Wonga Movie
The movie, “12 Portraits”, premiered on 4 November in the UK capital, London. The release followed the next day. Created with the objective of showing a sliver of modern British society, the movie features a look into the lives of individuals who have borrowed money from the digital finance company, Wonga.

The Idea behind the Movie
According to the director, Gary Tarn, “12 Portraits” explores the passions of 12 individuals with one thing in common: they are all Wonga customers. Apart from a credit at the end, the movie does not mention the company directly. Instead, it features the private lives of real people with no acting involved. They speak about their hobbies, work, family and other things that bring meaning to their lives. Viewers can discover the connection with the digital finance company when visiting openwonga.com. Throughout the production of “12 Portraits,” Tarn retained complete creative freedom and the company only received a copy of the movie once it was completed. He commented that the 30 minute long movie is quite profound.

Starring Real People 
The varied cast includes people that needed financial help for things like emergencies, educational supplements and small business cash flow. Deborah, a single mum, wanted to set up a franchise that offers haircuts to children in nursery schools and Lee, who runs his own cleaning firm, needed to cover travel costs to an important meeting that brought him a new contract. The stars of “12 Portraits” are all ordinary people living ordinary lives.
The movie can be watched online at openwonga.com where brief biographies of the customers are also available for perusal. Additionally, it will be screened in over 500 cinemas and partially televised on two television channels in the UK: Film 4 and Channel 4.

Wonga Stories
The respected and well-known British filmmaker, Gary Tarn, is spending his time behind the scenes at Wonga, the short-term lending company. He is in the process of making a film about British society today through the lens of the digital finance company's customers. His aim is to film an accurate representation of Wonga’s customers. As much as Wonga is in the news, the story of many of its borrowers - the 'silent majority' - has not yet been told. The twelve customers who stories will be told have volunteered to participate in the documentary. 

Tarn Tells Their Tale

Tarn is probably best known for his award winning film Black Sun, which is a documentary of the blind author named Hugues de Montalembert. People also remember him for The Prophet, which Thandie Newton, a UK actress, narrated. In this new documentary, 12 Portraits, Tarn gets into the lives of twelve Wonga customers to share and bring to the light a few of their experiences. The volunteer customers are not being remunerated and there is no script for them to read as they tell their tale. He will lead the viewer into their lives as they share why they took a short-term loan from Wonga and how it impacted them. Tarn, who has full creative control over the entire direction of the film, sees this is an important project that will accurately reflect modern Britain. He began filming 12 Portraits in July of this year and expects to finish by December.

Hearing the Silent Majority

In commenting on the film, Niall Wass, who serves as COO of Wonga, said that everyone hears the loud voices of the critics, but the majority of their clients, who are silent, should be heard as well. In fact, 90% of those on their million plus customer list would be willing to recommend the short term loan company to their families and friends.

Following the first public release of Wonga’s annual accounts, CEO Errol Damelin explained that the company’s almost 1 million customers represented only a third of those who actually applied for short term loans. As a responsible lender, Wonga only lends to people who can afford to borrow and therefore turns down many first time loan applicants. Most of Wonga’s customers, whom Damelin dubbed the “Facebook generation,” use Wonga to provide a short term fix, rather than having to pay unauthorised overdraft charges. 

Damelin explained that Wonga serves customers who want to take out a loan and know that they can repay it in three days, in just the same way they want to buy an item on iTunes.

Wonga’s annual accounts for 2012 showed that company lending increased by 68 percent, with the number of UK loans reaching nearly 4 million.

James Quinn, Financial Editor of the Daily Telegraph, 03 Sep 2013
Facebook Generation
Image courtesy of Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Wonga’s initial site gained immediate interest. The first transaction was made within 10 minutes of their virtual doors opening. This was when Errol Damelin, the proprietor of Wonga realised that he was on to a winner.
Operating from an office in London, the entrepreneur was providing a solution to a problem that individuals were actively searching for. Within a year, solutions to the value of over £20 million changed hands and after 18 months Wonga conducted over a million transactions. Over 90% of their customers are satisfied with wonga.com and they have no lack of investors eager to be part of this exciting venture.
Continue reading: Wired.co.uk by William Shaw