Thinking About Tinker

Thinking About Tinker

Every so often I walk away after having watched a film and find myself remarkably impacted, unable to get the narrative out of my consciousness. Whether it was a full-length fictional or documentary short, I find myself replaying scenes and reflecting on how the filmmakers have gotten me to see things through a different lens: their lens. When I walk away longing to be a better writer and wanting to have the effect on others these filmmakers have had on me, I know I’ve just experienced a great story. The most recent film that has kept my mind spinning in this way is the Dead Leaf Productions short Tinker, written by Casey Dillard and directed by Glenn Payne, both Mid-South residents. While it’s been more than two months since I watched it, there isn’t a week that’s gone by wherein I don’t think about some aspect of this film and ponder why it remains so ingrained in my psyche.


Without giving the entire plot away (because you should definitely see it for yourself), Tinker shows how having extraordinary dreams can uproot an otherwise ordinary life, leaving little room for normalcy and even less room for mistakes. The protagonist endures a tiring path while he physically chisels away at achieving goals that aren’t quite within his grasp yet maintain a grip on him that won’t subside. This path takes a toll on everyone who crosses it, whether they have done so by choice or chance. With its twists and turns, humor and drama, Tinker showcases the very best of humanity in the most unexpected but timeliest of ways. And in doing so it has kept me going back to a place of reassessment and reflection.


I was so moved by Tinker that I asked Casey and Glenn to sit down and speak with me so I could get a better understanding of how this project came to fruition. For them it was about stringing together the concepts of sacrifice, constraints and difficulty in making choices when the unknown is whether the struggle will ever pay off. It was about demonstrating that success can be difficult to measure, especially when it involves having good ideas that may be hard to sell but without which our own inner peace would greatly suffer. Of their decision to stay rooted in the Mid-South, the cost associated with getting their projects produced plays a big factor. Casey explains, “We can spend a ton of time trying to get a ton of money to make movies or- just make movies.”


This week, the 19th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival is underway. While there are countless events that will inspire and entertain, one that I am most excited about attending is the Hometowner Narrative Shorts screening. I’m fairly certain that there will be another Mid-South filmmaker who causes me to pause and see something commonplace from a new, unusual perspective, just as Tinker did several months ago. I’m also fairly certain that I will walk away appreciative for the exposure to such gifted Mid-South artists and grateful that they have done exactly what Casey and Glenn decided to do: just make movies.


To watch the short Tinker, visit


For a complete schedule to this year’s Indie Memphis Film Festival, visit


Photo: Glenn Payne


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