Alex Shandelman’s love short Turkey Bacon serves as a love letter to his Bubba and Poppi, Barbara and Frank Shandelman. His actual grandparents star in this, his first narrative short, about what might happen if fictional Barbara, “who has lost touch with her priorities,” made Frank turkey bacon instead of regular, chock-full-o’-fat bacony bacon.
Shandelman says the idea for the film came while he and his family were doing impressions of his grandfather (in the most loving way), who has a different opinion about what he should and should not be allowed to eat at 94 years of age.
The short was filmed in his grandparents’ home, just before they moved into a retirement community. “It was a little crazy to shoot in their house,” says Shandelman. They got it done in a weekend, Shandelman and his family, with little to no expertise, as this was a project for film school at Penn State. As anyone who’s ever been to film school can attest, taking over someone’s home with film equipment and crew is difficult enough. Having your grandparents star in said film can make things even more exhausting. There were points, Shandelman says, where they’d get all set up for the next shot only to find Bubba and Poppi asleep onset.
In Turkey Bacon, we watch Barbara try to get Frank ready for a big award ceremony where he’s being honored. She nags him about when to get up, what to wear, the schmutz on his face. He pads around following her helpful direction. And before noticing she’s substituted his regular dose of pork with dry, crunchy turkey bacon, he compliments her the way he always has: “Oh, Barbara, the eggs are marvelous, as always.”
So what did the real Frank and Barbara think of their first grandson’s first cinematic efforts? “They loved it. I showed it at their retirement home for all their friends.”
Ironically, the salty relationship dynamics of a couple married more than 60 years makes Turkey Bacon one sweet love short.