With Interest Image

With Interest

By Alan Ng | July 20, 2020

Whether you like it or not, making movies is expensive, and the hunt for money is a necessary evil. Short films are great as a proof of concept when fishing for green. Aaron Dominguez’s With Interest…faults and all…does a pretty good job selling its overall potential as a big feature.

With Interest centers on a small-time “debt collector,” Joey (Anis Maknojia), who has reached an existential crisis in his young career. While on the job, he realizes his work is mediocre, though effective. The small mistakes he’s made recently have had real-life consequences that he can’t regionalize ending in being needlessly beaten and killing the wrong person. Oops!

As a result of these failures, he’s hired two older thugs for protection and taken up an interest in stand-up comedy as a potential new career. With Interest is a story of the retiring mobster looking to get out of the business. As they say, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

After watching Dominguez’s short film, I’m definitely interested in seeing the bigger feature—mostly because the story has potential. Honestly, though when creating a “pilot,” you want your audience to be dying to see it, so they throw their money at you. With With Interest the keyword is “potential.”

“…he realizes his work is mediocre, though effective. The small mistakes he’s made recently have had real-life consequences…”

I’ll start positively by saying, I like the direction of the overall story. The retiring mobster story is not new. I think Dominguez has a fresh take with a comedy bent. The set up of Joey at a crossroads is right and making him a not-so-perfect hitman is brilliant. His rival, Carlito (Aaron Dominguez), makes a great foil as a cocky, over-confident foil to Joey. The two bosses, Sofia and Tango, need more work, though, as they fall into stereotypes.

Fortunately, because With Interest aspires for higher heights, we see its flaws and know instantly what needs to be fixed. The short’s most serious flaw is the acting. Except for Maknojia, every other actor comes off sounding scripted, meaning they all look like their reciting lines off a script versus sounding organic to the character. The dialogue doesn’t sound natural as its cadence is consistently off. No one talks like that. Again, this can all be fixed with extensive rehearsals and acting lessons.

Also, I think the overall visual style and tone is almost there…maybe 80%. I think visually the film could use a little more help. The music and story-telling style are pretty close, if not already there. The film reminds me of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven. The good news it’s headed in the right direction, writer/director Dominguez knows what he wants and needs a little help to get there. Everything is fixable at this stage. Now is the time to put together a team that can execute and elevate his vision. Lastly, I would be sure to hire some comedy writers to make sure Joey’s stand-up routine…whether he’s meant to be good or bad stand-up…pays off at the end. Getting this wrong could kill the entire film.

Movies have so many moving pieces competing with one another. Knowing what needs work and what elements are close to perfection is the key to great filmmaking. With Interest is a film with great potential as with some workable solutions, it can make a fantastic feature film.

With Interest (2020)

Directed and Written: Aaron Dominguez

Starring: Anis Maknojia, Aaron Dominguez, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

With Interest Image

"…making him a not-so-perfect hitman is brilliant."

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