Inside 'Industry': The HBO Creators on the Inspirations Behind the Show

The makers of the propulsive banking drama choose their favourites, from "Peep Show" and "Girls" to "Heat".
Alex Alomar Akpobome, Myha’la Herrold, Harry Lawtey in HBO TV show Industry
Photo: Simon Ridgway/HBO

The BBC/HBO British-American banking drama Industry is midway through its second season. Created by ex-bankers Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, the show follows a group of twenty-somethings who work in high finance, battling it out in the city as they navigate career, life and relationships. 

Best described as "the missing link between Succession and Euphoria” it’s also easily the most explicit and debauched show ever to air on the BBC. 


Down and Kay, the show’s creators, writers and executive producers have provided us with an exceptional list of their favourite film and TV inspirations, ranging from Mark Corrigan to Patrick Bateman.

Deeper into Movies

Moneyball (2011), directed by Bennett Miller 

Bradd Pitt in his Redford era. Phillip Seymour Hoffman in baseball clobber. Jonah Hill clenching his fist. Beautiful, even-handed exposition (which we maybe should have copied more in Industry!). Great scene follows great scene. We think of the scouts around the table whenever we think of a morning meeting in Industry: the right faces, talking with expertise. We have a shorthand for when we think a scene of our show is looking good on camera. “Bennett Miller?” one of us will say and the other will nod and reply, simply: “Bennett Miller.”  

American Psycho (2000), directed by Mary Harron

Mary Harron’s fantastic adaptation of what should be a very tricky book to bring to screen, she ekes all the comedy out of every moment. The attention to detail in the texture, from nightclubs to high-end restaurants to the famous business card dick-measuring contest and morning facial routine are all things we tried to bring to the show.

While Industry doesn’t have such an obviously satirical edge, we think some of its crazier, more perverse bombast has similar DNA to this adaptation. We spent time carefully designing the Pierpoint business cards in tribute. 


Peep Show (2003-2010), created by Andrew O'Connor, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain

A decade before we wrote Industry we were college kids sitting around, talking shit and watching hours and hours and hours of Peep Show on repeat. We even got to work with the legendary Matt King on our first micro-budget feature. The niche jokes, the oblique cultural references, the cynical humour, the moments of pathos - all things we tried to bring to our show.  We are huge Office (UK) heads and Fawlty Towers scripts are masterclasses of writing, but line for line Peep Show is the funniest British comedy of all time. 

Uncut Gems (2019), directed by Josh & Benny Safdie

Film-making as a sustained panic attack is very much Industry’s shit. Nobody in the world is better than the Safdies in terms of sense of people and place. It’s like fictional vérité (if you can have such a thing) and we wanted some of that almost documentarian feel to our show. Nobody in the world is better at kinetic style which manages to be totally immersive and roving but also totally unpretentious and self-effacing.

The shadows, the blacks, the saturation - we can’t think of a film that’s looked this wildly colourful yet lived-in and real, since Thief. It’s the antidote to the muddy look that makes up so much modern TV and film. Our credo in the grade is: Let’s up the grain, let’s crush the blacks, let’s make those Bloomberg monitors pop!


 James White (2015), directed by Josh Mond

Sequences from this also featured in our sizzle reel for the show. Some great filmmaking. The clubbing sequence where the lead steps out into piercing morning daylight (shudder) and the acid trip, are scenes we constantly reference when making our show. Chris Abbott feels like young De Niro. If you’ve not seen it, it's worth a look. 

Halt and Catch Fire (2014–2017), created by Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers

If we put to the side the inviolable rule that anything that contains Lee Pace is the Greatest Thing in Any Visual Medium Ever for a second, this show is also a terrific workplace drama set at a fascinating time. Good TV. We love all the PC revolution stuff but the show’s centrepiece is the friendship and work relationship of Donna and Cameron: their competitiveness, their support for each other, their tireless desire to build something together and change the face of an industry. In Industry we’re equally interested in that intersection of colleague and friend and its many tensions. 

Kids (1995), directed by Larry Clark 

Larry Clark’s Kids loses none of its power with age. We love how unashamedly provocative and raw it is. It sands no edges off, the camera never turns away. We wanted as much of that frank provocation and truth in Industry as we could get. We used a lot of the indelible sex scenes from this movie in a sizzle reel when we were trying to sell the show. 


Heat (1995), directed by Michal Mann

You really want to hear two heterosexual men drone on about the merits of Heat? Nah, didn’t think so. Suffice to say Mann is a research-led storyteller, obsessed with process, who realises that if you learn about something and dramatise the micro-details you get moments of cinematic ecstasy which far outweigh anything you could make up with imagination alone. We’re equally keen on the research and detail for our show - eg. the jargon and the trading sequences. We find the truth of it thrilling. “The action is the juice” is also a great mantra for being on set. 

‘The Social Network’ (2010), directed by David Fincher

More Sorkin. Dialogue as competition, dialogue as status, dialogue as action sequence, dialogue as war. The fast-talking, talky script is very much what we try to achieve with Industry, as is the idea of a talented anti-hero with fire in their gut. Superb Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor score which gives the whole thing a propulsion which makes it hard to turn off. Luckily, we had the equally talented Nathan Micay to give us that drive. 

‘Mad Men’ (2007-2015), created by Matthew Weiner

The greatest workplace drama of all time. The greatest workplace comedy of all time. What more do you want? Each episode is its own perfect unit of storytelling. Many favourite episodes but the end of “Signal 30”, with Pete emasculated in Driver’s Ed, Ken’s short story in voiceover, the leaking faucet - feels very close to John Cheever or Tobias Wolff. When you make TV you imagine you’re making The Sopranos or Mad Men. You fall well short. Then – you try again. 


‘Girls’ (2011 - 2017), created by Lena Dunham

This show rewrote the rule book in terms of the maturity and frankness with which young lives could be showcased on TV. Industry doesn’t exist without the trail Lena and her collaborators blazed. The writing and direction are consistently first rate. 

‘Michael Clayton’ (2007), directed by Tony Gilroy

A perfect script. Best screenwriting lesson you can get is reading it again and again. Corporate intrigue and competing agendas and working any and all angles to be in the ascendancy - that’s Industry, baby!  

Catch season two of Industry on HBO and BBC Two now.