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By Phil Hall | April 10, 2002

“I Want to Know the Thoughts of God” is a six-minute exercise in naive theological rumination which is actually more interesting for what transpired off-camera than what occurs on the screen.
The film follows a 25-year-old Midwest steelworker who has just been laid off from his job. For no apparent reason, he decides to head west in search of a long-lost brother. The separation between the siblings was due to their parents’ decision to place them in orphanages when they were small children. The steelworker has only five dollars in his pocket, so he makes his journey by hitchhiking to a big city where he earns money by playing a guitar on the street. The man must be Hendrix reincarnated, as he earns a huge roll of dollars and can now travel by bus to the west coast. But before he goes, he buys flowers and heads to a cemetery where his parents are supposedly buried. Unable to locate them, he leaves the flowers at someone else’s headstone and hops the Greyhound for the rest of his journey.
It is easy enough to overlook that this film makes no sense whatsoever (how did a steelworker wind up with only five dollars to his name?), and the message that it is okay to hitchhike will probably create convulsions with any public safety worker who finds this film. Further laboring the issue is the film’s endless narration. There is no dialogue, just a gee-whiz narration in which the hero ponders and pontificates on the world around him while concluding how God must be looking out for everyone (the film’s title is from a quote by Einstein, which the hero learned while in his orphanage days).
Still, “I Want to Know the Thoughts of God” is worth noting because it only cost $300 to make. Despite the cheapo budget, this short is wonderfully photographed and skillfully edited, and it looks like a polished Hollywood production. Indianapolis-based filmmaker Mike Jansen shot the film on a Canon ZR10, edited it on a Dell Laptop with Adobe Premiere, and purchased the music track via the Internet. The result is a thoroughly professional-looking calling card which could put many an expensive 35 mm production to shame. The film also has the good fortune of casting Jeremy Buck as its main character. He is a handsome, sturdy young man with a self-assured camera presence and it would be to his (and the filmgoing audience’s) benefit if he could rise above the world of $300 short films for the proverbial bigger and better.

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