“Tom Hits His Head” is a true story…. well, sort of. It was inspired by writer/director Tom Putnam’s visit to the doctor, when he passed out and hit his head on the floor. In the months that followed, Putnam started to have dizzy spell and panic attacks. He started behaving irrationally, impulse buying a hazmat suit and having conversations with the devil sitting in his bathtub.
How much of this is really true, we’ll never know. Although the director does start to believe he is the Antichrist because if you count the letters in his first, middle and last names add up to 666 (for Thomas Andrew Putnam).
This film walks a tightrope between experimental and narrative. And even the usually annoying director’s narration seems oddly appropriate. The use of camera angles and imagery is excellent, and Putnam is able to make the silliest looking prop (like the devil’s head made from a baby doll) work in the film.
The choice to use 16mm color reversal films was a great decision. With the shockingly vivid colors amidst a sea of grain and grittiness, the film stock meshes with the film’s themes of panic, avoidance and the general question “What’s wrong with me?”
One interesting behind-the-scenes note is that the filmmakers were able to finesse the chemical formula from Kodak in order to develop and process their own film in-house, taking the concept of “by any means necessary” to its ultimate end.
Apparently, Putnam managed to shoot all of this film in his car and apartment in order to avoid his own panic attacks and agoraphobia during production. Still, he managed to get to Park City to screen his film at the Slamdance Film Festival. (So, some kudos go to the folks at Slamdance for helping a man triumph over his fears with an acceptance letter.)