“Man Under Table”, an independent film about the making of an independent film, released at Slamdance


Noel David Taylor wrote, directed and starred in “Man Under Table or I’m Writing a Movie”, a comedy feature film that is currently screening at the Virtual Slamdance Film Festival.
Photo by Danny Lane, Courtesy of Sorry People Films

“Man Under Table where I write a movie”Is a comedy feature film based on something filmmaker Noel David Taylor knows: trying to make an independent film.

The film, which is currently showing at the virtual Slamdance Film Festival, is inspired by the act of “artistically groping for discovery,” which is quite common in the independent film world, according to Taylor.

The story follows a filmmaker, played by Taylor, who is in search of funding and the means to make an independent film, to be drawn into the plans and journeys of other people’s ego.

“I have rebounded for years in this world, and I have largely failed at anything and I was frustrated,” he said. “I was collecting ideas and had dozens of random quote notes that sounded funnier than depressing. But I didn’t know what I would do with them.

The idea to start making “Man Under Table” a feature came after Taylor, who is known for his shorts and music videos, found himself in a bind.

“I was so frustrated with doing nothing, so I started putting pieces together in a script,” he said.

Even though he knew the project would be a feature film, Taylor approached it as he does with his shorts.

“I wrote it in a way that suited my way of filming, because I knew from the start that it was going to be something that I would have to self-produce in a very micro way,” he said. “So I scheduled daytime shoots when I could when the actors were available. And it took a long time to film, because of that.

The cast features Taylor as the main character, along with Ben Babbitt, Danny Lane, James Canto, Robert Manion, Alisa Torres, Frank Perry, Sara Beth Tucek, Katy Fullan, and John Edmund Parcher.

“The people, for the most part, are the ones I’ve worked with before, and I knew what they could bring to the script,” Taylor said. “The only person I didn’t know was the older actor, John Parcher.”

Parcher plays Gerald, an “experienced” filmmaker who really doesn’t know what he’s doing, Taylor said.

“The first time I spoke to him I knew he would be able to bring this character to life,” Taylor said. “He really made up the character and brought him to what he is. In fact, I pretty much asked everyone to make their own version of the characters in an open and collaborative environment.

For the main character, Taylor looked at his own characteristics.

“I wanted to make the main character an inert, impatient and almost arrogant, useless type of person,” he said with a laugh. “I thought it would be a funny picture, and those are the worst qualities in me.”

Adding to the film’s minimalist feel, Taylor didn’t hire any extra and used cardboard cutouts to fill in the scenes.

“There’s that notion in LA when you’re on a set and you’re making the movie, and no one other than the stars is important,” he said. “So I thought that would be another kind of joke that the extras just need to look like in a person’s shape.”

Taylor started main filming in 2018 and got everything edited and ready just before the coronavirus pandemic shuts things down in 2020. And the timeline only highlighted some of the prophetic touches that appear in the film.

One of those touches is the use of gas masks that shield the characters from a green, smoky haze when they go out.

“The masks came from a psychic fever dream I had,” Taylor said. “I built the masks for the movie, because I thought if there was a need for us to wear masks in the future, they had to be the same style, and of course, here we are.”

The title of the film “Man Under Table” comes from the idea of ​​protecting oneself, like a child making a blanket and a pillow under the kitchen table.

“Everything you do when you step outside comes from a guarded place,” Taylor said. “You have to create some kind of personality around you to feel safe, and part of that essence comes from this childish behavior.”

Taylor thinks Slamdance is the best festival for her film.

“It’s one of the coolest festivals in the world, and I’m still dealing with the shock of going into it,” he said. “It’s a little bittersweet because it’s a virtual festival this year, but it kind of fits because of the weird and alienated vibe of the movie. I just hope this will be seen, as the intention was to reach someone in a way that they feel less alone. I hope that is what he does.


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