‘Startup.com’ may be a documentary, but not in the National Geographic ‘this is how tiger’s mate’ style of film.
Instead, it has a strong story-like, voyeuristic feel. More than just the life of an Internet business, the film focuses on the co-founders’ personal lives and the lifestyle the e-commerce imposes on them.
It takes the how-to of creating and maintaining an Internet business and adds two actual people’s stories, making the documentary more engaging.
The characters add a certain realistic and human flavor to the film, making what could be a tedious collection of facts much more interesting.
The viewer still learns about the world of e-business as co-founders Tom Herman and Kaleil Isaza Tuzman try to create and maintain govworks.com, a Web site meant to allow citizens to pay fines like parking tickets online.
As Herman and Tuzman scramble for financial backing, they struggle to create an effective and innovative service and attempt to fend off dangerous competitors.
And the pair’s troubles don’t stop there. After a long day at the office, Herman struggles to keep his energetic and very distracted 5-year-old in his lap long enough to brush her hair into presentable ponytails.
Tuzman tries to deal with a girlfriend who demands either a puppy or a baby when he wants neither.
And they both attempt to maintain a friendship that started when they were 15 and is now challenged everyday by their conflicting professional and personal spheres. Eventually the pair find success on their own terms.
The mix of the entrepreneurial and the personal is interesting, but the film is far from perfect. Throughout the film, the hand-held camera switches focus amateur-style, swooshing from one subject to the next.
After just 10 minutes, you’ll begin to wish the editor had spent more time making cuts.
And after about an hour, you might get a headache and feel slightly sick.
The goal is good, but the cinematography could stand to be a great deal smoother. The camera work becomes distracting; it could have achieved the same authentic feel with more editing.
But ultimately the film is not eye candy. Focusing on Herman and Tuzman’s story rather than the film’s technical prowess, ‘Startup.com’ insists on rising above the techno-babble.