Filmmaker 5 with Marshall Tyler: SLOW PULSE
Short film SLOW PULSE follows lead character Bernard Brash as he learns to dance in his Los Angeles community. His resolve to learn and his determination to perform serve to inspire, all before the audience discovers the reason behind his seemingly futile pursuit. The result is a moving story of a father’s devotion and the transformative ability of love to turn heartbreak into hope.
With an intentional run time of 8 minutes and 46 seconds, SLOW PULSE commemorates the time of George Floyd’s murder, reminding us of the impact of loss on a family. SLOW PULSE illuminates the heart wrenching struggle to connect with our loved ones when circumstances keep us apart.
SLOW PULSE is the third Oscar® qualifying film by writer and director Marshall Tyler. Our Classic Couple Academy interview with talented storyteller and filmmaker Marshall Tyler follows.
Filmmaker 5.1: You dedicate SLOW PULSE “To the fathers who nurture our dreams.” How did this dedication inform the writing of this story?
“To the fathers who nurture our dreams” was truly important to me. In our society, black fathers are often seen as absentee when in fact there are plenty of black fathers who are involved in their child’s life. It was important to me as a father and as someone who had strong father in my life to honor these men and tell a story that shows the vulnerability that comes with parenthood.
When I dreamt of this story, I couldn’t imagine that the Zion Rupert who plays Jacob was being raised by a single father of 3 who does everything he can to support the dreams of his children. At our screening, Sylvester was so moved to see himself represented onscreen and that meant the world to me.
Filmmaker 5.2: How did you work with your collaborators to bring Los Angeles and a community to life in the film?
This is my 3rd film shot locally. Having grown up in Southern California, it’s really important for me to explore the side of LA that we don’t see onscreen. The hills and blocks where Bernard runs are where I came up with the idea when I was on one of my own walks. We filmed at with the Lula Washington Dance Theater which was incredible, there is so much history in that space and we were honored that they supported us through the film. Tamica Washington-Miller was not only our choreographer, she also played the instructor in the film and the dancers are from her class. My producers helped to find Zion who came through Debbie Allen Dance Academy. All of these places are all in my neighborhood and it allows us to have a true and authentic story.
Filmmaker 5.3: The run time of SLOW PULSE is 8 minutes and 46 seconds—a time commemorating the murder of George Floyd and the racial justice and equity movement that followed. What challenges and opportunities did this choice present in making the film?
The runtime was incredibly difficult to stay true to. It presented a challenge and an opportunity. It was hard to let certain shots go and to really focus on the story we wanted to tell. It was hard to let so much go, but in the end I believe that the choices we made—from the score to the cuts—really made the film. I wanted to keep the mystery alive so that you weren’t 100% sure of what was happening until the end.
My goal was to tell a story that honored the memory of George Floyd by seeing him through the lens of fatherhood. He was a man who was a loving father and we never talk about that part. The loss that this represents to his family is immense, a daughter will grow up without his presence. It’s a shame that most people lose sight of that fact when these kinds of murders happen—a son, father, husband, brother has been killed because their blackness was deemed a threat.
Filmmaker 5.4: You’ve had great success in making short films. What about this medium inspires you as a writer and filmmaker?
I love the challenge that comes with trying to create a short film. I have so many ideas for features and television shows but not every idea lends itself to a longer format. For me, the beauty of short filmmaking is that it is another way to express a story that I have been living with. I can only picture it as a short. Some people create shorts to make a feature but I truly believe in the medium of short filmmaking. It’s a true art that is harder to create than it seems because you have a short runway to tell an effective story.
Filmmaker 5.5: SLOW PULSE explores the theme of the power of artistic expression to heal. How might this film serve in that way? What do you want audiences to feel from their viewing experience of SLOW PULSE?
The world is in so much chaos and we are still healing from the pandemic among so many other things. This film really serves as a tool for people to realize that it is never too late to find a connection. I want people to feel hope, to feel that even during our darkest days there is hope, there is love and that there is an artist inside of us all.