As filmmaker Charles Frank grew older, he felt a certain disconnect to his family and past that he couldn’t quite figure out.
After all, he thought, his parents never even recorded any home movies.
“It’s interesting,” Charles told LittleThings. “The ‘disconnect’ was not because of any dramatic or horrible reason, it just started slowly happening after I left home when I was 18. I think I was so focused on developing my career and my own ‘home’ that other relationships fell by the wayside.”
Then one day, Charles’ mom asked for help in transferring old family movies to a hard drive.
At the age of 21, Charles was stunned to discover he had access to childhood memories all along. Twenty hours of home movies later, Charles had watched himself learn how to ride a bike, playing with his father in the yard, and walking along a sandy beach as a kid.
Craving even more insight into his past, Charles decided to dig into his cell phone — where he found 38 previously unheard voicemails.
The messages were never opened, and most of them had been left over time by his mother, Dawn. The messages ranged from sweet and innocent (she found a shirt she thought he’d like, or a recipe) to emotional and sentimental (she told him she “missed having a son” when he never responded to her calls).
That’s when Charles realized it.
“The voicemails and home video made me reflect on my mother’s support and love through the years,” Charles says. “It’s just as powerful today as it was when I was 5 years old… even in the face of my recent neglect. That’s something I really look up to. To give without any expectation of a return is the most noble thing somebody can do. That said, my mother deserves a return, and I hope this film is a step in the right direction.”
Charles, a talented, Brooklyn-based filmmaker, created a short film entitled, “My Baby You’ll Be,” inspired by the home movies and voicemails he discovered three months ago. The film is narrated by Dawn’s actual voicemails and features clips from the home movies from Charles’ childhood.
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