“Meantime” was selected as a finalist in this year’s ShortList Film Festival, presented by TheWrap. You can watch the movies and vote for your favorite here.
What started life as a short film about a cult drug rehab program ended up becoming something even more personal for DirectorMichael T. Workman. In “Meanwhile,” Workman fixes his camera on his father and, with the help of home videos from two different generations, explores parenting, pressure and the pitfalls of a capitalist society.
“It morphed into a movie that was more about our relationship and more about a character study about him, and about memory and family guilt and the depravity of capitalism,” Workman said in a recent interview with TheWrap.
“Meanwhile” is an unflinching look into the life of Workman’s father, Tim, as he struggles to keep his head above water after a stroke where he relies on food banks, tries to fix his own truck, and tries not to lose the hope. The big Montana sky had never looked so gray or gloomy.
It was while helping Tim digitize his VHS tapes that he had filmed during Workman’s childhood, a task many Millennials find themselves taking on with their parents, that the director began to consider adjusting the focus of the film.
“It was the first time I had seen that footage and it was a very emotional experience for me, so I think that was the seed of the film,” Workman said. “Archive images of [Tim’s] childhood came later.
Tim faced a number of challenges throughout his life, stemming in part from his dyslexia, which was deeply misunderstood at the time, as well as childhood abuse that led to addiction issues, many of which caused Workman’s father to become felt isolated and useless, unable to adapt to the inflexible demands of the traditional workplace.
“The way our society is organized really hurts and traumatizes people who can’t fit in and I think that’s the inciting incident, my dad couldn’t fit in because of his dyslexia, because he couldn’t write or was overweight as a kid, or whatever, all of these things can cause a great deal of trauma in an individual that can then carry over into their life,” Workman said.
“It can lead them to take medication with alcohol or whatever, and inhibit them from being productive members of society and work, which then means they are not allowed to have housing, health care, food, education, all of that. things are taken away from them because they cannot fit into the strict work regime of capitalism,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, making “Meantime” has brought Workman and his father closer than ever, and he hopes people will consider their own relationships with their parents when watching the film.
“Talk to your parents about the difficult things, if you can, in a way that doesn’t hurt them. One thing I’ve learned through this process is that there’s a fine line,” Workman said. “There’s a lot of talk these days about diving into the more difficult parts of your life and I think that can be helpful, but it should always be gentle.”
“I think there were times where I felt like I went too far and it wasn’t constructive. There’s a fine line when people talk to loved ones about trauma and try to be respectful of it.”
The 2023 ShortList Film Festival takes place online from June 28 to July 12, honoring the best award-winning short films that premiered at major festivals in the past year. See the finalists and vote for your favorite here