SAM DID IT (2018) is a dark-comedy short film which is directed by Dominic Burgess, an actor who has had roles in TV shows such as The Good Place, Feud, and The Flash. This award-winning short film stars Alfred Molina as himself, a co-star of the show Feud alongside Burgess. This short film deals with the subject of the death of a celebrity, and how fans and the general audience who love and idolise a celebrity cope with their death.
The lead character Sam (played by Burgess) works at a morgue, and on this particular shift sees that the body he has to deal with is none other than his favourite celebrity, Alfred Molina. This subject of the death of a celebrity came into Burgess’s mind back at the start of 2017, when seeing how many beloved celebrities has passed away in 2016. It seems fitting however that the short film has only been released now, at a time when a lot of us are still trying to process the death of Stan Lee.
The format of the short film is very different to one of the feature film, in which time plays the key element. SAM DID IT manages to tell it’s story in a mere seven minutes. This is down to the script and story, which is simple and only focuses on one plot. Most short films do this, and it is the same format of a short story in comparison to a full novel. These stories usually focus on characterisation rather than setting or world-development, and I really enjoy watching these short films when they are done well.
This is an excellent short film from Burgess. Dark-comedy can sometimes be a hard balance to find, but this short film does it excellently. Right from the first shot, we get a glimpse into the attitude and mindset of Sam, who has this weirdly optimistic and cheerful mood despite working in a morgue. The tone of the short film never goes overboard or inappropriate, yet has the right amount of humour to lighten up the situation.
What makes this film stand out in particular is the commentary on celebrity culture and social media. There are certain scenes and moments within the short film that seem disrespectful to the dead, like the scene with the selfie, however it is completely accurate. As consumers of the celebrity world, we do try and get their attention and beg for them to notice us. We also use their fame to boost our egos, bragging about every notice and photo we get with that said celebrity. Even when they pass, we use their rising popularity to promote ourselves and it may be sad, but this film highlights that reality perfectly.
Burgess does a fantastic job in this short film. He is writing and directing himself, and you can tell that it feels natural to him. Whether his character is in shock, awe, devastation or delight, it feels like a natural reaction. They are all feelings that people have when reacting to a celebrity’s death, whether they are in shock that they died, devastated that the passed away or even proud of how much they accomplished in their lifetime.
This is a fantastically made short film that is genuinely funny and dark, and has a great balance of both to show the reality that we live in. We become obsessed with these celebrities and their lives, sometimes even more so than our own, that it becomes unhealthy. Burgess shows us that reality in a comedic way and the timing works perfectly.
This short film premiered on Vimeo today, and has won several films awards (one of which being an Academy Award qualifying), and been nominated for a lot more. When you take the time to sit down and watch it, you will understand why it is getting so much praise.
If you would like to watch SAM IS DEAD, it is now available to watch here.