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Follow the Money: Hackney directors chase $10 bill across America for movie showing at East End Film Festival

PUBLISHED: 13:02 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:02 13 June 2017

The three directors in the car: Steve Boggan (left), Ben Unwin and John Hardwick.

The three directors in the car: Steve Boggan (left), Ben Unwin and John Hardwick.

ben unwin

Three Hackney directors who embarked on a madcap adventure to follow a $10 bill around America will see their film's UK premiere at Hackney Picturehouse.

The $10 bill being handed over.The $10 bill being handed over.

Follow the Money is based on a book of the same name, written by journalist Steve Boggan. He was initially reluctant to repeat the escapade with his mates John Hardwick and Ben Unwin, who thought the idea would make a good movie – but after they “plied him with alcohol” he agreed.

They started out in the “one horse town” of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, where officials from the chamber of commerce marked the allotted $10 bill with the stamp they use – indicating the town’s location as the geographical dead centre of the USA.

“That’s how we knew it was the right bill that was coming out of the tills, but I don’t want to give the impression this is a film about money,” said Ben, who lives in Stoke Newington. “It’s a film about trust.”

He added: “People talk about north America in wide sweeping generalisations, but people are different wherever you go.

A handover of the $10 bill.A handover of the $10 bill.

“But they are united in the fact they love a crazy idea. You could see it in their eyes.”

The trio travelled 6,000 miles in their car, staying at motels along the way, and felt they were “in the lap of the gods” in terms of people’s trust.

“Sometimes people would get the bill and spend it in half an hour,” said Ben. “Other people kept hold of it for a while and there was an agreement and they would call us and say: ‘I’m going to spend it now – meet me at this place.’

“We never had a single person turn us down. People were very hospitable. One or two people checked our credentials, just to make sure, but some let us stay in their houses.”

Ben Unwin filming the $10 bill being handed over.Ben Unwin filming the $10 bill being handed over.

They raised the final £17,000 needed for post-production through a crowdfunding campaign, and the film has gone on to win awards at the Kentucky and Mississippi film festivals.

The film screens at Hackney Picturehouse on Saturday as part of the East End Film Festival. See eastendfilmfestival.com/programme-archive/follow-the-money for more.

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