There is a certain type of documentary film that draws me in. However I may enjoy the big budget productions like Life , Planet Earth or Chimpanzee, it’s the smaller films that I like so much that I’ve watched some more than once.
The films like King of Kong, Indie Game, The Atom Smashers and Beyond the Fold some of which I’ve reviewed here previously (some I still have to write up) are the perfect blend of a clear cinematic vision and a voyeuristic journey into the lives of people who may be similar to me – or at least appeal to a part of me that I don’t get to explore often; The obsessive drive of Steve Wiebe in King of Kong, the exploration of an isolated facet of science like the Atom Smashers and the desire to dive into technology and make something novel and entirely one’s own like Jonathan Blow in Indie Game.
Indie Game went deeper with me because I also have aspirations to build games – games that are educational enough to be worthy of the classroom and fun enough that no one needs to be told to play them. (Here’s where I would normally link to DownhouseSoftware.com, but I’ve managed to let my domain expire and I’m currently working to renew it and rebuild the website.)
The latest of this bunch of documentaries is StartUp.Com (I think the camel-case type is my own, but it’s the way i should be done). StartUp follows the lives of a pair of friends who built a dotcom in the midst of the tech boom. …shhhhh, they don’t know yet that their efforts are doomed….
The friends, Tom and Kaliel went to high school together and show an extraordinarily strong bond throughout the film. Tom is the software developer looking for a place to park his talent and Kaliel is from the financial world and takes over as CEO of the venture.
What soon becomes apparent is that Tom sees this company as his baby and just wants the best for it, but isn’t financially savvy enough to put in front of venture capitalists. Kaliel is an ego maniac who thinks the sun shines out of his ass. Both of them are workaholics, and they really do complement well, but it becomes increasingly clear that Kaliel really has only Kaliel’s interests in mind and Tom is never going to be willing to let go of the reigns sufficiently for his partner to be satisfied.
The arc of the story works well. The DotCom crash comes just in time to pull all their success back down the drain (come on! is that really a spoiler?) to give the film a perfect beginning, middle and end. It couldn’t have been written more perfectly as fiction and I suspect that it’s probably the reason this film was actually every made and released.
If you’ve ever dreamed of running a startup, this might be something to watch. If not, you probably just won’t care enough to follow it all the way through.
IMDB gives Startup a 6.9/10, Rotten Tomatoes gives it 92%. Really? I’m calling it an enjoyable 6. The film-makers got lucks that the crash came just in time to give them a solid ending and if I had to look at Kaliel’s shit-eating grin any longer I’d vomit.