For Steve Oram, Mar del Plata is becoming his second home. In 2012, he came here to present Sightseers, of which he was the protagonist and co-scriptwriter. Now, he comes back to the festival with Aaaaaaaah!, his directorial debut.
However, this young British actor is not just a film celebrity but also a television comedian. He has done minor roles in several shows and, thanks to the great reception of Ben Whitley’s film –winner of the Astor for Best Screenplay in the International Competition of the 27° edition- now he is being casted for important dramatic roles. "I’m sure it’s because I look like a very bad person”.
Yesterday, Oram gave a master class on the current situation of English humor. The actors says his main influences are Monty Python and the series The Young Ones, which promoted anarchic humor between the 70s and early 80s.
"Current television comedy is too conservative”, he states. "It’s hard to work on parallel comic shows. They only cast renowned actors who guarantee success. Everything started with digital television. We went from having 5 public channels to 70, all competing against each other. There’s less risk. Nobody wants to lose. Cinema has become a more democratic means for subversive humor. People have become bored with television and go to the Internet”.
In Aaaaaaaah!,Oram imagines an ordinary suburban society, who communicates with the language of monkeys. "First I wrote it with English dialogues for the actors, and then we created our own language. In that chaos, there is certain coherence in the characters’ way of communicating. We didn’t want to imitate monkeys, we wanted to make it real. The rest was improvisation. Since I knew nobody would finance the project, I gave it directly to a group of friends actors”.
Apart from writing, directing and starring the film, Steve is in charge of distribution. "I gave it to several producers who told me they loved the idea but couldn’t finance it, so I distributed it myself and had absolute freedom to do whatever I wanted. I gave the fuck you to industry”.
Oram comes from a long tradition of British primitive humor based on slapstick more than words. From Jonathan Swift –author of Gulliver’s Travels- to the amazing Peter Sellers. "I’m not that interested in elegant and kind dialogues but in body language. With slapstick you can be subversive.”
The actor defines Aaaaaaaah! as a sort of silentRomeo and Juliet, in an alternative, weird and horrible universe; still, we do all those things in real life: "we all defecate, have sex and get violent, but we don’t do it in public. In essence, we are very much like monkey. When you take language away, culture is revealed. The rest is normal”.
Steve Oram has worked with Ben Whitley in several television shows, and has had minor roles in all of Edgar Wright’s films –Lethal Weapon, Shaun of the Dead-, with a special role in his last film, The World’s End. However, his filmmaking career started with short films. Aaaaaaaah! is a continuation of the type of comedy he has been doing for quite some time. "My mother liked it because she knows me. I love this type of physical comedy, not sharp dialogues”.
And this is only the beginning. Steve is already preparing his new film set in a fantastic and new universe, also with its own logic. "I’m acting a lot in order to finance it. It takes place in a ridiculous and filthy world”, he says about his next project.
Though he defines himself as a lunatic, he does not believe in psychoanalysis and states: "My work is my therapy”. We have Steve Oram for quite a while.