L Z L o s t P r e s s :
Tyler Hickman describes the experiences of a tail gunner on a bomber during World War II. He gestures with his hands, describing the claustrophobic conditions in which the soldier, a friend of his grandfather (who also served) fought: “In this little bubble beneath the plane, he could have been shot at from any angle at any time.” We both shudder a little imagining it. “I don’t know if I could have done it. But he felt he was just doing his job.”
Tyler’s curiosity drove him to learn more, ask questions and excavate the past. Both his grandfathers served during WWII: one as an anti-aircraft gunner in North Africa, the other as a navigator on a bomber. “They always spoke of their service with such reverence,” Tyler says about his conversations with his late grandfathers. “It was about having the back of the soldier next to you, of helping one another. On both sides, people were asked to do things they didn’t want to do. I wanted to bring that humanity to a film.”
During his sophomore year at UNCSA, Tyler directed a fictional narrative short film inspired by a true story of a paratrooper who lands behind enemy lines and faces grave danger as he tries to find his way back to the Allies before being caught. Filmed over a weekend, Tyler found the limitations of filmmaking within a short span of time and with limited resources creatively inspiring. “The whole process had a guerrilla quality to it. Everyone involved cared so much about this film.” Passion and hard work paid off: “LZ Lost”, will premier at the RiverRun International Film Festival in April. This is Tyler’s first film festival entry.
As the granddaughter of a World War II veteran myself, I ask Tyler what he feels he learned from his grandfathers: “No issue is black and white,” he says. Even in a war with a clear moral compass, as World War II seemed to have, infinite shades of gray complicated the choices made by soldiers. “Listening was essential,” Tyler continues. “They had to pay attention to what was happening around them, all the time. Then they brought back what they learned and applied it to their every days lives here at home. Above all else, they taught me to be a good human being. It’s the most important thing.” -Cyndi Briggs
S l i p p i n g A w a y R e v i e w :
“Tyler Hickman’s Slipping Away from CFCC combines art film with The Twilight Zone. (It’s in 3:30 p.m. Friday block at City Stage.) With a minimum of dialogue the film follows a young man who withdraws to his room and won’t come out, scribbling obsessively in his notebook, ignoring pleas and phone calls from his girlfriend, buddy and mom. Watch carefully, or you’ll miss the point of the Rod Serling ending. Phil Bruenn, who pops up in a lot of CFCC films, gives a Johnny Depp-as-Edward-Scissorhands twist to his portrayal of the tortured protagonist.” – Ben Steelman