When Money Breaks: FTX Image

When Money Breaks: FTX

By Alan Ng | March 19, 2024

Up until a few months ago, I didn’t know much about cryptocurrency. The idea of investing in some form of cybercoin with no physical asset to back it up sounded like a scam to me. Then, in January 2022, the crypto market crashed instantly after the fall of FTX. What happened? The world of crypto and the shenanigans at FTX are explored in Richard Jeffrey Whittaker’s documentary, When Money Breaks: FTX.

From the opening frame, When Money Breaks: FTX guides us through the state of crypto with a voiceover by Savannah Betts and gets right into the allure of cryptocurrency. With the rise of inflation and the cost of living, it seems everyone is looking for some side hustle to supplement income. Crypto is an attractive option because it boasts massive and passive returns on investment. The potential of crypto to double…triple…100x…1000x your money is incredible, but there is a massive risk for the greedy and the overly cautious.

Part of the risk is the potential for fraud surrounding crypto. When it started, you had “wallets” that recorded all your purchasing transactions. If you had your “wallet” or passkey lost or stolen, you could lose everything, and there’s no one to sue or prosecute as a result.

That’s where crypto-exchange FTX comes in. FTX manages not only your crypto-currency but also your wallet’s security. A multi-billion dollar exchange now holds your coin and transacts on your behalf. They ran ads during the Superbowl and bought naming rights to a sports arena. They looked legit.

FTX was run by a “kid” named Sam Bankman-Fried. Sam is not your typical young billionaire. He wore t-shirts and jeans to gala events, drove a $20,000 car, donated millions to political candidates, and eventually moved his entire operation to the tax-free Bahama Islands.

“The money and crypto-coin disappeared, and FTX clients lost access to their funds.”

Then it all came crashing down. The money and crypto-coin disappeared, and FTX clients lost access to their funds. From all appearances, it looks like Sam had squandered clients’ funds on extravagant living along with his direct competitor Binance’s intent on destroying FTX. What happened?

When Money Breaks: FTX shows that anyone passionate about uncovering the truth can make a documentary. Whittaker’s film is relatively no-frills but looks like a professionally produced documentary. It’s not yet on the level of HBO or Showtime, but it’s inching ever closer.

I liken Whittaker’s film to an elevated video essay akin to video platforms on YouTube. The difference is that Whittaker took time to do research and carefully script the narrative versus commenting on the situation like an opinion piece.

When Money Breaks goes in-depth into the crypto-currency craze as it stands today. Whittaker’s “essay” is narrated by Betts, and it intercut with news footage and interviews with experts who would talk to him. The sometimes lengthy narration is supported by intricately curated stock video footage to maintain the professional look of the piece throughout.

I really didn’t start following crypto until the fall of FTX, and a lot of my friends lost a lot of money. I had a lot of questions, and while When Money Breaks: FTX confirmed a lot of my suspicions, it also opens my world to some much more prominent players in the game and that Sam Bankman-Fried may not exactly be this generation’s Bernie Madoff.

I’m sure some uppity Ivy-League economist will find a way to tear When Money Breaks: FTX to shreds…mostly become these experts wished they had made a documentary. Whittaker succeeds by breaking down a complicated issue and making it palatable for a bunch of normies in the know like me.

When Money Breaks: FTX (2024)

Directed and Written: Richard Jeffrey Whittaker

Starring: Savannah Betts, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

When Money Breaks: FTX Image

"…succeeds by breaking down a complicated issue and making it palatable for a bunch of normies..."

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  1. Alex says:

    Great documentary which breaks down the world of crypto in a digestible and accessible way. I didn’t feel spoken down to but also came away with a lot of information and felt like I learned a lot, whilst being thoroughly engaged and entertained. It’s a very hot subject and a high quality narrative with excellent execution that feels very well made and professional. Recommend!!

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