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“An Emotional Language Emerged Within the Textured Universe of Glitches”: Matt Yoka | Whirlybird

A still from Whirlybird by Matt Yoka (courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Whether capturing or creating a world, the objects onscreen tell as much of a story as the people within it. Whether sourced or accidental, insert shot or background detail, what prop or piece of set decoration do you find particularly integral to your film? What story does it tell?

The Glitch.

The analog video glitches throughout Whirlybird are more than stylized decorations, they are ghostly characters. While sifting through thousands of hours of the Los Angeles News Service archive (3/4″ and beta tape from the 80s and 90s), video glitches were abound. As much as I wanted the audience to live in the moments captured on these tapes, I wanted them to also experience the physical archive itself. As we dove deeper into the archive, an emotional language emerged within the textured universe of glitches, static, distortions—an impressionistic vision of our characters’ intense experience during a specific time in their lives. But yes, the sounds and colors created by these video imperfections are wildly beautiful decorations too. Each frame of a glitch is its own unique warped rainbow of analog video tape. They just don’t make glitches like they used to.

Sundance Responses 2020

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