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Ty Brueilly stands in front of the iconic Chinese Theatre in Hollwyood for a showing of his movie ‘Sweeney Ty.’ 

Ty goes to Hollywood

Janet Imrick

Randolph Hub


Ty Brueilly created "A Night in Charlotte with Sweeney Ty" after he watched Tim Burton's 2007 film adaptation of the Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim.


"I wasn't really into musicals," Brueilly said. "And then I saw that, and it kind of spun me in the direction where I wanted to pull from that. And having already done hip hop music for close to 10 years."


He used it as the basis for a 17-minute film he recorded at a theater in Charlotte, featuring music he wrote based on Sondheim and Burton's work, and incorporating aspects of his own life growing up in Asheboro.


It was shown in Hollywood at the Golden State Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Feb. 24.


Brueilly, a hip hop artist, has experimented with moviemaking since a silent film he premiered at the Sunset Theatre in 2017. This is the first time he's attended a film festival in-person since the shift to virtual events due to COVID-19.


He chose Charlotte for "Sweeney Ty" because of its connections to his early musical career, although he says he would like to bring it to the Sunset Theatre one day. Even though it is a film, he wanted the audience to feel as if they were watching a recorded performance.


"You can see some of the other cameramen in the crowd," he says. "You can see some of the crowd; you can hear them here and there."


The costuming was kept simple. They used identifiable clothing items like hats instead of a full Victorian wardrobe. His cast and crew were made up of other hip hop artists and videographers he'd worked with in the past, as well as make-up artist Megan Grant, who had worked on Rob Zombie's "House of 1000 Corpses." The project cost around $1,500.


Brueilly published the music for "Sweeney Ty" on Myspace in 2008, shortly after the release of the Burton film. He left the album alone as Facebook took prominence over Myspace. "That project died; it was like an orphan. Because you know, an artist has to kind of die sometimes and come back to it."


His opportunity to come back to it was in 2016, after one of his albums won Hip Hop Album of the Year at the Lincoln Center in New York. Looking for a good, inexpensive follow-up project, he decided to rework the music he had.


"I kept on going back to Sweeney Ty and was like, 'It's such a good project. Why haven't I done anything with it? And with winning that award, I don't have another album that I can drop this year. Let's just re-release it.'"


He says the timing worked in his favor when it came to getting it into a festival. "We submitted it right before Christmas Eve to several film festivals. Fast forward just a little bit over a month later, it just happened to be at the end of their acceptance period."


A weekend trip to a Los Angeles theater is potentially a door to other opportunities, Brueilly said. Just like traveling the film festival circuit in 2017, he's learning what goes on behind-the-scenes and building connections.


"Just seeing the life there and figuring it out," Brueilly said. "That's where I would really want to go to work out some different avenues on expanding my art."