2021 Slamdance Film Festival Film Review of “Man Under Table or: I’m Writing a Movie”

By Vernon Nickerson

I found music video director / filmmaker / actor Noel David Taylor’s “Man Under Table or: I’m Writing a Movie” fascinating. It is unique as a film made PRE-COVID-19 and released in the midst of a global pandemic which has changed irrevocably how films are marketed/ distributed and “build an audience” in the neo-virtual digital media multiverse. Watching “Man Under Table or: I’m Writing a Movie” unfold in words, pictures and a seamless soundtrack that enhances its narrative, I found it an intriguing piece of multimedia artwork. Truly thought-provoking in its creativity and display.

Set against the backdrop of a comically surreal and anachronistic Los Angeles, a beleaguered young man tries to write a movie but instead gets pulled into everyone else’s projects as he hallucinates his way through a bizarre indie film scene.

“Guy” is writing a movie, or so he claims numerous times in bars, parties, pretty much wherever he can. Guy eventually stumbles onto a hodgepodge of filmmakers including an Indie Darling: Jill Custard, and her lackey Ben, who endlessly accosts him, until Guy finds a washed up never was: Gerald. Gerald enlists his help to write what could possibly be the dumbest movie ever.

The film opens with Ben explaining his next indie endeavor to Guy in a public bathroom. This sets the tone aptly. Guy is immediately jealous and descends into a self-loathing rabbit hole, obsessively watching videos made by successful internet star “Lyle” at his local bar, while attempting to find inspiration for the film he claims to be writing.

It becomes increasingly apparent that this isn’t quite our universe; our timeline. We follow Guy through a dystopian dreamscape world in some parallel Los Angeles. With uncanny parallels to the milieu of present day, citizens of this otherworld don face masks to avoid the unnamed toxins swirling about in green smoke.

Continuing unceasing attempts to procrastinate, Guy googles Jill Custard’s progress, while replacing any will to write with a continuity nightmare of liquid courage. He hops around a few awkward and ramshackle simulacra of locals until he manages to run into two big shot film execs. In fitting form, he pumps up his “project” and impresses these stodgy drones.

From here we pinball from fantasy to “real-life,” until Guy is unwillingly and unknowingly cast in Jill’s latest short film about fracking and identity politics. At the same time, he stumbles into Gerald, who pushes him into writing his passion project -some unintelligible pile about a hitman, and a “cool” older dude.

All that being said, after being intrigued into watching “Man Under Table or: I’m Writing a Movie” simply to see what the creative village of artist gathered and directed by Noel David Taylor, is a must see film for those who truly enjoy the art aspects of the cinema. “Man Under Table or: I’m Writing a Movie” is the feature film directorial debut of Noel David Taylor, and world premiered at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival.

For more information and to follow the “Man Under Table or: I’m Writing a Movie” go to https://www.manundertable.com/