SPOILER ALERT: This story contains major spoilers for ‘Dumb Money‘
Director Craig Gillespie knew he wanted Anthony Ramos to dance in “Dumb Money” but he wasn’t quite sure how it would work. He turned to screenwriters Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo, who came up with a sequence where Ramos’ Marcus, a GameStop cashier, would do a TikTok dance to Megan Thee Stallion’s 2020 hit “Savage,” sung by Yodie Summers.
The film follows a group of amateur stock traders who take on the titans of Wall Street at the height of the pandemic in 2021. Paul Dano plays Keith Gill, a.k.a Roaring Kitty, the family man who follows stock for a hobby and gains a huge following. Seth Rogen is the hedge fund manager Gabe Plotkin, who hears about the inexplicable sudden rise in GameStop shares and aims to get to the bottom of it.
Gillespie wanted to use social media to punctuate his storytelling, so the TikTok dance with Ramos was ideal. It comes towards the end of the film as he quits his job.
But there was one additional sequence during the end credits where Ramos and Dane DeHaan (Brad) who plays his boss recreate the “Savage” dance together. Editor Kirk Baxter reveals, “There was a video we did of Anthony teaching him the dance, and it was hilarious. I tried so many ways to get it into the end credits, but it dictated using the song for a third time.” He adds, “It was so painful not to use it.”
One is a TikTok sequence explaining the GameStop stock story and what happens. Baxter explains, “There were at least 25 iterations of that montage. There were three or four scenes that we ended up removing because they were all individual pieces in addition to the montage.” The reasoning to trim it. “When there’s too much pumped into it, it was interrupting our characters,” he says.
As “Dumb Money” arrives at its ending, Plotkin, Kenneth Griffin (Nick Offerman), and Gill as well as the RobinHood CEO Vlad Tenev (Sebastian Stan) face a congressional hearing. The scene includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grilling them.
Baxter says, “Lauren and Rebecca wrote that scene intending to use the real footage. They didn’t want to recreate it.”
Gillespie also wanted the scene to feel as real as possible and have the cast interact with what footage existed. Baxter says, “The interactions were a lot longer. Instead of having one or two beats with each character, they were each a three-course meal.”
Baxter ultimately reduced the scene and went back to finding the jokes that worked the best and the ones that landed the hardest, keeping in tune with the emotion of film.
And that was his approach to many scenes.
Another scene early in the film that tracks how the stock movement impacted college kids was much longer. Baxter trimmed it to keep the film leaning forward and maintaining a sense of tension and comedy. He says, “They had a drinking game every time Roaring Kitty says ‘Game Stop.’ I built it out and it was fun, but overall it took away from the stakes and made it sillier.”