You know him as the muscular musical counterpart opposite Dave Matthews, vigorously wielding his bow across his violin strings in exhaustive and legendary collaborative jam sessions. But despite being a contributor to one of the most beloved bands of the past two decades, Boyd Tinsley’s work ethic has fueled a different sort of outlet to house his creativity. “Faces in the Mirror” is a brand new independent film- written, produced, acted in, and scored by Tinsley- but the film’s uniqueness lies even farther outside of the connection between famous artist and final product.
“Faces in the Mirror” was created conceptually, first by the music being used to score the film by Tinsley and some of his pals in the Dave Matthews Band. The written screenplay and subsequent filming was dramatically paced by the conceived music, one which- almost spiritually- drove the story of the movie on its own. Described as a ‘dance of film to music,’ Tinsley’s idea was a novel one, conceived initially following the filming of the band’s “Crash into Me” music video back in 1996. And now, some 18 years later, Tinsley’s cinematic brainstorm is now becoming a reality. The story follows a young man named Ben, who after years of parental neglect, returns only for his father’s funeral, with so many of his problems remaining unsolved. Seeking a remedy to free himself of years of pent up angst he engages on a strange, bewildering journey, led by the music that takes him there.
On Thursday, August 30th, “Faces in the Mirror,” the debut film created by Boyd Tinsley premieres live from Seattle on snagfilms.com. Fans will be treated to a live introduction from Boyd Tinsley himself, a viewing of the film, and a post-screening live concert performance, exclusive to this specific showing. You can RSVP right now to be a part of the entire evening’s events at snagfilms.com/faces.
LocalBozo.com sat down with The Dave Matthews Band’s Boyd Tinsley for an exclusive interview. Listen in as we discuss the challenges of a first time filmmaker, how the idea came to fruition, and whether or not we can expect another film from Boyd down the line. We also talk a great deal about the new Dave Matthews Band album “Away From the World,” working with producer Steve Lillywhite for the first time in over a decade, and if Tinsley could join one band on stage for one song, who would it be? It’s an honest, open interview with one of the most talented musicians and unheralded creative artistic minds of the past two decades. For more information on the band and their brand new album- “Away From the World”- check out davematthewsband.com.
The audio has been transcribed for your reading pleasure below.
LocalBozo.com: Boyd, thanks so much for giving us some time today.
Boyd Tinsley: Hey, thanks a lot man, for having me.
LocalBozo.com: Boyd, August 30th marks the world premiere of the film “Faces in the Mirror,” one that you wrote, produced, acted in, and also helped to score, talk about what prompted the idea for you to create a film in your own vision.
BT: I thought about making a movie in about the mid-90′s, when we made the “Crash into Me” video. It’s just so beautiful and so emotional and just like the music and the film of that video just sort of were married to make like chills go through me every time I saw it. So that director, Dean Karr really inspired me and then from then on I said “I want to make a movie.” Over the years I’ve been thinking about the ways I’d go about it, you know? And one of the elements was like putting the music- that you could actually make the music before you make the scene, because to me, it’s just like- I want to experience emotion from a movie and the way to do that is when the music and the film are just absolutely married together and what you feel from the music you also feel from the film. And it becomes like, an experience- something that just goes through you and to me, that’s more important than anything. It’s just like, when I go to a movie, I just want to feel something. That’s what we did here. We just made a film where we literally dance the film to the music and it’s just like they became one. So when you get into this movie, it’s almost like an album. It’s an experience you sort of get lost in. It’s like a dream, you know? Like a fantasy and you can experience it in different ways every time you see it, you know? I was one of the editors so I’ve seen it hundreds of times and I still love seeing this movie. And every time I see it, I see it from a different perspective. I see things in it I never saw before and I feel it a different way. The movie itself, the premise of it, I wanted to give everybody freedom to completely express themselves- the musicians, you know? I just told them the basic premise of the story and they expanded upon it. I’d say just “play from your heart.” And that’s what they did and they opened up the story. They gave us the rest of the story. And we directed the movie, all the actors watched it, you know- everybody watched the movie- the screenwriter- and everything was built around the music for this movie. I wanted to create something that you could feel. The other thing was that I wanted to start with an idea and have it- expand upon it so that you don’t really know exactly where it’s gonna go- that you’re only gonna find it as the experience unfolds.
LocalBozo.com: Well you certainly seem very passionate about it. What was the biggest challenge for you as a first timer just in getting the film made?
BT: Well I mean, it’s just like basically- I had no idea- the process of making a film or the mechanics of making a film. I just knew what I wanted out of a film and I knew how to go about getting that and that was where I started. Fortunately, I had a great director, you know? A great crew, cinematographer- I just had great people around me that could do, and understood the mechanics. I just said “this is what I want. I want this scene- with this big bonfire and I want all these, sort of wild people dancing around it like some sort of Pagan ritual party out in the woods.” I’ll say that and then I’ll leave it to [Director] Aaron [Farrington] to come up with what he sees that as. My part was really to express how I wanted things to look but also how I wanted things to feel. So I was one of the editors of this, with Aaron [Farrington]. And we edited this movie but the rule was we always made the movie dance with the music and we always had to feel something. It could never be a situation like “we have to have this shot” because of this or because of that and it’s like, no, in my opinion, you never have to have a shot. To me it’s just like, in the way I make it, you just need the shots that you need to create the feeling- that you feel from the scene because this movie has very little dialogue, so what you’re following a lot is the feelings of the main character and the emotion of his feeling is amplified through the music. He is communicating with us through his eyes, which are amazing- he’s a very expressive actor, Ryan Orr- but also the music as well. Those two together- you don’t need the words. You know what he’s thinking. You know what he’s feeling. You know what this feels like. So that’s what we set out to do and we came up with this beautiful movie and it’s because people were free to open up their hearts and to let all their creativity pour into this thing. And that’s the only way you can do something like this. You have to be completely free with no rules, no boundaries.
LocalBozo.com: How about a brief synopsis or what can fans expect from the film in your own words?
BT: There’s a young man named Ben. He’s about 30. He grows up resentful of his dad because his dad was always away a lot as a workaholic. He grew up lonely, he grew up bitter, so once he grew up he never came to see his dad. He never called him he sort of lost all contact with him and suffered through all these years of guilt. And he finally comes home when his dad dies for the funeral and he is completely distraught because he loved his dad. He really did love his dad but it’s just he felt such bitterness because his dad had to be away- his mother died when he was a kid as well, so he was a really lonely kid. So he goes and he sees a friend of his, Dylan. Dylan knows that his dad has died and Dylan is just trying to do his best and the only thing Dylan can come up with is “I’m going to this party tonight. Why don’t you come with me,” just to get out of the house. Dylan’s just kind of like a partying guy, but at the same time he has a big heart. He just wanted to make sure Ben, the lead character, was not left alone in his house. So he goes to this crazy party out in the woods, with this bonfire with all these wild people just dancing around this bonfire. It’s very dreamy; it goes into like three different parts of this scene. To me, it’s almost inspired to some degree- at least the license to do it- by…there’s this amazing dream sequence that’s really trippy by Salvador Dali that just sort of almost spells out the story in all the symbols all the things that are going on in it. It’s a lot of rich blood colors and all these different things and that gave me license- like in a movie, you can just go to it, you can just go to this place, you can just go to this dream world. And it’s okay. It’s just visually beautiful and we went there in this case. It a sense, it was like a portal into this whole dream that this guy goes on beyond that. We don’t know if it’s real or if it’s a dream. He just meets these people that sort of bring him what he’s looking for- the peace that he’s looking for- what he needs to hear to be able to relieve himself of all the guilt, and all the regret, and all the pain that he has experienced growing up and being apart from his dad in his adult life. Honestly, it takes place over a 24 hour period that transforms this character in the end, through all these people that he meets, these different people. And we’re left with “who are these people?” It’s the kind of movie where you can interpret it really the way you want to interpret it. For the most part, people interpret it in a very similar kind of way. Sometimes I would hear people bring different aspects to it- but you can interpret it anyway you want to because it’s such a movie of emotion and feeling that this movie can relate to you according to your own personal experiences.
LocalBozo.com: Did creating Faces in the Mirror stir up the creative juices for you in that regard- I mean, can we expect potential future screenplays from Boyd Tinsley?
BT: I definitely want to- I love this. I absolutely love this. You have no idea. And I worked on it every day for 3 years and I loved it. Definitely I’ll do a movie again. As far as the creative aspect of it, just in general, it has opened up my creativity even in DMB, in the studio- we just recorded an album in January called “Away From the World.” In that session it was just like- I was really more free and more open than I have been in such a long time. This movie sort of like, expanded my sense of creativity to say that ‘wow, there are no boxes. You can just go there. Fearlessly, go there.’ It really has made me a more bold performer and just more free and fearless about going somewhere that I may have never even gone before musically. But just going there, it’s amazing. This summer’s been such an amazing tour. Everybody- just so much creativity is pouring forth. And it’s so much freedom out there. But at the same time, we’re all together on the same page. But everybody is just completely open- it’s a universal experience of what’s going on now at DMB. It’s just like a resurgence of a lot of creativity that I haven’t seen since the very beginning, of just going wherever. It’s been great, I mean the movie’s been great for me in that regard and it’s just been a great year creatively for the movie and for the band.
LocalBozo.com: Let’s talk about that for a second. Fans have been hungry for a new Dave Matthews Band album for some time. “Away From the World” will drop in September. Talk about what it was like to get back into the studio with producer Steve Lillywhite for the first time in over a decade and what fans can expect to take from this new record.
BT: Well, Steve is amazing. He has been with us for 4- 5 albums if you count “The Lillywhite Sessions” (unreleased). Steve just gets stuff out of us. He just gets stuff out of us that I don’t think anybody else can. I think he understands this band in a way that nobody else does. He really knows the essence of what it is and also what each member contributes to it, that makes the Dave Matthews Band. He gets stuff out of me- I have no idea how he gets it out of me, but he does. And he does that for everybody. And there’s a certain magic that he just brings to the studio. And a lot of what Steve does too- he makes you comfortable. He always makes sure the vibe is good, that everybody’s feeling good and that there’s positivity, because in order to really go there like musically, or in the movie or anything, you have to feel comfortable because you have to open up your heart, so he’s really good at that. This was one of my favorite sessions that we’ve ever done. It reminds me of “Under the Table [and Dreaming],” it reminds me of the “Crash” sessions, you know? Just the excitement of new creative ideas flowing and the sense of ‘we can go anywhere. We can do anything. We can play anything that we want and not be afraid.’ So that’s the spirit of a Lillywhite session- it’s like, freedom, openness, and magic. This is one of my favorite albums and I can’t wait for people to check it out.
LocalBozo.com: Boyd, how have the new songs been received so far?
BT: People loved it. We played about 4 of the tracks from the album live this summer and people loved those and we have a few of them out on the radio right now, and I’m just hearing nothing but great things about it. I’ll just be honest, this album blows me away. I mean it absolutely blows me away. I’m very excited for people to hear it. It’s like an album in the old sense of like a story. It sort of tells a story, this album. It’s a lot like the movie I’m talking about, it’s just like- it tells a story- it’s like you get in it, because the movie is very much like that and the album- you can jump in at any point and you can continue on in a ride because it’s just like a story. This album is the same way and you can’t wait to see where it goes from here, so I’m really excited for people to hear the album and see the movie as well. And I have to say, even Steve Lillywhite was a big influence on me in the way that I went about making the movie, in the sense of I wanted to also create that vibe to make people comfortable to just be free to go there- to dig into their hearts and to have no limits of where they go. And a lot of that I got from Steve Lillywhite, there’s no doubt. I had the benefit of growing up with one of the best producers in the world and I learned a lot from that. And he’s a great guy as well.
LocalBozo.com: Let’s just jump back to the film real quick. The premiere is on Thursday, August 30th on snagfilms.com. It’s a site that provides independent films with sort of a broader scope for reaching audiences online. How did you get involved with snagfilms, and what can we expect from being a part of the live experience on Thursday, August 30th?
BT: I got involved with SnagFilms- I met Ted Leonsis who is the owner of SnagFilms- he’s also the owner of the Washington Wizards and one of the founders of AOL. But he’s also a very humble guy, a very cool guy, who’s very passionate about movies and things he loves like the Capitals and Wizards and sports. And I met him at this fundraiser and we just literally sort of bumped into each other, started talking, and we started talking about movies. And he was telling me about his site- SnagFilms that digitally releases a lot of documentaries and he was just telling me about some of the movies and I started telling him about the movie I was making and how we were making it. Then we finished the movie- “Faces”- about three years after that meeting with Ted. And I said ‘who am I going to go to to distribute this?’ And I was like, ‘wait a minute. How about Ted Leonsis?’ So I sent it to Ted and Ted watched it, he loved it. He had the president of SnagFilms watch it and days later they ultimately made this deal. And the movie’s going to be released on iTunes, Netflix, of course you can get it on snagfilms.com. And it’s going to come out on DVD later on in the fall. But it’s great because this company has really understood that this project is a different kind of thing. We have to go about it a different kind of way as far as the way that we promote it. It’s been very much a grassroots from the ground kind of thing. We’ve had events where we’ve invited people down to music venues and to see the trailer and to see a scene from the movie and I’ll have some musicians and we’ll have a jam session afterwards just to create- it’s like a whole experience. Just like the movie itself. Not just going to sit down and watching a movie, but there being like a whole experience you know? Watching this movie with all these different people, then having a musical performance. And then also, there’s was a time during the show that I’d go out and talk about the movie itself and have people ask questions of me. So it’s just like- we’re going to do that kind of thing, even once the movie is released, we’re going to take the movie itself on tour. And we’re going to go to music venues, and I want to share this movie in thousand seat theaters in like a rock ‘n roll kind of vibe because that’s the kind of energy that really makes this movie come alive. That’s the kind of raw energy that it was made in and that’s the place where it should be experienced. And I’m really happy that people are going see it on August 30th. This is a live webcast. You can watch it at snagfilms.com/faces. It’s just a beautiful movie so I’m really excited for people to see it.
LocalBozo.com: Alright Boyd, final question- if you could join one band on stage today for one song, who would it be?
BT: Well, Radiohead just popped in my head. That’s definitely one of my favorite bands. I don’t know if I could get in there and just sort of start improvising with Radiohead. I don’t know. You know with Neil- I have jammed with Neil [Young], Neil as you know came up with the Dave Matthews Band. It’s really weird, it’s like being with DMB, you’ve already played with so many great musicians. When you’ve played with like James Brown and Carlos Santana and Al Green, it’s kind of hard to say who you want to play with. But in answering your question, the person is Stevie Wonder.
LocalBozo.com: Awesome. Well Boyd, you’ve been so gracious with your time today. Is there anything else you’d like to leave for the readers of LocalBozo.com?
BT: I just want to say thank you first of all for having me on the show. I’m really excited for people to see “Faces in the Mirror” on August 30th. And tune in to snagfilms.com/faces. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
- Jane Van Arsdale