After 23 years of anticipation, Frankie moves into his own apartment with his mother’s help, only to find that newfound independence comes with unexpected emotions.

In Sam Davis‘ emotionally resonant short film, “You Know Where to Find Me,” we are introduced to Frankie, a character whose journey echoes the experiences of many individuals seeking independence. After waiting for 23 years, Frankie, with the support of his mother, embarks on the momentous endeavor of moving into his own apartment. As he navigates the challenges and newfound freedoms that come with this transition, the film offers a unique perspective on the complexities of independence and the enduring bonds of love and connection.

The film’s narrative is rooted in a deeply personal story inspired by the director’s childhood friend, Frankie, who has an intellectual disability. It is a touching portrayal of a pivotal day in Frankie’s life, as he steps out into the world on his own. “You Know Where to Find Me” takes a fresh approach to the classic “moving out” trope, shedding light on the profound impact of this moment not only on Frankie but also on his mother, adding depth and authenticity to the storytelling.

Sam Davis, known for his background in documentary filmmaking, seamlessly combines elements of narrative and documentary filmmaking to create a compelling and heartfelt story. “You Know Where to Find Me” captures the essence of truth and authenticity, inviting viewers to reflect on the universal themes of independence, connection, and the enduring bonds that shape our lives.

Can you give us a brief overview of “You Know Where To Find Me” and the central themes it explores?

For years I’ve dreamt of making a sort of character study inspired by a childhood friend named Frankie who has an intellectual disability. Frankie’s well-known and loved in my small Michigan hometown. We still keep in touch, and he recently told me the story of his first night alone in his own apartment after 27 years living at home with his mom. I loved the idea of a fresh take on the “kid moving into college dorm” trope; a slice of life set against this quietly momentous day in Frankie’s (and his mom’s) journey.

Could you share more about Frankie, the real-life inspiration behind the film? What aspects of his personality and experiences did you find most compelling to translate onto the screen?

Frankie’s just someone with a big heart and a great personality, and a vital part of the community. That was something I wanted to capture—a character with a disability who’s not bullied or tokenized or the butt of jokes.

The film centers around Frankie’s move to his own apartment after 23 years living with his mom. What challenges and emotions does he encounter during this transition, and how do they drive the narrative?

The tension between the thrill of independence and the fear of the unknown. It’s very universal. And also expectations vs. reality—the fantasy version of this day that’s been playing in his head for years, complete with a party and friends, versus the awkward and lonely adjustment phase he’s about to undergo.

How does the film depict the relationship between Frankie and his mom, especially as he embarks on this new chapter in his life? What dynamics are at play here?

We’re sort of thrust into their relationship with no context, so it was important that we sense an underlying tension between them—not in the form of on-the-nose movie bickering, but a sort of quiet, deep-seated, 23-years-in-the-making mother/son tension which is equal parts love and frustration, exacerbated by the anticipation of this major transition for both of them. That’s a pretty tall order for the actors, who in reality met only a couple days before filming.

I’d like to go back and make the film again, just for fun, this time through the mom’s perspective. She’s of course enduring her own emotional tug-of-war. Noa played the role beautifully, but it wasn’t about her character. She really understood and embraced that.

“You Know Where To Find Me” appears to be a slice-of-life narrative. What are the advantages of this approach in telling Frankie’s story, and how does it capture the essence of his experience?

The idea was to zoom in on this very specific juncture in Frankie’s life for creative reasons as well as logistical. To drill down deep into a moment, rather than spreading the production thin over a less contained version of the story and coming away with something more superficial.

Could you describe the significance of the setting, both in Michigan and within Frankie’s new apartment, in shaping the atmosphere of the film?

I’m from Michigan originally, not far from some of our shooting locations. In fact, the little community in which we shot most of our exteriors—Rives Junction—is a place I’ve sort of had filed away in the back of my mind ever since I drove by as a kid. The Michigan fall also contributed to the atmosphere, and we liked the subtle symbolism the falling leaves lent this as a story about transition. The key with Frankie’s new apartment was for it to feel utilitarian and a little harsh, essentially the opposite of his home. That and the amazing sight-lines across the street to his mom’s house.

Portraying characters with intellectual disabilities can be a sensitive endeavor. How did you approach this aspect to ensure authenticity and respect while telling Frankie’s story?

We were definitely sensitive to Grayson’s needs, especially being his first time acting. We took the time to build a friendship over Zoom in the months before, as well as at an in-person screen test. But because we cast Grayson to essentially play himself, with almost no scripted dialogue, etc., I didn’t feel a great deal of extra pressure or sensitivity in the portrayal of his character. If it came from him, it was inherently authentic and respectful in that sense. It was really a collaboration, with him taking the lead on all things Frankie.

Beyond Frankie’s personal journey, what messages or takeaways do you hope viewers will glean from “You Know Where To Find Me”? How might it inspire empathy and understanding?

While we’re seeing more disabled actors playing disabled roles, still too often they’re one-dimensional characters defined by their disability. Given how much Grayson loved the experience of acting, I hope the film will serve as a sort of calling card for him and other first-time actors with disabilities. There were more than a few moments while shooting where I thought, ‘man, imagine how much talent and passion is out there going unnoticed, especially in people with disabilities.’ They themselves don’t even know how capable and talented they are.

We need to know, what are your favourite short films?

La Coupe by Geneviève Dulude-De Celles, Six Dollar Fifty Man by Louis Sutherland and Mark Albiston, and Caroline by Celine Held and Logan George