1. Media Space

  2. Press Releases

Think economics is too complicated or doesn’t concern you? Get an exclusive look at the inner workings of high finance with renowned economist Léon Courville. NFB interactive doc How to Create a Financial Crisis takes an innovative approach to demystifying economics, combining an entertaining, contemporary format with fundamental financial concepts.


October 30, 2017 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Financial crises happen regularly—and repeat themselves. The effects of the 2008 crisis are still with us today, yet the average person still has a limited understanding of economic phenomena. Many think these concepts are too complicated and aren’t relevant to them. This is exactly the sort of thinking that prompted the National Film Board of Canada to produce How to Create a Financial Crisis, an interactive documentary in the form of a text-message conversation with Léon Courville—a professor of economics, former President and Chief Operating Officer of National Bank of Canada, and renowned popularizer of economic science. As a former key player at one of the country’s major financial institutions, Courville offers exclusive insights into the mechanisms of financial crises and the human behaviour behind them. Gaining a better understanding of the complex world of finance and having tools to better access it are important as we approach November, Financial Literacy Month in Canada. This free interactive experience is optimized for mobile phones and accessible on tablets and desktop computers, presenting its complex subject in a dynamic, colourful and entertaining format. How to Create a Financial Crisis was created by a high-profile multidisciplinary team that brought together Courville, writer-creator Charles Trahan, illustrator Katy Lemay, and digital design studio Folklore. The experience was produced at the NFB by Louis-Richard Tremblay.

The experience

In How to Create a Financial Crisis, each user engages in a 20- to 25-minute conversation with Léon Courville, who unpacks five concepts that are vital to understanding the forces at work in the modern financial system. Through these exchanges, the user also meets key players in order to grasp the convoluted mechanisms of a system that collectively can lead to recurring financial disasters. The aesthetics are simple: clear and minimalist, with a human aspect to illustrate the contrast between the economic concepts and the people who have developed them. The goal is to make several fundamental principles of the financial system more accessible via a fun and compelling format, featuring a retro/kitsch look and plenty of humour to facilitate one’s understanding of these ideas. As a result, the general public can gain a greater awareness of the importance of the financial economy to life in a democratic society.

Topics addressed

The user moves from one screen to the next, conversing with various economic stakeholders: consumers, bankers, investors, politicians, and oligarchs.

Léon Courville asks the user to be part of the conversation and to explore the causes of a financial crisis, highlighting five factors that can converge to create one:

  1. Credit and Debt
  2. Securitization
  3. Regulations
  4. Too Big to Fail
  5. Oligarchies

With How to Create a Financial Crisis, the NFB combines strong interactive storytelling and today’s technologies to explore a crucial topic.

The team

How to Create a Financial Crisis is based on a thesis paper entitled “Financial Crisis: A Perfect Storm or Regulatory Failure,” written by Léon Courville.

Léon Courville, Economist

Associate Professor at the École des Hautes études commerciales in Montreal, former President and Chief Operating Officer of National Bank of Canada, and winemaker.

Charles Trahan, Director

Digital content director at Québecor Média, former director and reporter for web and radio programs at Radio-Canada, producer and content manager for numerous mobile and transmedia applications.

Katy Lemay, Illustrator

Katy Lemay creates original collages from unique objects, photos and sketches, mixing vintage and modern in her own unique style. Her work has been published in Time Magazine, The Globe and Mail, Elle and The New York Times, among other publications.

Folklore: David Mongeau-Petitpas (developer) and Marc-Antoine Jacques (creative director) co-founded digital design studio Folklore in 2012. They have collaborated with the NFB (Primal), Radio-Canada and Urbania, among others, to create innovative and award-winning works.

Louis-Richard TremblayProducerNFB

Fascinated by chaos and the creative possibilities of improbable conflations, he invests his energy in projects that illuminate the changes taking place in society.


Video clips

To complement the interactive experience, view these four fun clips
about different economic concepts, as well as a short talk by Léon Courville

Related Products 

How to Create a Financial Crisis: CRISIS.NFB.CA
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis and video clips: How to Create a Financial Crisis

  • Léon Courville, Charles Trahan and the production team will be available to give interviews between October 26 and November 5, in English and French.

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won over 100 awards, including 21 Webbys. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.