Tyler Trumbo is a Virginia-based documentary filmmaker and editor born and raised along the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia.

His work has been featured on The Atlantic and shown around the world including screenings at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Slamdance Film Festival, and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Currently working with Fourth Line Films in Richmond, VA, he holds an M.F.A in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University and has been an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University.

What is your interest at the intersection of sciences and film?

My approach is founded first and foremost on the personal/individual perspective. What interests me most about scientific issues, about anything really, is how forces impact the individual human experience. With that in mind, I place my guiding compass within the perspectives of my subjects, and allow their experiences and outlooks to help shape the focus of the film. The style and approach of the film come from my personal and artistic responses to a topic, and the content is guided by research and insights from the subjects.

Each situation and individual is different, but the first step for me is choosing a topic and person that I am fascinated to know more about. That honesty and curiosity goes a long way in connecting with someone when they realize that you are genuinely interested in their story, in their perspective. And research helps.

The balancing act between personal angles and the broader message is anchored in finding a theme, and the theme changes throughout the process of making a film sometimes. The Sound Inside began as a personal challenge to use sound design and silence as a storytelling device, assuming that hearing loss would ultimately be about loneliness and isolation. Yet, my subjects turned out to be far from isolated. They were actively involved in lip reading classes that kept them connected to the world. Lip reading came to symbolize a broader theme of perseverance within the film. So their perspectives shifted the balance and direction of the project completely. That’s what I love about documentary work. It’s constantly surprising and challenging.


Stanford, California, United States

Selected Works