Tyler Trumbo will be joining us with his film The Columbarium. Here are some questions to let you get to know more about him!
What is your connection to the South?
I was born and raised in the itty bitty town of Fincastle, VA–population 350. It lies right on the cusp of the Appalachian Trail and the James River. I established roots all across the state attending undergrad in Williamsburg at the College of William and Mary, then residing in Richmond where work took me back to the Appalachian Mountains creating video portraits of artisans and musicians that call the mountains their home. That project also inspired me to connect with the bluegrass and Old Time music that surrounded my childhood.
Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
I made The Columbarium during the first year of Stanford University’s MFA in Documentary Film and Video. Our designated shoot week landed during Halloween so I started searching the Bay area for traditions and places that memorialized those who have past on. I was stunned upon discovering the Neptune Society Columbarium of San Francisco, a cathedral-like repository for cremated remains. Emmitt Watson, the long-time caretaker featured in the film, was my source of inspiration. His perception of the place changed my initial anxiety of being surrounded by death into an excitement and celebration towards life. He holds a unique perspective on life and death that I felt important to share.
How did you start making films?
There were no major filmmaking outlets in the mountains where I grew up so you had to make your own. I got into documentary because it was the quickest way to get my feet wet without much money or resources, and it started a slow-burning love affair.
Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting?
The film was shot on an old 16mm Bolex film camera. It required me to hand crank to operate with each shot lasting only 28 seconds before the wind would give out. It was so loud that it was impossible to capture sound at the same time. You had to get creative in capturing sounds where almost everything heard was recreated or played in the space of the columbarium later on including the music selections.
What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it down this year. But I’m sending some Southern love across the country and hope to have the opportunity to come back again in future years!
Why should someone see your film?
It’s a short and sweet glimpse into the little pieces that can connect us even after we go. All we have to do is take a second look around.