Slope of the Curve

The animated short sounds the alarm on a looming U.S. unemployment crisis.


Marshall Curry, the Academy Award-nominated documentarian, has directed the new animated short “Slope of the Curve.” The film was commissioned by WorkingNation, a new not-for-profit national campaign dedicated to preparing the American workforce for the changing employment demands of the U.S. economy.

“Slope of the Curve” uses humor, surprising data and an entertaining, constantly morphing animation style to define and explain a looming unemployment crisis in the United States that threatens the jobs of nearly half the American workforce over the next 20 years.

It premiered on and was published on CNNMoney on Sept. 2 to coincide with the launch of the WorkingNation campaign.

Narrated by “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson, the film explains in a digestible way how the U.S. jobs market is rapidly changing as a result of advances in technology, automation, and other factors, and why it’s so important for everyday Americans to begin preparing now for an uncertain future.

The film, written by Curry and co-producer Dan Koehler, digs into the factors contributing to the growing employability gap in the United States and illustrates the impact it’s already having – and is poised to have – on millions of middle class lives.

“I love the challenge of taking complex ideas that might seem dry on the surface and turning them into fun, entertaining, visually-compelling films,” Curry said.

“The job market in America is changing, and hopefully this piece will help people understand these changes so that we can adapt and prepare for the future.”

Michael Bonitatis, an animation professor and founder of Animation Libation Studios, served as director of animation for the film. WorkingNation partnered with Bonitatis and Animation Libation Studios, in part, because of the studios’ unique mission to connect newly emerging artists with industry veterans on collaborative projects.

Bonitatis recruited recent animation graduates to work on the project who were otherwise out of work or underemployed in the animation field. For many, it was their first major production and an example of WorkingNation highlighting and working with an organization offering the type of scalable, grassroots skills development and employment solutions that will be required across industries to solve the looming crisis.

“Slope of the Curve” was executive produced by Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer, two former producers for ESPN who are leading WorkingNation’s production of original content.

Lynch is a former vice president and executive producer of content development at ESPN, where she oversaw the award-winning “30 for 30” documentary series, among other projects. Panzer, a Clio Award-winning producer, is also president of Don’t Panic Productions.

“This massive issue facing the U.S. isn’t being explained to the American public in a way that hits home,” Lynch said. “It took a year to break down a complicated topic into an easily digestible story that hopefully anyone can understand.”

“We believe that ‘Slope of the Curve’ will serve as a great introduction to the issue and its causes and get people to start thinking about whether they are ready for the future of work,” Panzer added.

“Slope of the Curve” is the second animated short from director Curry, who is widely acclaimed for his piercing documentaries on social issues. His previous works include the feature-length documentaries “Street Fight”, exploring the urban politics during Cory Booker’s first run for mayor of Newark, NJ, and “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”, about a radical environmentalist who faced life in prison for burning two Oregon timber facilities.

“Street Fight” won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award and an Emmy. “If A Tree Falls” was also nominated for an Academy Award and garnered Curry the Sundance Film Festival award for Best Documentary Editing.

Founded by venture capitalist Art Bilger, WorkingNation exists to expose hard truths about the looming unemployment crisis and bring the country together to create new jobs for a changing economy. Bilger serves as CEO of WorkingNation and has assembled a team of talented journalists and media and non-profit executives to carry out its mission. WorkingNation’s efforts include a series or original programming from award-winning directors and producers as well as other forms of interactive multimedia outreach to everyday Americans.

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