Behind the Scenes
On Launching: The Story Behind ‘You Know Where To Find Me’
One of the most pivotal times in a young adult’s life is the moment they truly strike out on their own – a reality that seems frustratingly out of reach for some, especially those living with disabilities. In You Know Where to Find Me, Director Sam Davis explores the unique experience of a young man with an intellectual disability reaching for independence and finding his way in a leap of faith both terrifying and glorious.
We had the opportunity to check in with Sam and hear about the unique experience he had in telling Frankie’s story:
”"...imagine how much talent and passion is out there going unnoticed, especially in people with disabilities."Sam Davis
Filmsupply: What inspired you to create “You Know Where To Find Me”?
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.
Coming from a predominantly documentary background, Rayka and I are really inspired by the gray area between documentary and narrative, and we saw an opportunity to experiment here. The film is very much a narrative but I hope the documentary approach to shooting, editing and casting lends it a heightened quality of truth and authenticity.
Did you face any creative challenges during the development of the film? If so, how did you overcome them?
The concept called for an exceptionally specific location. With only a few days of on-location prep time, somehow we had to find the perfect apartment building with a vacant unit on a safe and photogenic street, across from the perfect house (and permission from all three!). It didn’t seem possible. Two days before we began shooting, we were scouting a car wash when the owner mentioned that he was also a real estate agent. We didn’t like his car wash, but he sent us away with a list of local apartment complexes to check out. We followed the first address to a quiet dead-end street buried in fallen yellow leaves, with the perfect little apartment building across from the perfect house. And a whole lot of mailboxes in between.
How did you approach casting?
We worked with Natalie Lin at In Search Of Agency who has a gift for finding offbeat undiscovered talent. The mission was for everyone in the film to feel like a documentary subject, not an actor. For the most part, the cast is made up of first-time actors.
For the Frankie role, we spent months scouring social media, scouting Special Olympics events, and spamming high school special education administrators around the country. We came across a Special Olympics interview of Grayson on Youtube very early on, and while we immediately liked him, it took seeing hundreds of others over the course of the next few months to finally return to him. We met Grayson and his mom Martha in a small town outside Chicago to film screen tests and eat pizza, then called to offer him the role a few days later, to which he very calmly replied, “Okay.” Martha assured us he was excited.
Noa Graham who played Frankie’s mom was an exception to our non-actor rule. We liked the idea of a trained actress sort of “mothering” Grayson through his first experience on set, and we hoped that might naturally inform their on-screen dynamic on some level. Noa and Grayson met in person for the first time the day before filming began, but thanks to Noa’s talent and sensitivity, their mother-son connection feels very genuine.
Were there any moments during shooting that stand out in your memory?
Too many. Here are a few:
- Seeing Grayson shine, both on camera and behind the scenes—the way the experience empowered him but also the way his infectious energy galvanized and elevated the crew around him—will always be the most memorable part of the experience for me. Despite being his first time on set, it all came so naturally to him. So much so that after the first scene, he insisted that I no longer call him Grayson—his name was Frankie.
- On the morning of the car wash scene, Harry, Darrell and Conrad from Classic Car Wash took Grayson through a full employee training session so he could feel at-home in his workplace. By the time we shot they were cracking jokes like old work pals.
- We had the idea for the yard sale scene just before sunset on our last day. As we scrambled to cobble together the set using whatever props we had on-hand from the house interior scenes, a friendly neighbor watched on from his porch in disbelief that a movie was being shot outside his door. He had a great look and a distinct raspy voice, so we asked if he wanted to be in the film. He walked off his porch right into the shot and he and Grayson had this hilarious automatic chemistry. His name was Dustin.
- THIS blissful moment* Reef caught of Grayson calling “That’s a wrap… gang gang.”
Did you encounter any surprises in the editing process that required a creative solution?
We shot the film in long improvised takes, so in a lot of ways it was more like editing a documentary. We were writing the story in the edit. For example, we had no idea that the answering machine scene would be so substantial in the final film. We also shot a lot of great stuff that didn’t make it, like a sweet scene of Mom plucking Frankie’s unibrow.
What do you hope to accomplish with this film?
More disability representation and disabled actors playing disabled roles is great, but still too often they’re one-dimensional characters defined by their disability. I hope this film serves as an example of a nuanced, naturalistic, dimensional snapshot of a person with an intellectual disability. Before his disability, we see a young man with a job, who hopes to one day have a girlfriend, who has a complicated tough-love relationship with his mom, and who’s preparing to take the universal leap toward living independently. Given how much Grayson loved the experience of acting, I also 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 they are.