This is a Business. Movie Review by Ester Molayeme.
Following the Village International D-Cinema Festival in Portugal, This Is A Business premiered in the US, at the Dances With Films Festival July 21, 2006, in the Competition Features category.
Turtletaub (Nathan Nolan), a shipping clerk with loftier dreams, starts his own business, knowing only that he intends either to create a product or to provide a service, and whichever one it is, he pledges, it will be good... for everyone.
To help him on his quest, Turtletaub hires an awkward, kind day laborer Ernesto (Henry Vega) as his assistant and a confident yet conflicted salesman Baltimore (Rick Schiaffo) as his sales force. Now all they need is to figure out what it is that this business will do. But there is constant noise streaming in through the vent in the ceiling, and the landlord keeps giving Turtletaub the runaround, and his salesman has somehow started bringing in money for this business that, well, doesn't have a business.
As the pressure builds and things start to move, Turtletaub seems farther and farther away from having his idea. Until one night, it hits... and it's great!
This Is A Business is Nathan Nolan’s first lead in a feature film following his appearances in several British productions such as Life During Wartime, Grapes of Wrath, Torch Song Trilogy, Little Women, Jamaica, and Calcium Kid.
Nathan’s role of Turtletaub is reflective of a man who shows that “even the smallest act of generosity can have far reaching effect.”
Baltimore, however, is a man who lived his life in quiet desperation for a long time”, explains Rick Schiaffo, “until he met some people he felt he could trust, and learned to ask for help.”
Some may have seen Rick in the role of a principal in Paul Tarantino’s Headhunter and in his performance on stage at Theater of NOTE, as well as in All My Children, New York Undercover, and the feature film Senior Week.
Rick always shares something with the character he plays, though, he admits, “you won’t find me bursting at the seams and rattling off strange phrases, although it’s probably very therapeutic.”
He further adds, “If there is a message, I think it would be to strive for forthrightness with yourself and others and also, not to be afraid to ask for help.”
Henry Vega, in the role of Ernesto, displays a caring relationship with the people he meets, as well as honesty and courage. He has a “commitment and devotion to his family”, explains Henry, “this strong family bond has given Ernesto an identity and strength”.
Henry’s film credits include the AFI film Latino, Maestro in Kitchen Help, Barrio Park, and Stranger Among Us, as well as appearances in rock music videos for Kid Creole, the Coconuts, Elbow Bones and the Racketeers.
As Turtletaub’s wife, Clementine (Liz Maccie), “has a purity of desire and dreams, just as Turtletaub does”. She aspires to be “the best and highest paid gift wrapper in all of America!” explains Liz, “throughout the movie, Clementine and Turtletaub actually reflect each other’s journey, more often than not, to see their heart’s desires come true.”
Liz’s role projects the age-old adage “dare to dream”. “It doesn’t matter what our individual pursuits are”, explains Liz, “what matters is that we give ourselves a pursuit to have and to hold dear. The journey towards that dream truly gives us purpose and makes us exist in the world. Dream and dream big.”
This Is A Business, “hits a cord of truth that we can all respond to” adds Liz, demonstrating “the power of attention, determination, and intent. In the end, the biggest return on any investment is one that concretely affects another human being.”
Co-written by Tom and Daniel L. Stern, the movie stems from “our desire to make a movie that we thought representative of our take on filmic storytelling” says Tom, who was inspired by filmmakers such as “Hal Hartley, Woody Allen, and Errol Morris.”
Aside from directing This Is A Business, Tom has also written and directed six short films and a handful of plays. His short films Blue Me and The Autobiography of Tom Stern Chapter Six: The New Science) have been programmed in festivals on both coasts (Imagefest, LA Shorts) and his stage production of Feiffer’s People was performed at The International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In This Is A Business “I wanted to try to tell a human story” says Tom, about a man who desires “to make something meaningful in his life” reflecting also “the surprising toils and difficulties concomitant with truly loving and committing to something”.
Besides co-writing This Is A Business, Daniel L. Stern has achieved noted recognition in the field of screenwriting. His script The Rebound Guy finished in the Top 4 of Project Greenlight 2 (a contest sponsored by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) and The Book of Jacob was a 2003 Sundance Screenwriting Lab Finalist.
Presented in a parallel fashion and economized script, the picture’s strength is in the clarity of expression displayed by the quirky but very sympathetic characters, funny even without uttering words.
This Is A Business creates in the viewer a sense of endearment towards each persona. It is the kind of movie that grows on you, leaving you smiling.