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Playing with fire docu

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:52 pm
by Berninger

Anybody here knows when we can watch this docu? I saw a trailer in 2018, and it said comming in jan 2019.

Still can't find when the release date is... ... t#releases

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:17 pm
by C40
I saw someone talking about it on a FIRE Facebook group and they said it is quite some time out from being finished. (like many months or maybe years)

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:28 am
by Fish
The subject of the documentary (Scott Rieckens) also wrote a book of the same name which was published in January.

My initial pessimistic reaction was that it was a rather shameless (but clever) way to monetize a FIRE journal/blog. However, as an easy-moder I found their experience very relatable; they started with an after-tax income of $142,000 and expenses of $120k with a spending goal of $50-60k for their family of 3. The author’s journey starts at Wheaton level 0 (boat club + BMW lease) and ends around 4/5 (dinners at home + $6.5k used car).

They make some of the big decisions, like cutting the car leases, moving away from the expensive San Diego suburb, and sticking to their budget by declining to buy their dream house in Bend, OR when it escalates into a bidding war. They experience challenges like maintaining a social life without dining out and trying to stretch $92 into Christmas gifts for everyone. They also find out what it’s like to talk about finances and FIRE with friends and family, in some cases realizing that others were more enlightened than they had expected. I found all of this authentic and admirable.

While they hit many of the mainstream (fat)FIRE boxes, there’s a bit of a N=1 element in that a lot of their choices were shaped by virtue of the fact that the FIRE documentary was the plan for their 1 year life on the road. They rub elbows with popular FIRE gurus repeatedly as they attend Chautauqua, FinCon and Camp Mustache. The trip to Ecuador seemed a bit over-the-top given the initially dire financial situation but they found it worth every dollar even though all the presenters already give away their advice for free on the internet. Though I’m inclined to roll my eyes at parts like these, I was glad that they said “yes” to things that I would have said “no” to, if only to see how things would turn out.

Jacob gets a very brief mention (name is misspelled :|). Also, though I think the author deserves praise for clarity of prose, the writing style is rather plain and simple compared to regular print nonfiction, but would feel right as a FIRE journal or blog. It should be noted that the book was written during the year author was going through the FIRE journey, while being filmed day and night for the documentary. Oh, and he was also raising a 2-year-old kid. Put into perspective... it is remarkable that the book even exists, and that Scott and Taylor (his wife) are definitely well above the average even neglecting the income dimension.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:48 am
by Fish
It’s been released since May but they’ve crowdsourced the distribution by having their fans contact movie theaters to arrange screenings. 5% of ticket sales is offered as an incentive to organizers. Remaining special screenings with cast in Detroit (July 16), Sydney (Aug 14), Melbourne (Aug 19) and NYC (Aug 29). Details:

Duration is 76 min. The Danish hamsterhjulet documentary was 55 min. Reviews of PWF are generally positive from within the FIRE echo chamber; here’s a link to one of the better ones: ... ry-review/

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 5:47 am
by just
Ally Bank (which is also briefly featured in the documentary) is providing free stream of Playing with Fire on Vimeo: (password is FIRE)

I found out about the deal on the Danish FIRE facebook page. I'm not sure where the deal originates, but Ally appears to be officially affiliated with the documentary, so I think it's a legit way to view it. If anyone knows otherwise, I'll remove the link again.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 9:20 am
by The Old Man
Fish wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:28 am
... they started with an after-tax income of $142,000 and expenses of $120k with a spending goal of $50-60k for their family of 3.
So, FIRE for the upper middle class.

Its not very relatable to those with a median or less income which is 50% of the population.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 9:45 am
by GandK
Thanks for posting this, @just. I watched it.

I found it VERY frustrating. It was probably an editing problem, but damn. All through the movie Wife is having such understandable trouble, trouble we all talk about over and over on this and other ER sites. She's really articulate and relatable about her struggles with the Joneses and with giving things up and not seeing the results of her efforts. I really loved her. 10-15 minutes from the end Husband interviews her and asks her if all they'd done over the year was worth it. "100%, absolutely." And the explanation she gave is that she met people who changed her views. But she doesn't explain what they said, or the effect it had on her mindset. The one thing it would help people most to know! She was so clear and articulate about her struggles, and then when she talked about how she got over them? "Oh, I listened to people." I almost fell off the bed.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 12:10 pm
by Scott 2
Thanks for posting the link. I've wanted to see this for awhile. I enjoy watching other people's story, even if the information isn't groundbreaking.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 3:43 pm
by just
I thought the same. It went very quickly from frustration to happiness at the end of the documentary. I guess the intermezzo at Camp Mustache was supposed to be the revelatory experience that convinced them(?) - if not in reality, then at least as a narrative tool.

I also feel the choice of buying a house as the goal of the journey was, maybe, missing the larger point of FIRE a little bit. But I can also see that they needed a goal that could be reached within the span of filming - it's not really feasible to go through 5-10+ years of accumulation in a documentary.

The documentary is also aimed at people new to FIRE, so I guess I'm not the right person to critique it. If it inspires people to get started, then that's great. I was disappointed that it wasn't in some way deeper.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:28 pm
by bostonimproper
Just watched. The movie makes it feels like the husband basically convinced his wife to completely uproot her life and move away from all their friends for money. Lots of focus on the downs, less so on creating a fulfilling lifestyle for themselves now. If I were new to the concept of FIRE, I don't think this doc would convince me much. I wouldn't want to show this to my less FIRE-minded husband, for instance. Just my 2c.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 2:28 pm
by jacob
@GandK - I think a plausible explanation is that the production ran out of money and had to edit a movie out of what they had so far. I talked to Travis a few times in the spring of 2018 and they also planned to visit Frugalwoods in Vermont for an interview there. We also talked a bit about Scott&Co+crew coming here to ERE HQ. I wasn't so sold on the concept of "'frogmarching' a rookie through the process in just one year" but offered to meet the crew at Frugalwoods, VT or in Dallas, TX which was when (as far as I know) they did the last recording (Ryan Holiday and apparently not Tim Ferris who was also in the plans)... but my offer was declined because of cost. At the time that seemed like a lame excuse but looking at how many people were involved in filming---apparently paid by the hour---during the end credit, it makes more sense. Also a couple of months later they had to run a kickstarter to raise money for the final cut. So overall, I suspect the initial intention was to go for the full 90 minutes.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 2:54 pm
by GandK
@jacob That makes sense. In a hazy way, that's why I guessed editing... I know zip about filmmaking.

I don't think they intended it this way at all, but the way it's cut now, it's basically a very long Camp Mustache commercial. Their life was good but they wanted to save more, they saved more but they had a bad attitude about it, they went to Camp Mustache and their attitude improved... so they got everything they wanted and are rich, good looking and living happily ever after. The end.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 3:14 pm
by Fish
Watched it together with DW... afterward, she was very interested and it started a nice discussion that I hope will continue.

DW also came away with the idea that Camp Mustache was the turning point. Having read the book, I know that not to be the case and had to explain that they went through the generic process of using sacrifice as a pedagogical tool to discover what was truly important to them and design a more efficient lifestyle aligned with their values.

However, one thing the film does well is to capture the thoughts and reactions of the “trailing spouse” who gets dragged along for the ride as the other person pursues their dream of FIRE. Such conflict is the more common reality among FIRE-seekers. It’s unfortunate the film does not accurately portray how the conflict was resolved.

Re: Playing with fire docu

Posted: Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:29 am
by zork97
Watched it today. It's a documentary I would recommend to friends who don't shy away when I mention 50% savings rate. If they then come back with questions and curiosity, I would describe the finer points of the process. This and the Pete Adeney's WDM talk are really good way to test the wheaton level 0 and 1 folks.

yes I am mad that Jacob doesn't get footage in it. :x