Wonga the movie: coming soon to a screen near you

The payday lending company has made a film to show how it has touched customers' lives. Artsy...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 13 Nov 2013

When your brand has been taken to the cleaners by everyone from business minister Jo Swinson to the Archbishop of Canterbury and even Radio 4 legend Nicholas Parsons has given up doing your ads, rehabilitating your good name is a tricky business.

Points to Wonga for thinking outside the box, anyway: it’s hired Bafta-nominated director Gary Tarn to produce ‘12 Portraits’, a documentary featuring interviews with 12 of the payday lending site’s customers. We can picture it now: the artfully arranged shots, the soft lighting, Nigel from Woking talking emotionally about how a Wonga-funded holiday to Majorca changed his life….

The film - which Tarn has called a ‘modern, authentic and relevant portrait of British life’ (apparently making it sound artsy was part of his contract) - premieres at London’s Curzon cinema tonight.

He added: ‘Wonga has over a million customers in the UK and my aim is simply to make portraits of a few of them by focusing on one aspect of their lives  the company has touched on.’ Apparently he had a ‘completely free brief’ for the project - which resulted in the completely unprecedented concept of filming a bunch of testimonials from customers…

To be fair to the company, it’s at the more responsible end of a spectrum of payday lenders, some of whom have been closed down by the government. Tomorrow, the bosses of some of them will begin to appear before a committee of MPs to explain their lending practices. Perhaps Tarn can make a sequel.

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