Filmmakers Visit Oklahoma to Capture Economic Struggle


Tuesday, February 17th 2009, 11:21 pm
By: News 9


By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

STILLWATER, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma's local economy is the subject of a documentary by two filmmakers touring the nation.

This film is a labor of love for the Chu brothers. One of them lost their job in the tech sector, so he decided to chronicle how other Americans are dealing with the economic downturn.

Brett Johnson, an up-and-coming musician, and his girlfriend Sarah, a college student, weighed in on the economy.

Sarah Murrell's mom is reeling from the erosion of her 401k.

"She said to me that she's worried about her retirement and the percentages that she's losing," Murrell said. "She had been paying for my car insurance, but now I'm paying for it to help her out because I know she's stressed."

It's the same story Austin Chu and his brother, Brian Chu, have heard since January when they decided to tour the country for a documentary on the recession.

"People who were making good money are getting laid off and they can't make their mortgage payments, can't pay for their car, can't send their kids to college," Austin Chu said.

The brothers have already been to 10 states including Oklahoma, and by their account the worst economically hit city is Sin City.

"It's dead, the restaurants are closed," Austin Chu said. "There's no one gambling and it's just an eerie feeling."

Brian Chu actually quit his job as a photographer in the fitness industry to film this project with his brother. It has been quite the education.

"We're all kind of the same," Brian Chu said. "We all go through the same struggles."

Struggles, he believes that could trigger a shift in values.

"As the economy is going down, as the recession is kind of hitting hard, people are going to have to reevaluate what they think is important," Brian Chu said.

Brett Johnson, meanwhile, is holding out hope in the stimulus bill President Obama signed into law.

"This is all about building more jobs, more infrastructure being less dependent on energy sources and that's something that I think we need more than anything," Johnson said.

The Chu brothers hope to finish their film by the spring and they plan to hold screenings in all of the cities they've visited. They hope to raise money for non-profits in those areas.

The brothers plan to visit Oklahoma City Wednesday.