In addition to the nuances of an intricate relationship, Netflix’s ‘Fair Play’ offers a brutally honest look at the work culture at the hedge fund firms by depicting protagonists Emily and Luke’s work lives. Both of them work at a cutthroat firm named One Crest Capital, where employees are treated without any human consideration. To survive at the firm, one needs to immerse oneself in the games of numbers and investment without prioritizing their personal life. Since the majority of the film takes place inside One Crest, the viewers must be eager to find out whether the New York City firm really exists. Well, let us provide the answer!
Is One Crest Capital Based on a Real Hedge Fund Firm?
One Crest Capital is not based on a real firm. Having said that, director and screenwriter Chloe Domont conceived the scenes set in the fictional firm with utmost authenticity, making her film a mirror that reflects what really happens in real-life hedge fund firms. The work culture at One Crest has unignorable similarities with several investment companies that really exist. The adjustments and compromises that dictate Emily’s career can be paralleled to the real experiences of several employees who worked or currently work at prominent hedge fund firms in the country, making One Crest a fictional representative of the same.
In the film, Emily even has to compromise her sleep to work for Campbell, which is a common occurrence in the lives of employees working at hedge fund firms. In 2013, the death of Bank of America Merrill Lynch (presently known as BofA Securities) intern Moritz Erhardt exposed the night-work culture at investment firms. As per reports, Erhardt collapsed and died after working until 6 AM three days in a row. Erhardt’s experience wasn’t an exception. The work culture at similar firms hadn’t been drastically different, according to Andre Spicer, who worked as a professor at Cass Business School at the time.
“The real reasons are cultural. All-nighters are seen as a rite of passage. They show an intern is willing to push themselves beyond any reasonable limits at work… if large firms hope to be sustainable and attractive to employees, they need to tackle the extreme hours culture,” Spicer told CNN. There are several workers in the investment banking industry who share a similar experience. “I would get ulcers from not enough sleep I worked for months where Monday to Thursday I would not have left the office before midnight,” a former analyst at a bulge bracket investment bank told Izzie Price for The Gentleman’s Journal.
The Misogynistic Arena
Campbell, the boss at One Crest, is portrayed as a potential predator as Luke worries that he might have taken advantage of his position after forming a professional bond with Emily. Campbell also calls Emily a “dumb fucking bitch” when one of her investments results in a loss. Such a hostile environment exists in reality as well. In June 2023, The Financial Times released an investigative report, which alleged that British hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, the founder of Odey Asset Management, sexually harassed or assaulted thirteen women in twenty-five years. Odey’s case is not an exception either.
In 2017, STATNews published a report alleging that Sam Isaly of investing giant OrbiMed Advisors had “perpetuated a toxic culture of sexual harassment” for years, “routinely subjecting young female assistants to pornography in the workplace, lewd jokes, and pervasive sexist comments.” The report revealed that four women repeatedly complained about his behavior to senior executives at the company, only to get sympathy without any action taken against him. “I’m scarred. I still have anxiety from that job — now, years later,” Delilah Burke, Isaly’s assistant for around 18 months in 2009, told STAT, as per the same report.
The aforementioned reports make it clear that the toxic and misogynistic work culture present in One Crest is not entirely fictional. Although Domont’s film explores a misogynistic hedge fund firm, the inspiration behind the same is not really an investment company.
Domont’s experience as a writer’s assistant and the only woman in an otherwise all-male writer’s room of a television series inspired her to conceive Emily’s male-dominated firm. “You’re treated like one of the boys. And so you’ve got to act like one of the boys. And if you don’t act like one of the boys, there’s a risk that you lose your seat at the table. It never rose to the level of sexual harassment. It was more like: ‘Are you tough?’ It’s a little more hazing. Like, you’re a guy,” the filmmaker told IndieWire. Domont’s experience can be paralleled with Emily’s efforts to gel with her superiors at One Crest.