Upwardly Frugal HQ is about 35 miles away from Mr. Money Mustache HQ. That’s too far to bike to. Or to make use of the enticing co-working space. But it’s not too far to find an opportunity to visit… someday.
Someday arrived on April 9th. It was a chance to attend a screening party for Playing With Fire, a documentary about the FIRE movement. I first learned about this project from the Choose FI podcast, and I’ve anticipated its release ever since. I watched the trailer more than once, and I even read the book from cover to cover.
Naturally, I jumped on this opportunity as soon as it was offered via a tweet. I bought a single ticket to attend the event. And for the next few days, I enjoyed the anticipation of being there for the first official screening of Playing With Fire. This was also a good reason to visit MMM HQ.
The event was on a Saturday evening with a reasonable time commitment of a few hours. That meant I could take a break from my work life and dad duties to make it happen. And, like many FIRE enthusiasts, I was eager to see the film.
Shortly before the event, word went out that MMM HQ was running low on chairs and cups. That’s why I entered the building with a camping chair in one hand and one of my daughter’s sippy cups in the other.
Otherwise, my entry was uneventful. No one checked my digital ticket. No one cheered my BYOC effort. In fact, no one seemed to notice my arrival at all. I felt like I’d crashed a party. I saw some familiar faces from years of following certain blogs and podcasts. But nobody knew me.
I maneuvered to the keg of Wibby Brewing India Pale Lager and poured a serving into my sippy cup. I struck up a few conversations. I browsed the bookshelves. I felt awkward but carried on anyway.
The screening began about an hour after I arrived. The audience of 100 or so sat down on all manner of chairs, half of us in one room, half in the other.
Then Mr. 1500 put on his trademark dinosaur shirt and proceeded to warm up the audience with a roaring presentation. He stood on the border of both rooms as he entertained us. He reminded us how life-changing these FIRE concepts are. He hypothesized that the film is “not for us”, but will help explain the movement and convince the normals. In a blog post, he likened it to a gateway drug. I too hope the documentary is successful is this way.
As the sun went down, the film began. Gorgeous color. Big sound. FIRE on the big screen. And to my surprise, chock full of laugh-out-loud scenes. But also moving scenes. The room erupted in cheers and swelled with pride when the film turned its attention on Longmont, Colorado. The shots of the town’s water tower and Mr. Money Mustache biking down the street were epic.
The film’s real focus, though, was the Rieckens family. Scott, Taylor, and Jovie are relatable examples of an upper-middle-class American family. Their spending habits represented an “exploding volcano of wastefulness”, as Mr. Money Mustache might say.
As the Rieckens’ story played out, they had their share of doubts, reluctance, and speed bumps. Taylor, especially, was uncertain as they uprooted their fancy San Diego lives and reduced their spending. But they managed to crank up their savings rate to a high level. And it’s exciting to see what happened as they aligned their spending with their values.
Along the way, we also meet some of the folk heroes of the FIRE movement. Their wisdom and charm are fully evident. The entire film is a fun ride and I don’t want to spoil too much. But it’s the Rieckens’ relatability that will help this documentary break into the mainstream.
The Q and A
After the screening, there was a Q and A session with the filmmakers. Scott and director Travis Shakespeare told the story of the film’s origins and the pivotal Tim Ferris Show interview that started it all. They took several questions and comments from the audience, who clearly loved the final product. And a crew member told an anecdote of how working on the project inspired him to make moves to improve his own family’s finances. Very cool.
So, how can we support the film and help get it into wide distribution? The filmmakers suggest good old-fashioned spreading the word. That’s what I’m doing here. Some Kickstarter backers already have access to the film as a reward for their early support. If all goes well, the rest of us will have access to buy or stream as early as Fall 2019. iTunes, Vimeo, Theaters, Netflix? Who knows how far this FIRE could spread?
Thank you to everyone at MMM HQ Coworking for hosting this unique event.