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Work Samples

Sylvio

2 minute trailer for 80 minute film, 2017

Peals - Trillium (Official Music Video)

(2018, 5:14) We played the song for 5th-graders. They wrote while listening. We filmed their stories.

The Night Fish

The Night Fish (2018, 9 min) - A film about the thoughts that keep me up at night

Bone Gym

(2017, 3 minutes) Bones provide structure and support for the body, but did you know they're also a great workout tool? Don't believe me? Come on down to the bone gym - the results speak for themselves!

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About Albert

Baltimore City

Albert Birney is a Baltimore based filmmaker. He has directed two feature films, The Beast Pageant (2011) and Sylvio (2017) which The New Yorker named one of the ten-best films of 2017. His films have premiered at SXSW, the Maryland Film Festival and Slamdance. He graduated with a B.F.A. in Film from Syracuse University. 

Sylvio

80 minutes, 2017

SYLVIO is a feature film about a small town gorilla who is stuck in his job at a debt collection agency. Deep down he just wants to express himself with his hand puppet, Herbert Herpels, and his puppet show that highlights the quiet moments of life. He accidentally joins a local TV program and a series of on-air mishaps threaten to shatter his identity, sending him on a journey of self-discovery.

SYLVIO was filmed entirely in Baltimore and funded from a Kickstarter campaign. The film premiered at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival and went on to play over 20 festivals worldwide.

“This charming lo-fi indie is attuned to its own eccentric wavelength, equal parts absurd and poignant. A cult following for this bizarro effort seems quite possible." -Variety

"Exquisite yet uproarious. Sylvio is, at heart, a tale of independent artistry and its snares. The result is a generous, achingly tender comedy. -New Yorker

Trillium

Peals (William of Future Islands + Bruce of Double Dagger) and director Albert Birney played “Trillium” for students at the Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School and asked them to write stories while listening to the song.

There was only one constraint: each story begins with “The woman in the room…”

Trillium brings the kids’ stories to life. The woman in the room transforms into a dinosaur and chats with a wise talking pelican. Leather-jacket-wearing bad boys, “weird alien cat-things,” peaceful apples, and money-shooting water guns all make noteworthy appearances. The video includes scenes from 17 stories written by the students, along with footage of them writing in the classroom.

To capture the 5th graders’ imaginative worlds, director Albert Birney took a purposefully lo-fi approach to the props and sets. Some costumes and props were modeled on students’ drawings, including the paper maché head of Moophette, the “weird alien cat thing.” Similarly, the visual effects were created mainly in-camera, using a mix of silent-movie-style jumpcuts and multi-layered projections. The interplay between multiple projections, minimal set design, and a black and white color palette sets a dreamlike stage for the video.

The Night Fish

The Night Fish (2018, 9 min) I found an old book of beautiful fish illustrations. I wanted to make a short film about the thoughts that keep me up at night.

Bone Gym

Bone Gym (2017, 3 minutes) Made with a xerox machine, a sharpie marker and white out, BONE GYM is a short video I made when I was feeling down about the news.

  • Bone Gym

    (2017, 3 minutes) Bones provide structure and support for the body, but did you know they're also a great workout tool? Don't believe me? Come on down to the bone gym - the results speak for themselves!

Buzzer

Buzzer (2018, 8 min 40 sec) I found a dead fly under my table. I put it in a ziplock bag. Four years later I found the bag in a desk drawer and made this film.

"An ordinary fly just trying to live a simple life."

Music by Jimmy Joe Roche and Alexander Borodin

It Feels Like Forever

It Feels Like Forever (2018, 18 min) It's Christmas Eve and Chamfort is all alone in his big house by the ocean. But he's not lonely. There's plenty of things to do to keep busy, an endless amount of things to do to pass the time. Would you like a tour?

Written and Directed by Albert Birney
Starring Ben O'Brien
Produced by Marnie Ellen Hertzler
Sound by Chester Endersby Gwazda

The Beast Pageant

The Beast Pageant (2010, 74 minutes)

A feature film about Abraham. Abraham lives deep in the heart of an idustrial wasteland. His only companion is a giant machine. Inside the machine is a man and a woman who take care of Abraham's every need. Abraham drifts through life until a tiny singing cowboy bursts from his stomach and leads him into the wild.

Filmed on a 16mm Bolex camera rescued from a dumpster behind Johns Hopkins Hospital. All sets made from paper mache and cardboard.

Official selection 2011:
Slamdance Film Festival
Maryland Film Festival
San Francisco Independent Film Festival
Detroit Independent Film Festival
Boston Underground Film Festival
Byron Bay Film Festival
Buffalo Niagara Film Festival
Plastic Paper Film Festival
Santa Cruz Film Festival
Sonoma International Film Festival
Lund International Fantastic Film Festival
Arizona Underground Film Festival

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