Interview | Photos | Boyd Tinsley | Dave Matthews Band

By: Casey Shafer

Having just wrapped a rapturously received run of dates with Dave Matthews Band in support of their latest album Away From The World, violinist/mandolinist Boyd Tinsley took time out of his schedule to discuss his debut feature film, Faces in the Mirror.

The music was produced by Tinsley and performed by members of Dave Matthews Band, including Stefan Lessard, Tim Reynolds, Boyd Tinsley and Dave Matthews, along with musician Shawn Smith and music groups Maktub and The Silent Comedy. The film stars actor Ryan Orr and was directed by Aaron Farrington, produced by Ryan Gall in addition to Tinsley, and features special material written and voiced by former Poet Laureate of the United States, Rita Dove.

Click here to check out a tasty batch of photos from Dave Matthews Band's performance at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on September 9

JamBase: This is almost a silent film that really evolves around the soundtrack. I just finished watching your movie and I must say... I didn’t miss the dialogue at all.

Boyd Tinsley: Thank you man, I’m really happy to hear you say that. For me, I love a movie for the emotions it brings and I think dialogue sometimes, if it’s not at all necessary or forced, can really get in the way of that. Sometimes it feels like you have to stop and wait for it. Very purposefully, I wanted this movie to be really expressive emotionally [through the music], and it’s great to hear that you didn’t miss it.

Still Image from Faces in the Mirror
It also made me think of how the silent-film genre has disappeared. I think this is a perfect example of how important music is in film. Have you considered showing this to film-students and aspiring film-makers?

That is something I actually just started talking about in the last week or so; maybe doing something at NYU film-school. It's a way of making a movie, that on paper... is absolutely impossible. It required things that you just can't really teach... a leap of faith and patience. Those are the key components, [especially] when you're making a movie and you don't know exactly how it's going to end. It was such an inspired project, it was powerful. My belief in this was absolute from day one; and three years was a long time to believe. All along the way, things happened that strengthened my belief that this was what I was supposed to be doing.

Still Image from Faces in the Mirror

Like what?

The first thing is that we did the music first. Having the music first, knowing the mood of the movie, set the tone. We didn't even know what it was about yet. What these musicians were given before they went into the studio to record was a little bit about the story and a little bit of b-roll of the Charlottesville country side. Those [shots] were taken from a hot-air balloon. There may have been one piece of music that I had done with one of my engineers but that was all they had to go on. I told them to go into the studio and don't think about it...just play from the heart.

I know the acting was mostly improvised so the music was all improvised as well?

What you hear is exactly what went down at that moment. We went in there for maybe 15 or 20 minutes and just jammed. My engineer and I would go back and find the song within that jam. All the stuff you hear was one take, all of that just happened. That is so unheard of, that just doesn't happen. If you hear it, it sounds like it was rehearsed and written out and it wasn't. That's magic. Once that happened, it was really on. You know, I am in the Dave Matthews Band and I have been in some pretty magical situations musically; but I had never experienced anything that has quite matched this before.

Does this make you think, now that you recorded this album the way that you did [on the fly] that this the type of approach you are going to take when making a Dave Matthews record? I think for me personally, that is something that I definitely brought back [to the band]. I think that might be evident on, Away From the World, and even on tour. What I did musically, and what I realized could happen, that is part of me now. It had a huge impact on how I play and even what I play. Creatively, it was an eye opening experience. We just let go of everything in relation to the business and brought it down to the artist, just making art.

I thought it was interesting that you just recently found a distributor.

Yes, that was a recent thing. There was no corporate involvement, it was just me. I was the film-maker, and I am definitely not the corporate type (laughs). It was like the artists took over; it was a mini-revolution. We just went out there and made a movie as a group of artists. I said from the very beginning that I didn't know what we were going to do with this. The only thing we were going to think about was making an amazing movie...and we did that. I never had a discussion about what we were going to do with it until after it was done. How can you talk about something that is not even finished yet?

Still Image from Faces in the Mirror
I think some of the major studios should read a chapter out of your book...

...(laughs) You know what I mean, man?! If you are making a movie and thinking about what you are going to do with it after it's done, how can you focus on the process of film-making? I made sure that we weren't focusing on anything else. It was a three year process but honestly, I wouldn't want to do it any other way.

Is this something [film making] you are trying to focus on going forward? This was your first movie right?

Yes, it was my first movie and I am definitely planning to do it again. I was kind of inspired from the "Crash into Me," video. It's what I love about movies; beautiful images and a beautiful song expressing the same emotion. That video inspired me to make a movie and that's when I really started thinking about it.

Leroi Moore

Your close friend and mentor, Leroi Moore, passed away a few months before you started this project. Was doing this a part of the healing process for you?

Yes, yes it was. Leroi was really really close to me. He was a good friend and he taught me a lot about music. When he died, that really sank me down for a few months, man. I knew I needed to do something creative and express what I had going on inside of me. Being [creative] is what helps me get through those times. Prior to that, I had only talked casually about doing something like this and then it just hit me...like, this is the thing that you need to do. And the subject matter of the movie, grief and dealing with a loss is something that is reflective of what I was going through at the time.

In some of the cities that you have premiered the film, you have also done a performance of the soundtrack, can we expect an entire tour like this?

That is actually an idea that goes back to like 96 or 97 when I first started thinking about [making a film]. Here is how I am man, when I want to do something; I just want to go do it. I don't want to discuss it with anyone or...

...Yeah right! You're married!

(laughs) other than my wife. I knew that if I was going to make a movie; the way I wanted to make a movie, I was going to have to do it myself. My original idea was to have a movie but only show a few scenes at a time [in a music venue], maybe over a series of weeks and after you show all the scenes, you show the entire movie. This is exactly what we did. We went into these music venues like TLA in Philly and showed a scene or two from the movie, a Q & A, and then a musical performance. We had a lot of the musicians that were involved in the making of the film perform. It's been nothing like I have ever experienced and I don't think the audiences have experienced anything like this either.

Boyd Tinsley Tour Dates :: Boyd Tinsley News

JamBase | Faces in the Mirror
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