Local filmmaker Lovell examines economic crash in ‘Forward 13’ documentary
February 21, 2014
Park City resident Patrick Lovell is on a mission.
The former TV producer made a film called "Forward 13," a documentary that examines the underside of the global economic crash of 2008, and wants people to watch it.
While other films such as Chris Smith’s "Collapse" and Charles Ferguson’s "Inside Job," also look at the financial crisis, "Forward 13," took on a more personal angle.
Lovell had it all in 2006.
He was a TV personality on Park City TV. He was involved with the Sundance Film Festival and called the Park City High School football games.
He was also a family man, a homeowner and an award-winning senior producer of a TV show called "Home Team," which had him traveling across the country to surprise deserving families with new home makeovers.
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Then things with the show began to crumble.
"The executive producer, which was a huge commercial real estate development company in the Northwest, went belly up," Lovell told The Park Record. "We couldn’t figure it out, because up until that point, they had the deepest pockets you could imagine.
"Had I known what was on the horizon, I would have tuck-tailed it and ran, because what I went through was absurd," he said.
Out of a job, Lovell used his savings to fulfill his dream of owning his own production company.
"I wanted to create television shows that were on National Geographic and Discovery Channel," he said. "I had a great reputation in the business and contacts all over the place, but I needed to hire a staff and sought out an investor."
It looked like Lovell would launch his dream job on Sept. 15, 2008, the day the American economy tanked.
"My investor pulled out because he was losing money, as was the rest of the country," Lovell said. "I didn’t have a plan B, and had big expenses at the time, because I was spending more than I should have and found myself overextended and had no way of bringing in the same amounts of money that I had been before."
Lovell and his wife took on extra service jobs at restaurants and ski shops in an attempt to make ends meet and refinanced their home.
"We were getting the runaround, so we stopped paying our mortgage for a month and that got people’s attention," Lovell said. "We worked out a deal on a modified rate, and paid on it for about a year and a half."
During that period, the Lovell found their loan was handed off to a servicer.
"The long and the short of it was that we had to come up with an additional $25,000 or the house would go into foreclosure," Lovell said. "That meant our modified rate wasn’t working for them even though we had been paying it."
The couple was exhausted and couldn’t come up with any more money and lost their home.
"All this time, I began developing an idea about a way to tell our story," Lovell said.
He had dutifully watched all the news and cable shows that talked about the economic crisis, but found no one was telling his story.
"’60 Minutes’ and the other mainstream media ran pieces about people who stopped paying their mortgages because they couldn’t afford it anymore, but they weren’t talking about people who had been paying their modified rates, but were still going to lose their homes, anyway."
After a little investigating, Lovell found that banks forced people into foreclosures by handing the modified rates to servicers who got government contracts.
"The banks wrote down these as toxic assets, which means they wouldn’t get taxed on it," he said. "They got the bailout insurance money and inflate their giant portfolios and sold the modified rates to investors who created rental properties. In short, the financial industry conned the American people."
So Lovell took it upon himself and used his personal experiences to film his documentary, which features families and individuals who were in similar situations across the country.
Lovell talked with author Jeremy Rifkin, president of Foundation on Economic Trends, Jeffrey D. Sachs, the director of Earth Institute, Common Cause spokeswoman Mary Boyle and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, to name a few.
"In context to the film, I’m just a guy who went through what millions of Americans have gone through," he said. "My film is a journey into the truth to show how the financial industry got into the commodities game."
Lovell started on the filmmaking journey on Nov. 17, 2011, the day the Occupy Wall Street movement began. So Lovell visited, filmed interviews at many of these protests around the country.
"’Forward 13′ takes you on that trip to show you how it works," Lovell said. "Hopefully, the film serves as a call to action for America to wake up and stop buying what the beast is selling. You have to stop buying these derivatives and stop investing, because they are destroying the world."
That said, the filmmaker wants people to know that he isn’t saying capitalism is bad.
"On the front end, it’s fantastic, because it creates innovation, new jobs, money and all this other stuff," he said. "On the back end, however, it gets to this component about maximizing profits. In a global setting it doesn’t matter how that’s done. If [industries] need to cut into environmental regulations or exploit third-world labor to do this, it’s OK.
"Then you have off-shores outsourcing and things that continue to push down the middle class," Lovell said. "So, the conundrum is if the middle class is continually pushed down, who is going to be the consumer society? The whole balance is off."
While filming "Forward 13," Lovell did some of his own reflecting.
"Before I went through this nightmare, I was a believer in the system," he said. "I believed that anyone could become who they wanted to become based on their effort, integrity and hard work, and that the system would pay you back for your hard work in the long run.
"That’s why people go to college," he said. "That’s why you become a professional, but then you find out the system is all a façade. And that’s what ‘Forward 13’ is about."
He did add that the film doesn’t try to give him and people like him a break, either.
"It’s about accountability," he said. "I’m accountable for spending too much, but here are these banks that get their bailout, and they aren’t held accountable for what they did."