Tyler A Chase of L’ORAGE Productions: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker

An Interview With Edward Sylvan


I wish I had known how long and how much determination it takes to finish a proper documentary.

I wish I had known that standing up for what is right never gets easier and can be pretty lonely.

I wish someone could have told me a sure path to follow but then it wouldn’t have been so fun.

As a part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing filmmaker/producer, Tyler A. Chase. A CASTLE IN BROOKLYN, KING ARTHUR, Feature documentary film is OFFICIAL SELECTION OF THE 12th New Media Film Festival®

Tyler A. Chase, auteur/filmmaker, is the creator of the documentary feature film, A Castle in Brooklyn, King Arthur, recent OFFICIAL SELECTION of the 12th New Media Film Festival®

Tyler founded the production company, L’ORAGE while attending New York University Film School. As a student, Tyler created two short, narrative 16mm films, Urban Inquisition (a lesbian couple meets with domestic terror) and Fowl Play with Jack Mulcahy (The Brothers McMullen) (dark comedy about animal rights activism) that screened at the Tribeca Screening Room, the Cantor Screening Room, New York International Independent Film Festival, Ocularis Open Eye and The Pioneer Theater.

In 2013 Tyler completed the award-winning, short narrative psychodrama, Animal Crackers (Pentimenti) (Who is Sylvie? Things are not always as they seem). Chase completed the short documentary film, Sweet Soul in Exile in late 2018 (an odic encapsulation of the last day of sculptor Deborah Masters as she is evicted from her loft of 20 years at 475 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn.) Awards for Sweet Soul in Exile included the Audience Award at the Berlin Short Film Festival 2020.

Tyler completed her first award-winning feature documentary, A Castle in Brooklyn — King Arthur in January 2020. A Castle in Brooklyn, King Arthur, narrated by Golden Globe award-winning actor, Brian Cox, is a modern fairy tale about Arthur Wood and his wife Cynthia who bought a derelict building and turned it into the iconic Broken Angel building in Brooklyn, NY. Twenty-eight years later, they are under siege. The feature documentary, Blues for 475, (the six-year documentary of the orchestrated forced evacuation of three hundred artist families suddenly made homeless and how they got their lives back) is awaiting the completion of post-production. The hybrid feature documentary, Touched by Duse with Ellen Burstyn, Paul Sorvino, Richard Thomas, Elizabeth Ashley and others is pending a shoot in Italy in order to complete its theatrical cut. (The film is a journey of two friends to discover the persistent totem that Eleonora Duse, the mother of modern acting, is.) Clips from Touched by Duse were screened as work in progress at the National Arts Club, Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at NYU Tish School of the Arts, William Esper Studio, The Dante Alighieri Society in Cambridge and the Players Club. The feature documentary, Let Them Eat Geese, is in development/production. (It is about the slaughters of migratory Canada Geese and Mute Swans in the United States and under what circumstances a species can fall out of favor.)

Tyler was accredited by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership to participate in the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights Violations in Geneva, Switzerland and to screen portions of footage from two of her films about preemptive forced eviction as testimony. Soon after, Tyler was part of a review discussion at the White House feedback event. Her work also screened as testimony at the UPR of Human Rights at Columbia University for representatives of the Obama administration.

Memberships include: NYWIFT, IDA, D-Word, SDC, SAG/AFTRA, The National Arts Club

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?

I was a surprise, born ten years after my big sister and twenty years after my oldest brother. My dad was a veterinarian and my mother a school teacher in Canada. I was a baby immigrant from Canada who was brought to Rhode Island. Each of my four siblings are very unique individuals who formed our musical soirees or as they called it, Jam Sessions. Home was a noisy and high-energy place with jam sessions every weekend, sometimes during the week and people of all backgrounds dropping by, many with instruments to join in. It was a place of solace and safety in difficult times. Our parents encouraged us to speak our minds and to discuss and debate. Our family were members of the NAACP and my mother was a musical director for fundraising activities. I was a tiny girl but remember a lot of hatred toward people of color. It was hard for our large family. My mother could not teach in the USA despite her experience and scholastic background nor could my father ever obtain his own veterinarian practice. It was a bit rough in elementary schools. I was bullied and beat up and we moved about four times before I hit 7th grade. Being the youngest in the family, I spent a lot of time alone and this developed my curiosity and imagination.

We moved back to Canada when I was nine and I left home at eighteen. I got into jazz dance, acting and directing. I attended Concordia University in Montreal where I graduated cum laude and also College Marie Victorin. After doing theater for a while in Montreal I came to New York. I would have to write a book… What’s important is now.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

It was time to reinvent myself. I was writing, directing and producing in the Off-Off-Broadway scene doing new plays and being a guest director with theaters. One night after the curtain call, a couple of my actresses commented that the play should be a movie because there were so many different locations and scenes and we discussed the restraints of the theater. Theater was slim pickings for women. What always made me sad was that it was such a hassle to film the plays and once the play had its run it was over, just a memory. I switched gears and I went to New York University Film program and in that time, wrote produced and directed two short narrative films. Later I was introduced to the situation at the Broken Angel building and felt so strongly about it that I decided to do a documentary feature. I knew that because of the nature of the project it would take years but I felt it was worth it. In the meantime, I completed two more short films.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?

At one point in utter frustration over what seemed to be bullying of Arthur Wood at the Broken Angel building and the people at 475 Kent, I got the bright idea that something could be done because their human rights were being violated. I decided to cold-call someone who I thought could help, Human Rights Award Winner, Shulamith Koenig. To my surprise, she answered the call and we hit if off right away and continue our friendship until today. Shula, as she likes to be called, is a recipient of the 2003 UN Prize in the field of Human rights* (An award given to five people every five years 1966. She is one of five Americans to have received it who are: Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, and James Grant.

Shula agreed to be in my film and I think that if I had hesitated in calling her I would never have learned so much. She taught me that human rights as a way of life. She was instrumental in having me accredited to participate in the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights Violations of the USA at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. I was able to screen some of my work as testimony about forced eviction and participate on a panel. I was disillusioned when I learned that our country has not ratified many of the items of the Declaration of Human Rights including CEDAW.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I have had the great fortune of meeting so many interesting people but that was a characteristic of New York when I came here, especially as an artist. It was brimming with action, ideas and individuality. If you see my documentaries you will meet some of the very interesting people that I continue to meet. Working with actor, Brian Cox as the Narrator for the completion of A Castle in Brooklyn — King Arthur…that was pure serendipity. I don’t want to leave anyone out by not mentioning them because I treasure the people in my life so let me tell you about something that had a deep impact on me when I was just beginning as a filmmaker.

There was a teacher at NYU Film Program named Thierry Pathe. He was an amazing cinematographer and took me under his wing teaching me so much. He fostered my independence as a filmmaker and encouraged me. It was all going so well and then he got lung cancer and we realized we wouldn’t be making movies together. I went to visit him and would bring him food to cook at his home. One day it was apparent that it was the last time I would get to see him. The chemo hadn’t helped and he was going fast. When he finally opened his eyes he said softly; “Tyler, is everything loaded? Is the Arriflex and lighting equipment all set? Make sure that we have enough film stock. 5 am AOP?” I answered, “yes Thierry, it’s all ready to go… 5 am, ass on pavement.” That was the last thing we ever said to each other.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Norma Springford was my first mentor. She was a head honcho and teacher of theater directing at Concordia University where I was a BFA student. She fought for me to be able to do a double major at University and I got special permission to do so. We spoke for hours about her life. I was fascinated. This tiny little old lady had helped establish Actors Equity in Canada and had gone to the North Pole. I probably would have dropped out of University had it not been for her. After I graduated we discussed whether I should go to Toronto or New York. Quebec had very little work in the arts for English-speaking people and although I’m French Canadian I was raised as a child in the USA so French was not my first language. There was a big issue about language, actual hatred that people from other countries are unaware of. She encouraged me to come to New York because she said I should be in the best environment for opportunity in the arts. She helped me to gain entrance into a top acting school at the time. We spoke and wrote to each other for years until she passed away which was only the second year I was here. I will never forget her.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“To Thine Own Self Be True” — William Shakespeare

It means trust yourself, follow your heart and have a standalone spirit.

I am very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I doubt if you can find a city more diverse than New York and it is why I came here but it wasn’t always reflected in movies. If you take a ride on a New York subway you are in the sea of humanity. It is how the city has evolved. Art to me is an expression of our own reality, a mirror of the human condition. I never really lived in a homogenous environment so I don’t know what that is but also I never felt represented in films I saw. It is important to have a wide array of stories and diversity in films and TV so that people are less alienated and feel less alone in their own life experiences. It is also our responsibility to mirror reality without judgment and to do so with empathy, not to create caricatures of people or situations.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

At the moment I am making documentaries and I find all of my projects exciting. I’m not doing it for any reason but because I’m compelled to. It’s a beautiful thing when someone allows you to be part of their experience so you can make a movie about what is going on in their life. It’s risky for them and yet I find that people who I’ve met going through their own hell are so incredibly trusting and compassionate. The feature documentary, Blues for 475Kent, features great artists like jazz pianist, Connie Crothers and sculptor, Deborah Masters. These people became my friends and have enriched my life especially as the filming was at times going on in the course of events for years. The people and truths that you learn while researching, how the story shifts to a new reality and takes its own direction is all exciting. I spent so much time with visionary artist, Arthur Wood, who created the Broken Angel building and experienced so many things with him as the documentarian… as the one responsible for the telling of his story. Things never turn out as you imagine. Nothing does in this kind of work and so you learn to roll with it.

Which aspect of your work makes you most proud? Can you explain or give a story?

Touching peoples’ lives. When someone has a strong reaction to the work I do.

Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

In retrospect, I wish I had known how hard it would be to raise money for projects. I didn’t know that even Agnes Varda had trouble raising money for her work.

I wish I had known how long and how much determination it takes to finish a proper documentary.

I wish I had known that standing up for what is right never gets easier and can be pretty lonely.

I wish I had known that I would be constantly keeping up with cameras and equipment in order to compete.

I wish someone could have told me a sure path to follow but then it wouldn’t have been so fun.

When you create a film, which stakeholders have the greatest impact on the artistic and cinematic choices you make? Is it the viewers, the critics, the financiers, or your own personal artistic vision? Can you share a story with us or give an example about what you mean?

This brings us back to Shakespeare, To Thine Own Self Be True. My cinematic choices are based on my personal artistic vision and how to effectively interpret that vision to tell the story so that those who experience the work are in the moment and in the story.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

A housing movement. Housing as a human right. I firmly believe that 90% of the world's issues could be solved were it not for the ongoing rampant displacement going on by greed and lack of foresight. The world would prosper if all people, not just some, had secure and adequate shelter.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

Cate Blanchette, because she’s brilliant… probably one of the greatest actresses of our time. I would like to see if she is comfortable in her skin, if she has to wear a persona to the outside world or if she is brave enough to be herself always. I would be curious to know what her dream project is.

How can our readers further follow you online?

https://www.lorage.com and we are fiscally sponsored so donations for our upcoming work can be made at Fractured Atlas https://fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/l-orage

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.

In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.

Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.

With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.

At Sycamore Entertainment he specializes in print and advertising financing, marketing, acquisition and worldwide distribution of quality feature-length motion pictures, and is concerned with acquiring, producing and promoting films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subject matter which will also include nonviolent storytelling.

Also in 2020, Sylvan launched SEGI TV, a free OTT streaming network built on the pillars of equality, sustainability and community which is scheduled to reach 100 million U.S household televisions and 200 million mobile devices across Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV and others.

He sits on the Board of Directors of Uplay Canada, (United Public Leadership Academy for Youth), which prepares youth to be citizen leaders and provides opportunities for Canadian high school basketball players to advance to Division 1 schools as well as the NBA.

A former competitive go kart racer with Checkered Flag Racing Ltd, he also enjoys traveling to exotic locales. Sylvan resides in Vancouver and has two adult daughters. Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc is headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Los Angeles and Vancouver.



Edward Sylvan CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group
Authority Magazine

Edward Sylvan is the Founder and CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc. He is committed to telling stories that speak to equity, diversity, and inclusion.