dumb Money': New all-star movie shows how rebel Reddit-based GameStop investors 'stuck it to the uber-wealthy'

"This story was really evolving," Blum says of the script-writing process. "For the year that you're writing and then rewriting the script the congressional hearings were happening, the SEC investigation was happening six months later, so it was an evolving process.

UKRAINE - 2021/02/19: Keith Gill, known on Reddit under the pseudonym DeepFuckingValue and as Roaring Kitty, is seen on a fragment of a youtube video displayed on a smartphone screen in front of GameStop logo. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Keith Gill, known as Roaring Kitty, inspired many members of the public to invest in GameStop. (Getty Images)

"But we were huge fans of Ben Mezrich from The Social Network, we studied that film in depth and so we were very excited to adapt his book and then to do our own research."

"It was a little bit like hopping onto a roller coaster in the middle of its course... it was really thrilling and also totally immersive and just really fun."Rebecca Angelo

Gill has stepped away from the spotlight since the Congressional hearing, preferring instead to maintain some form of privacy after being unwillingly thrust into the limelight.

Angelo and Blum explain that they met with Gill during the process but were keen to "protect and respect" his desire to keep his life private beyond the events that the movie is based on.

Shailene Woodley and Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)
Shailene Woodley and Paul Dano in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)

"We consumed every every video, every tweet, everything that Roaring Kitty has issued into the world," Angelo explains.

"He's an incredibly brilliant, funny, singular guy and he's also a very private man. So, we gave them opportunities to participate all throughout the process."

Read more: A year on, GameStop champion Roaring Kitty is quiet - yet much richer (Reuters, 4-min read)

Blum adds that they were "in touch with the family" throughout the writing period.

"They're incredible, they're just everything you want them to be. But, again, we want to let them have their privacy."Lauren Schuker Blum

"But, it was important to us to really get all the real details down to his headband and his cat T-shirts. It's like the experience is really the same as watching his videos"

America Ferrera in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)
America Ferrera in Dumb Money. (Black Bear)

"It's part of why Keith is such a great hero," Angelo chimes in. "Because he's a reluctant hero.

"We live at a time when it seems like everybody is clamouring for attention and fame, and here is a person who found himself the leader of a movement that came together in part because they were inspired by his take, his demeanour, his presentation, and he found this army coalescing behind him in a way that he never intended.

"The grace with which he handled that situation, the glee at moments and just the wildness of the ride, it's such a joy to watch."

Dumb Money is released in cinemas on Friday, 22 September.

Watch the trailer for Dumb Money: