Empowering the Freelance Economy

What freelancers can learn from “Blackberry”

Blackberry film is a comedic documentary style film about the rise and fall of the Blackberry smartphone. Image source: Fetch.fm
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Cracking the Code: A freelancer’s review of the film “BlackBerry”

“BlackBerry”, the comedic mockumentary film about the rise and fall of the iconic smartphone, isn’t just a tech and startup history lesson. It’s a story packed with lessons for any freelancer navigating the ever-changing tides of business and innovation. We dissect the film through a freelancer’s lens.

It’s a reminder that the tools we build as freelancers don’t exist in a vacuum; they shape and are shaped by the world around us.

The film portrays the contrasting leadership styles of co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis (played by Jay Baruchel) and Jim Balsillie (portrayed by Glenn Howerton). Adapted from the non-fiction book “Losing the Signal” by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, the film sheds light on a pivotal era in mobile technology.

While Lazaridis remains tight-lipped about the portrayal, Balsillie offered a nuanced perspective to the Toronto Star. He acknowledges the film’s depiction of him as a competitive, ambitious businessman, but clarifies:

Although Lazaridis had had little about the film, Balsillie told the Toronto Star he was initially confused when he first started watching the film until it dawned on him that the film was a “satire”. He said in the Toronto Star interview: “They’re taking an element of truth, who I am, and they’re playing with it.”

The Good Stuff

Real talk: Forget the sugar-coated Silicon Valley narratives. This film throws you into the trenches with the scrappy team that birthed the BlackBerry smartphone. You’ll feel the late-night coding sweats, the thrill of a game-changing idea, and the sting of missed opportunities. It’s a refreshingly honest portrayal of the rollercoaster ride that is innovation, reminding us that success is rarely linear.

Freelancer power: While the film focuses on the bigwigs, it doesn’t forget the unsung heroes – the designers, engineers, and marketers who brought the BlackBerry to life. This is a story about hustle, about individuals taking ownership and pushing boundaries, something every freelancer can relate to.

Beyond the buzz: The film delves into the social and cultural impact of the BlackBerry, exploring its role in communication, productivity, and even politics. It’s a reminder that the tools we build as freelancers don’t exist in a vacuum; they shape and are shaped by the world around us.


“BlackBerry” is a MoneyBro movie par excellence, right up there with “Wall Street,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Boiler Room,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

It shares their key, defining trait: even though its main characters are either charismatic sociopaths or sheep, and the capitalist system they operate in is deeply corrupt and rewards men without morals or conscience, the story is so excitingly told, the performances so watchable, and the dialogue so quotable that it becomes the verbal equivalent of an action flick—kinetic, suspenseful, and sometimes unexpectedly beautiful and weirdly moving. 

Roger Ebert, film critic

The Not-So-Good Stuff

Mockumentary mayhem: The film’s mockumentary style can be jarring at times, with shaky camerawork and awkward interviews. While it adds a frenetic energy, it can get on your nerves and seem staged.

Technical jargon: For IT contractors, you may feel like you are going down memory lane. However, some scenes dive deep into the technical aspects of building a phone, which might leave non-techy glazing over or pausing the film to look up terms on Google.

The fall from grace: The film’s second half focuses heavily on BlackBerry’s decline, which can be a bit of a downer. It’s important but prepare for some bittersweet reflection on missed opportunities.

The Verdict

“BlackBerry” is a must-watch for any freelancer. It’s a cautionary tale about the perils of complacency, a celebration of individual grit, and a reminder that even in the ever-changing world of tech, passion and hard work can still make a difference. Just don’t expect a feel-good ending. This is a film that makes you think, question, and maybe take the next step on that business idea you’ve put on the back burner with renewed vigour.

More about the film Blackberry

The backstory of Blackberry

Cast and crew of Blackberry

Director of Blackberry

Losing the Signal: the book that inspired the film Blackberry

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