Six Award-Winning Seconds Worth Watching Again and Again

Innovative Filmmaker Albert Birney takes Vine to new levels.

Albert Birney | Innovative Filmmaker

If it were true that any gorilla could make a video, Sylvio Bernardi probably would not have become a star. Sylvio, the subject of the (very) short film “Sylvio Let’s Go,” became an instant celebrity when his creator, Albert Birney, won a first-place award in the Tribeca Film Festival #6SECFILMS Competition in April. The contest judged works made with Vine, a smart phone app that allows users to create six-second video loops, then tweet them to followers. In eight short shots, “Let’s Go” shows Sylvio—Birney in a gorilla suit, wearing a surf T-shirt and white Wayfarer shades—knocking his favorite mug to the floor, typing on his laptop, then signing copies of his “A Dream Fractured: 12 Steps to Getting Over the Loss of Your Favorite Mug, A Journey into Selfhood” in a bookstore. A former film major at Syracuse University, Birney, who lives in Wilmington, has worked in film and video production since 2000, making commercial pieces, dozens of music videos for prominent artists such as Chuck Prophet and Dr. Dog, as well as his own groups, The Spinto Band—once hailed as The Next Big Thing from Delaware—and a side project, Teen Men. Birney discovered Vine in early 2013. Sylvio, based on a character from a friend’s novel-in-progress, was born the following April. Since then, Birney has made more than 600 Sylvio shorts, garnering a following of Vine users. “Film, of all art forms, combines a bit of everything to create a new thing that is closer to a dream than anything else,” Birney says. “In a theater, everyone enters the dream. It can seem so real, which is why so many people get so emotionally involved.” So while he continues with commercial jobs and music vids, “what I’m most interested in is developing Sylvio. He doesn’t even seem like a character to me anymore. His personality just keeps growing.” See him at vine.co/SimplySylvio.

 

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