Writer-director Tim Wilkime spoke with Solzy at the Movies about his new short film, Milton, screening during the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.
Congrats on Milton being selected for the 2019 SXSW Film Festival. How thrilled are you for the opportunity?
Tim Wilkime: Thanks! I’m very excited to be honoring the life of Milton at SXSW.
How did you get the idea to make this film?
Tim Wilkime: The idea for Milton came from a personal experience of witnessing my then girlfriend’s, now wife’s, grandmother pass away in hospice. It was a surreal thing watching someone take their last breath only to realize I was the only one that saw it happen. I had to tell the family as they were chatting off to the side of the room and unaware. Telling them went over fine but years later, as I was developing shorts, I realized with the right set of circumstances and characters there was a very bad and hilarious version of how that could’ve played out.
How did this cast come together?
Tim Wilkime: I’m really lucky with the cast I had for this. I had worked with most of them before on other projects so I just reached out with the script and hoped they were into the idea.
Were there any particular challenges in shooting the film?
Tim Wilkime: The biggest challenge with Milton came in pre-production when I was looking for a hospice room to shoot in. It was important to me that we shot in a real assisted living room, over a bedroom, as there’s an innate eeriness in those places that would add to the situation of watching someone die. I scouted multiple assisted living businesses in the Los Angeles area but they came with too many uncontrollable factors since they were working facilities. Eventually, I found a studio with a standing hospital set that my production designer and I were able to alter. It ended up costing more than I was planning but it made the production run so much smoother and the look we achieved with the room was worth the cost.
I thought this film was comedy perfection. Have you considered making a feature adaptation or would it just feel like an extended SNL sketch?
Tim Wilkime: I’m developing a feature about death that has a similar tone to Milton but it’s a completely different story with new characters.
You’ve directed series like Adam Ruins Everything and CollegeHumor Originals. As far as comedy directing goes, who are some of your influences?
Tim Wilkime: When I’m working in sketch comedy I’m frequently drawing inspiration from Edgar Wright. I love his use of camera movement, framing, blocking and editing to elevate the comedy within a scene. Spike Jonze is also one of my favorite filmmakers. Being John Malkovich is the kind of movie I would love to make one day. It’s an incredibly human story, while being surreal, hilarious and completely heartbreaking.
You edited the original Greener Grass short. Is it exciting to have your film playing at the same fest as the feature adaptation?
Tim Wilkime: It’s so awesome to see the success that Greener Grass has had. I just read today that IFC Midnight bought it and will be releasing in theaters. It was a lot of fun working and experimenting with Jocelyn and Dawn on the short film. I’m excited to see the wonderful weirdo that Greener Grass has grown in to at SXSW.