Rogue cinema: Boyd Tinsley makes film you can feel

For violinist Boyd Tinsley, it's always about the music– even when the medium is the movies.

In films like Star Wars, Psycho, and North by Northwest, the music creates the tension, says Tinsley. "That's what I love about them. I may not remember the plot. I listen from an emotional sense. I listen from the way I feel."

So when the Dave Matthews Band member decided to embark on making a film, the music came first.

For Faces in the Mirror, Tinsley headed into the studio. "Once we found a really cool idea, we'd build a song around it," he says. "That's the way we started this– with the music."

He played with Maktub and Shawn Smith in Seattle. "I'd never met these guys," says Tinsley, "and it was almost as if we'd been playing together for years. It was one of those rare, artistic, creative experiences where things just happened–" one he compares to recording the now-classic Under the Table and Dreaming with Steve Lillywhite. "It really took me back to that way Steve had of getting the best out of you," he relates.

Other musicians– including band mates Dave Matthews and Stefan Lessard– contributed to the soundtrack.

The basic premise of Faces in the Mirror is a son returning home for the funeral of his father, from whom he's estranged. "We don't have very much dialogue," says Tinsley. "What's being spoken is through the music, through the acting."

"A big part of why I think this film is so strong is because it came from a very deep, emotional place," says Ryan Orr, who plays the grieving son seeking forgiveness. "[Boyd] really knew what was the right approach to get the best out of everyone in his crew."

Orr is one of two out-of-towners in Faces in the Mirror. "This is a Charlottesville movie," says Tinsley. "This is so rogue. Everyone said you can use our business, our home... They came out as extras."

Tinsley himself takes an acting role as the preacher. "I brought the eccentric part of myself," he explains. "That's 75 percent of me, and so is this preacher. He's a very colorful character. He has a story to tell, and he tells it in church."

Look for other locals in the cast like poet and UVA professor Rita Dove, musician Travis Elliott, and colorful Hogwaller Ramblers founder Jamie Dyer (playing a prophet).

Tinsley describes his unorthodox filmmaking as "a creation from the heart." And unlike many filmmakers who can make a movie, yet can never find a distributor, even that fell into place for Tinsley when it was picked up by SnagFilms.

He credits one other element in making a film without a script and without knowing how it's going to end. Says Tinsley, "Basically, you've got to have a lot of faith."

The Charlottesville premiere of Faces in the Mirror is at 2:30pm Saturday, November 3, in Newcomb Hall Theater with Tinsley, Orr, and director Aaron Farrington discussing it afterward.

1 comment

This guy is one of the coolest dudes ever. He is on the level and has been from day one. Money fame and all that jazz ain't change this dude a bit. If you want proof just look at that smile! He used to come in my coffee shop a decade ago always left twentys in the tip jar. Same smile.