Sundance film asks audiences to immerse themselves in ‘The Sound of Silence’ |

Sundance film asks audiences to immerse themselves in ‘The Sound of Silence’

Peter Sarsgaard stars in "The Sound of Silence" by Michael Tyburski. Tyburski says he hopes the causes audiences to be more aware of the ambient sound around them.
Eric Lin/Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Michael Tyburski has been to the Sundance Film Festival before. His short film, “Palimpsest,” screened in Park City in 2013 to warm reviews, ultimately winning a special jury prize for acting.

But until this year, he’d never returned.

“I wanted to be invited back in order to go,” he said. “In a way, I’ve been working toward hopefully making something that would resonate with the festival again.”

In 2013, though, he had little idea the project that would send him back to Park City would stem from the one that got him into Sundance the first time. But after “Palimpsest” earned positive feedback during the festival, Tyburski and co-writer Ben Nabors decided to adapt it into a full-length feature.

'The Sound of Silence'

Saturday, Jan. 26, 12:30 p.m., The Ray Theatre
Sunday, Jan. 27, 9:15 p.m., Grand Theatre
Monday, Jan. 28, 8:30 a.m., Prospector Square Theatre
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 12:15 p.m., Eccles Theatre
Friday, Feb. 1, 5:45 p.m., The MARC Theatre
Saturday, Feb. 2, 3 p.m., Sundance Mountain Resort

The resulting film, “The Sound of Silence,” is an entry in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Drama Competition. The film centers on Peter, a professional “house tuner” who analyzes the acoustics of people’s homes to pinpoint sounds, such as the hum of a kitchen appliance, that are altering their moods.

Tyburski said the character and the world around him were ripe for further exploration after audiences got their first look at the life of a house tuner in “Palimpsest.”

“We really took our time to make the world a little bit bigger around that character,” Tyburski said. “I was really excited to use that house tuner character as kind of a conduit to a very unique perspective I wanted to give to New York City and the world of the movie through sound.”

As someone who lives in the city that never sleeps, Tyburski has long been intrigued by the idea of how sound can alter a space. It was his interest in the topic that lead him to help dream up the idea of a profession that calls for identifying, and providing remedies to, sounds causing unwanted effects on people.

After deciding to turn their short film into a full-length feature, Tyburski and Nabors quickly began adapting the story and fleshing out the character of the house tuner. The character got an added dimension, Tyburski said, when acclaimed actor Peter Sarsgaard signed on for the part.

In Sarsgaard, known for his performances in films like “Garden State” and “Shattered Glass,” the filmmaker found a kindred spirit. Sarsgaard was also fascinated by the subject matter and, like Tyburski, did plenty of research before the cameras started rolling.

For instance, Tyburski said, Sarsgaard spent a lot of time becoming familiar with the props — such as analog sound recording devices and sophisticated microphones — to immerse himself in the role.

“I haven’t met any other house tuners — it’s entirely invented — but I think he could pull it off after getting into this character and making this movie,” he said.

Tyburski is hopeful the concept of the house tuner will also resonate with audiences. He wants viewers to leave the film more conscious of the sounds around them.

“I hope someone can watch this movie and, even if you don’t necessarily prescribe to the house tuning philosophy that the main character gives to his clients, that you can at least walk in a room and think about how our appliances and the things in our environment are sonically affecting us,” he said.

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