By midlandsmovies, Mar 22 2018 05:58PM
I Am God, And Severely Underqualified (2017)
Directed by Theo Gee
A sparse room, a man at a typewriter and a slowly delivered voiceover monologue may seem a rather basic premise for a film with such a grandiose title but don’t let the simple set up give you a false sense of security.
I Am God, And Severely Underqualified is a Nottingham made film that comes from local director Theo Gee and opens us up to “creation” in all senses of the word.
As described, the film is set entirely in one room and with actor Melvyn Rawlinson (whose white beard is god-like but who is never referred to as such) placed at a typewriter. As a voiceover begins we realise that the words we hear are the words being typed out onto the paper. But in a great twist the words (and voice) are also describing the short as it happens.
This self-referential idea harks back to Stranger than Fiction (2006) and Adaptation (2002) both of whom are concerned with the meta-idea of the process and presentation of creative writing. In the latter’s case Spike Jonze’s film uses an inspired Charlie Kaufman script which, in turn, represents Kaufman’s own struggles with writing.
On a technical side, this short uses perfect image compositions and great close-up camera work that are balanced whilst the minimalist set is dressed superbly with little touches including brain-storming Post-It notes and lonely cups of water. In addition, the ethereal sounds of the score are suitably angelic and combine well with the clacking of the typewriter at work. A gentle hum of the background noise of traffic barely registers but allows the audience to acknowledge the world but we are solely focused of the writer, as much as he is on his work.
As well the struggles of writing the film can be seen as a metaphor of creativity – and specifically filmmaking itself. Like Nolan’s Inception, where the actors represent various roles on a film production, this local short uses a similar concept. The doubts of a filmmaker can be summed up with the writing process our lead undertakes whilst the photography posters on the wall are symbolic of camera work. A coin falling to the floor which interrupts the scene harks to filmmaking “money men” – funding being a key to the production process – whilst puppets in the corner could demonstrate the later need for actors.
A fantastic performance from Melvyn helps sell the abstract concepts as his pauses and sighs elicit a lot of intrigue from just a few subtle expressions. From pacing around to taking a break for some coffee – we get a protagonist deep in thought. A shot of a bin full of discarded first drafts further establishes the problems of writer’s block and scriptwriting. The film physically personifies writer’s block as the typewriter’s letter “A” gets stuck. I felt it important that this is the first letter of alphabet with themes of “beginning” (and creationist symbolism too) being littered throughout. These allusions to the religious continue as Melvyn’s “God” (of writing) even looks up to the light mid-way through and the drip of water has a feeling of rain, life and floods. Perhaps a flood of ideas?
Anyone who has seen Aronofsky’s “mother!” will notice the similar use of a parable to tell a story and this exciting short is full of similar ideas of imagination, creation and compulsions. The doubts of a filmmaker (or any creative endeavour) and the forces at work to complete works of art are fully explored as well as the outside influences of pure luck in anyone’s success.
The film won the categories for Best Short & Best Editing (Leonard Garner) at our recent award ceremony and is not just a technical tour-de-force but a short many filmmakers would relate to given their struggles and journeys in getting ideas started (and finished).
Midlands Movies Mike