Startup.com (2001)
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Review Date: May 14, 2001
Director: Jehane Noujaim, Chris Hegedus
Producers: D. A. Pennebaker
None (documentary)
A documentary that follows the ups and downs of an Internet company starting up during the whole Wall Street "Net revolution" phase all the way through to its inevitable crash and burn.
I think that it's pretty hard to review a documentary objectively because a big part of anyone's appreciation of it generally stems from one's own interest in the topic at hand. I mean, sure, the actual production value of the film has to hold up and there does need to be cohesion and structure, a certain sense of development in the story, characters and such, but with everything else hunky-dory, the main ingredient of any documentary's success will inevitably come from the viewer's own personal interest in the subject matter at hand. Now it goes without saying that the subject matter of this film is ideally made for someone like myself. I too started my little dinky Internet site (JoBlo.com) a few years ago, and despite the lack of suits, money or investors, I certainly was able to identify with almost every aspect of this film, especially when it came down to the personal relationships. You see, running this site takes a lot out of me! Juggling a social life, a girlfriend, your friends, your career and your enterprise (which is on my mind pretty much 24/7) can certainly be an extremely daunting task, and I will freely admit that much like the men in this film, I still haven't been able to successfully manage them all at the same time.

Sure, the site has grown tremendously since its inception and continues to do so every day, but with the Internet market in the dumps as it has been of late, the ability to generate the required funds needed to maintain such the site (and business) has become almost entirely impossible. Add that to the fact that I wasn't able to keep my relationship going because of my inability to properly balance everything in my life, or develop my social life and I can really see where the boys in this film are coming from. Is your career more important than your own life? Are your friends more important than the bottom line? Do you have the skills needed to disperse all of your energies evenly across the board? Sometimes we all lose touch of the most important things in our lives, and even though I do essentially run most of this site on my own, I do work very closely with one of my best friends, Arrow, and when times are tough, it does get difficult to balance "business" and "friendship". Having said that, we've thankfully been able to handle all of the pressures so far, and probably made our friendship even stronger through the process (a couple of beers every now and then doesn't hurt either). In fact, managing to keep your friendship and personal relationships intact throughout your professional endeavors is key in anyone's life and if there's one thing that this film does, is to show this very fact. It also gives you a solid "behind-the-scenes" peek at any new company's trials and tribulations when starting up. Like I said earlier, I was pretty much glued to the screen throughout this entire movie, and sadly recognized one too many moments of myself in it, but as a whole, the film managed to tell a good story, present some real people in real situations and give you a little bit of insight into the crazy world that was the "Internet boom" (Or are we still in its development stages? Who knows!)

Now I know that this "review" probably doesn't sound so much like a review than it does just a "cleansing experience" for myself, but I just couldn't help but relate to this film in that personal matter, and really felt no need to hide it from any of you. I mean, this is the business that I've chosen to devote my own life to at this point in time and it was extremely interesting to see the development of a couple of other guys (each of whom I could relate to at some juncture or another) going through many of the same things that I went through (yes, I actually turned down a pretty sweet offer for JoBlo.com as well-thank God!) but on a much larger scale. Even more interesting is the fact that despite their website not working out as they would have liked, my electronic journey continues and God knows what the next few years have in store for us. Maybe a sequel? JoBlo.com: The man, The myth...The bankruptcy! Hehehehe...hopefully not...
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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