Short of the Week: The Business Trip

By Francesco Zenati

Originally a fashion photographer, Sean Ellis has worked for magazines such as iD and Vogue. He then began directing commercials for the likes of Jean Paul Gautier and Nike.  The photographer made his first serious venture into filmmaking with his short film, “Cashback.”  Upon winning an Oscar for Best Short Film, Live Action, Ellis decided to expand the short into a feature which was completed two years later.  Ellis belongs to a growing group of fashion photographers turned filmmakers including Asa Mader and Glen Luchford.

On the surface, Ellis’s short film, “The Business Trip,” feels very light, ostensible, and superficially comical.  However, there is an interesting narrative about relationships that pervades the conclusion.  While Clement is calling the prostitute, one questions the nature of his relationship.  Clement seems to examine the possibility of being in a relationship with every woman he sees: the first woman he awkwardly bumps into, the receptionist, the prostitute.  The first image of the first woman is of her legs, indicating Clement’s sexual attraction to her.  Soon thereafter, he spends several seconds staring at the receptionist’s eyes (this amounts to about five percent of the film).  He tells (who he thinks is) the prostitute that he “misses cuddling.”  Clement doesn’t seem to be too picky, but he hates being alone.  Clement is not whole as a person: he needs the support of a woman.  But there isn’t one woman that can support him: there are many.

The film also seems to be criticizing the nature of change.  Clement is punished when he tries to change to be more “spontaneous” by the embarrassment of making his proposal to the wrong woman.  Clement’s fate is to be this tragic character.  His attempts to change this fate only affirm it.

Francesco Zenati is a staff writer. Email him at


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