Keeping it raw in ‘Rivertown’

By Zach Turner
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

Tyler Hildebrand, a sculptor, painter, professor, and filmmaker who moved to Baltimore a few months ago, is laying the groundwork for his upcoming film “Rivertown.”

Set outside Baltimore, the film is based on a family struggling with everything from war to alcoholism.

“Families are interesting because everyone has one, everyone can relate to a family in one sense or another,” Hildebrand said. “There are three main characters all struggling with their own demons while striving for something better.”

The film is loosely based on Hildebrand’s graphic novel by the same name, and he currently has most of the layout written.  He said that he is always thinking of new ideas and wants to keep the project pretty loose for that reason.

The father in the film is an aging detective with Vietnam flashbacks.  One son is an artist who hears voices and is slowly joining his uncle’s biker gang while the other son is a former football star and recovering alcoholic.

“Baltimore is a perfect place to shoot,” Hildebrand said. “It has a wealth of unique character and architecture. Since I am not completely familiar with Baltimore, I still need to feel out the area and its people to get the locations feeling authentic.”

He plans to start shooting whenever the funds become available. He has applied for several grants and plans on applying for more when they become available.

Tyler Hildebrand is a sculptor, painter, professor, and filmmaker who is working on a new movie called "Rivertown.” Photo provided by Hildebrand

Tyler Hildebrand is a sculptor, painter, professor and filmmaker who is working on a new movie called “Rivertown.”
Photo provided by Hildebrand

“My favorite time to shoot is over the holidays,” Hildebrand said.  “Though my films have humor in them, they can be dark in tone and content, so the beautiful and cheery Christmas decorations make an uncomfortable backdrop, in the best way.”

He now resides at the Creative Alliance building on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore with his wife as a resident artist. He said the building feels like a dorm, although he has never lived in one.  The facility has film equipment available as well as a theater to view films.

“There are also seven other artists that live and work in the building so the creative energy is great,” Hildebrand said.  “There is always something going on for inspiration.”

He moved to Baltimore to not only live in the Creative Alliance building but because he sees the area as a hub for art because of its close proximity to Philadelphia, New York and Washington. Even further, his favorite filmmaker, John Waters, made his films here.

“Waters is single handedly the reason I decided to get into film,” Hildebrand said.

The David Lusk Gallery, which has locations in Memphis and Nashville, promotes his work and sets up his shows.  Memphis is also where his first feature length film, “Wallace,” took place.  It was about an aspiring guitarist in the area and was well received.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Robert Hollingsworth, the gallery manager at David Lusk Gallery.  “It’s something that you would not normally watch in Memphis, even though you might know or identify with the characters.”

Aside from film, Hildebrand has had his art exhibited several times in different venues across the country, including seven times this year.  He uses painting, sculpture and film.

“For me, one builds off the other. Painting is the basic two-dimensional story, sculpture brings it to life and film is the ultimate form of art,” Hildebrand said. “Film is the most fulfilling; it is also the hardest to bring to fruition.”

He strives to infuse a sense of humor into his work, while creating something honest and unique.  He wants to do something different than what anyone else has done before, and break out of the typical mold of society.

“I enjoy his work. He uses a lot of different mediums,” said Dwayne Butcher, a writer and art critic in the Baltimore area. “The work is chaotic, massive, and he may have a psychological problem. Maybe.”

More than just an artist, he teaches drawing to a class of 35 at the University of Maryland, College Park.  He has been surprised at how fast the class has been grasping concepts.

“I think that Tyler’s work is edgy, raw, and in your face. It’s honest and gives one pause,” Hollingsworth said.  “I have a lot of his work in my own collection.”






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