Produced by Jason Stefaniak and written and directed by Ryan Carmichael, the Impolite Company duo, But Not For Me is an instantly relatable semi-autobiographical-music-esque-boy-tries-to-make-ends-meet-working-to-live-out-his-dream-in-a-big-city-while-simultaneously-falling-in-love, story. At its heart are the essential trials and tribulations of wanting to dream big in a system ridden with capitalism, competition and risk. In telling its story, BNFM hits home for any young, working-class American who has once dreamed big while trying to actualize their dreams in a world pinned against them.
Leading the film is Will (Marcus Carl Franklin), a young, gregarious and creative writer who seeks artistic expression in a job as dry as copywriting (sorry copywriting enthusiasts). However, in pursuing his dreams, he still struggles financially. Luckily, divine intervention steps in and Will’s outlet for creative expression finds a platform when he meets his next-door neighbor, Hope (Elena Urioste), a talented violinist. After meeting, the two quickly take their shot at busking with an unorthodox marriage of classical violin and rap/spoken word.
Without fail, this film does have a romantic plot. But, Will’s undeniable chase for Hope ultimately falls short. Rather, Will learns the lessons that come with unrequited love. In them, he is able to channel his excitement and passionate drive for intellectual pursuits within an often mundane and uninspired society.
Where we find these pitfalls, BNFM seeks to discuss the role that capitalism and greed play in trying to realize one’s dreams. One of the duo’s songs, “Evils,” hints at this, with Will documenting his struggles with the capitalist mentality, grit, and grind of New York City. His conviction and idealistic vision shows when talking about the ills and cynicism embedded in the hypocrisy of the advertising industry and corporate America at large. In a way, the songs are a reflection of Will himself — his bold personality shines through his lyrics.
While its themes speak of grim truths that the everyday American society faces, BNFM’s tone and style is far from it. Using Will as a narrator, director Ryan Carmichael brings an interesting contextual lens to the film, weaving a story within a story. This often presents as humor embedded in Will’s monologues, making the story even more worth watching.
Marcus Carl Franklin is a wonderfully young seasoned actor. His performance proves his ability to truly capture the elements that make his roles as narrator and protagonist distinct, yet powerful. Alongside him, Elena Urioste, also has her own shining moments. As Will’s voice of reason, she often brings a magical element to the film. In addition to their chemistry as actors, they also make for a great musical pair in the film.
BNFM has many layers — from chasing dreams to unrequited love to a stubborn determination to keep pursuing one’s passion and dreams despite the obstacles. If anything, I think that makes it a relatable film. Which, at its core is probably one of its major success (queue *DJ Khaled voice*) too, as a story and a film.
If you’re in NYC, hit up the NewFilmmakers New York 2016 Winter Screening Series and Queens World Film Festival both premiering in March.
Giselle is a NYC bred writer, fascinated with the Bay Area vibes. She is a thinker and artist in all of the word’s meaning. Frequently journaling and poetry-ing, she loves to engage with feelings and rants (sometimes) that discuss discomfort and being unapologetic. Her corny, self-proclaiming sense of humor gives her an edge above the rest; especially at 5’3’, she could use all the support she can get (get it, teheehee). It may come out in her writing, it may not, stay tuned. @_gigithatsme