Tackle Box a film by Matthew Mebane


A little gem

M. Thornburg
Reviewed on Amazon in the United States
February 9, 2017

This 13-minute film, based on Patti White's wonderful poem of the same title, is just amazing! With no spoken lines, it tells a vivid and totally comprehensible story, both sad and funny, immensely moving, and at the same time it conveys with remarkable artistry (in the words of the poem) a "tension between surface and depth." All the parts of the film -- the acting, the direction, the cinematography, and the musical score -- are perfect and blend perfectly together. It's a little gem.





An elderly couple has fished the Lowcountry waters for decades. When they are separated by death, the story turns on the strange and lingering effect of the old woman's passion for fishing, a love so powerful that it ultimately leads a group of thrill-seeking losers to a peculiar redemption. Written by Patti White

Director: Matthew Mebane
Writers: Matthew Mebane(screenwriter)
Patti White(poem)
Starring: Ann Owens-Pierce, Ed Grady, Jeremy DeCarlos
Genres: Comedy
Subtitles: English [CC]
Audio languages: English
Supporting actors: Brandon Roberts, Tim Parati
Producer: Matthew Mebane
Studio: Shorts International
Purchase rights: Stream instantly Details
Format: Prime Video (streaming online video)


Credited cast:
Ann Pierce Ann Pierce ...
Ed Grady Ed Grady ...
Jeremy DeCarlos Jeremy DeCarlos ...
Brandon Roberts Brandon Roberts ...
Tim Parati Tim Parati ...
Drug Dealer
Brian Robinson Brian Robinson ...
The Suit
Maria White Maria White ...
Druggie Girl
Jonathon Nicholson Jonathon Nicholson ...
Druggie Boy
Bernard Blanding Bernard Blanding ...



Tackle Box

by Patti White

People who fish have a peculiar love for equipment,
for paraphernalia, for spatial coordinates,
trajectories, for the tension between surface and depth.

People who fish know there is more to water
than can be seen by the naked eye, more to a lure
than shape and dazzle, more to filleting than a long
sharp knife; people who fish are patient, dedicated;
they understand the relation between desire and deed.

Down in South Florida, an old couple fished together
for fifty years in the green water of the salt bays,
the black water of springs in turpentine country,
the wide flat saucer of Okeechobee, the sweet rivers,
the brackish mangrove swamps, the shallow Gulf where
big rays come to breed in August, the Everglades,

fifty years on the waters of Florida, fifty years
of setting traps for bait, filling the thermos with
morning coffee, checking the barometer, scaling fish.

She had precise notions about ordering her tackle;
she kept her hooks sharp, her bloodstained stringer
neatly wound and stored; she had her own supplies:
Bandaids, Maalox, Teaberry gum, leaders, sinkers,
ten pound test line, red and white bobbers, Coppertone,
aspirin, antibiotic cream, nitroglycerin pills,

so it made sense to him, when she passed away,
to keep her ashes in her tackle box, for love.

One afternoon two thieves came to the trailer
when the old man was away and couldn't believe their luck.

They came for electrical appliances, carelessly displayed
credit cards or checks, maybe a gold watch or a wedding ring
left lying on the sink after washing up; petty thieves, young,
they came for the obvious, the quick sell to the fence

and found a metal box full of drugs near a rusty bait bucket.

They bolted from the trailer and went directly to Castroville
where Jesus Huerfano purchased the drugs for a reasonable
but not extravagant sum; the thieves walked away with cool cash
and two small packets of white powder for a treat later on.

Jesus made it a rule to sample his product and when he sniffed
he felt the rush, a rather strange sensation, rather glittery,
but certainly, clearly, a chemically induced alteration,
so the drugs went on the street that evening.

Oh that bone cocaine, the soft ash,
so fine, so white, so

insidious. Two weeks later a stock broker found himself
drawn to the Walmart where he stood staring at the lures
for half an hour, the plastic crabs, fluorescent shrimp,

the Bass Rat, Orange Poppers, the Super Guido Frog,
the Rebels, Rappalas, the Mepps Black Fury,
the Daredevils, Silver Minnows, Scattering Shad,

the 6" Twirl Tail Worms. The merchants in town were
by a run on waders, surf rods, and insect repellent. Charters
rented out to oddly inept men, sniffling trollers whose
needle-marked arms burned in the sun, teenagers
driving BMWs lurked near marinas, and two bait shops
were looted on Sunday night. The two thieves
signed up on a tuna boat and worked the season.

And Jesus Huerfano had dreams of glistening fish

skipjacks and mullet, sheepshead, silvery sea trout,
mysterious redfish, grouper, flounder, and tarpon

he dreamed of fish head soup and grainy oysters
of deep fried snapper throats and conch fritters

he dreamed of soft white sand at the bottom of the sea
and glittering bones that shifted, drifted, so gently,
with the pull of the waves overhead

he dreamed of shining bones
dancing in the current as the fish sailed by.


One Of the best shorts.

Author: dab8791
7 April 2004

You must see this short. It really is a great and moving peace. VERY VERY well directed...the whole film is amazing.

Mebane is a true director who know what he is doing, when he is doing it and the result speaks for its self. GREAT JOB 10/10 Can't wait to see what he come up with next.

This is hands down one of the best shorts I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing.

Rory L. Aronsky
Film Threat

June 7, 2005


More Background On Tackle Box

"Tackle Box" is a poignant and evocative short film directed by Matthew Mebane, which has garnered acclaim for its unique storytelling, cinematography, and emotional depth. Based on a poem by Patti White, the 13-minute film unfolds without any spoken dialogue, relying instead on its visual storytelling and orchestral score to convey its narrative. The story revolves around an elderly couple who share a deep passion for fishing, a hobby that brings them joy and connects them deeply with each other and nature. After the wife's death, the film explores the lingering effects of her love for fishing, leading to an unexpected and heartwarming conclusion involving a group of thrill-seekers.

The film's distinct lack of dialogue sets it apart from other shorts, as it instead utilizes stunning cinematography by Robert Newcomb and an emotionally resonant score to tell its story. The sunlight filtering through trees near a lake, the intimate moments shared by the couple, and the eventual turn of events following the wife's death are depicted with a finesse that speaks volumes without a single word being uttered.

Critics and audiences alike have praised "Tackle Box" for its artistry and the way it manages to weave humor, sadness, and profound insights into the human condition within its brief runtime. Rory L. Aronsky from Film Threat highlighted the film's extraordinary cinematography and the emotional weight of the music, considering it one of the best shorts he's ever reviewed. The film's ability to express the "tension between surface and depth," as noted in White's poem and the film's narrative, resonates with viewers, making it a memorable cinematic experience.

The storyline is centered around the couple's love for fishing and how this shared interest impacts their lives and those around them in unexpected ways. After the wife's passing, the husband's decision to mix her ashes with bait leads to a series of events that intertwine the lives of two thieves, a drug dealer, and others in the community, all finding a peculiar redemption through the wife's enduring passion for fishing.

"Tackle Box" has been celebrated not only for its storytelling and visual appeal but also for the performances of its cast, including Ann Owens-Pierce, Ed Grady, and Jeremy DeCarlos, among others. The film's success at festivals and the strong reviews it has received underscore its impact as a piece of cinematic poetry that explores love, loss, and the unexpected ways in which we find meaning and connection in life.

This film stands as a testament to the power of visual storytelling and the depth that can be conveyed without words, making it a must-watch for those who appreciate cinema that pushes the boundaries of conventional narrative techniques.


Critics have praised "Tackle Box" for its artistry and the way it manages to intertwine sadness and humor within its short runtime. Rory L. Aronsky from Film Threat highlighted the film's exceptional cinematography and the significant emotional weight of the music, describing it as one of the best shorts he has ever reviewed. The film has been recognized for its ability to express a "tension between surface and depth," both literally in the context of fishing and metaphorically in terms of the emotional layers within the story.

The film has been encouraged to be seen by as many people as possible, with its screening at Slamdance mentioned as an ideal opportunity for audiences to experience its magic. The involvement of notable figures such as Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly in the "Special Thanks" section of the credits hints at the film's broader support within the industry.

"Tackle Box" has been described as a little gem that perfectly blends all its elements—acting, direction, cinematography, and musical score—into a cohesive and impactful whole. Its storyline, rooted in the deep love for fishing shared by the couple, unfolds in a way that is both understandable and deeply resonant, ultimately leading to a peculiar redemption that is both unexpected and deeply fitting.

For those interested in exploring the depths of short film storytelling, "Tackle Box" offers a rich and emotionally nuanced experience that showcases the power of cinema to convey profound stories without words. Its popularity and the impact it has had on its viewers underscore its status as a significant work in the realm of short films.

More On Director Matthew Mebane

Matthew Mebane is a director known for his contributions to both film and commercial work. He directed "Locker 13" in 2014, which is a part of his filmography alongside other roles in the camera and production departments for several notable films. His work spans various genres including drama, horror, and thriller, with "The Debutante Hunters" in 2013 being another significant project where he served as both producer and executive producer​​.

In addition to his film projects, Mebane has directed commercials for entities like The Cooper School and The Mint Museum, showcasing his versatility in handling different types of visual storytelling. His commercial work includes pieces like the Michael Sherrill Retrospective for The Mint Museum and project-based learning initiatives for The Cooper School​​.

His known credits in the camera department include working as the first assistant camera on "Halloween" and "American Animals," both in 2018, and earlier roles on films such as "Inherent Vice" (2014), "The Conspirator" (2011), "The Ugly Truth" (2009), and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" (2005). Mebane's ability to work across different segments of film production showcases his comprehensive understanding of the filmmaking process​​.

Mebane's career began with him assisting Academy Award-winning director of photography Russell Carpenter, which provided him with a foundation in filmmaking through firsthand experience on the sets of motion pictures directed by acclaimed filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick, Robert Redford, and Emmanuel Lubezki​​.

Although detailed information on awards and notable achievements specific to Matthew Mebane is not readily available, his body of work and the roles he has undertaken in various projects indicate a significant contribution to the industry, particularly in the realms of camera work, directing, and production. His career trajectory, marked by collaborations with renowned filmmakers and contributions to both commercial and narrative film projects, reflects a diverse and dynamic presence in the film industry.