I've been making experimental short films since 2003, first on Super-8 and now mostly on video. There was probably always an aspiring movie-maker in me. I started with my mom's super-8 camera as a kid. But the filmmaker friends I made at NYU, along with writing about film for several years, also fed my desire to pick up a camera.
Portland in the 2000s had a vibrant experimental filmmaking community, and I owe a lot to people like Matt McCormick, Andy Blubaugh and Rob Tyler for inspiring and helping me to get started. I've also been influenced by Holland's Gerard Holthuis, New York's Peter Hutton, Chicago's Animal Charm, and Belgium's Chantal Ackerman as well as random stuff like the serene wordless montages they used to play at the end of Sunday Morning on CBS when I was a kid in the 1970s and '80s, or Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi.
I don't make narrative films; I've seen thousands of them and feel no compulsion toward that kind of storytelling. In fact, I never set out to make a film. Instead, I like capturing small details and moments while traveling or exploring, never knowing what I'll shoot until I see it, and then arranging the shots in a way that, if this were words, would seek to be poetry more than prose. But putting it that way also sounds more pretentious than I intend. These are just little three and four-minute video travelogues.
The works are screened in public every now and then, most recently a retrospective called "The Momentary Sublime" at the Newport Visual Arts Center in Newport, Oregon in 2018. In 2007, a solo retrospective called "Brian Libby: Travelogues" was held at the Portland Art Museum's Northwest Film Center.
Reviewer Marc Mohan of The Oregonian wrote in a review of that show, "Brian Libby definitely has an eye for images. His short films manage to meld the quotidian and the sublime, or rather perhaps expose the one within the other." Mike Thelin of Willamette Week wrote, "Libby does his best work charting the mundane, such as the quiet industrial landscape of Portland's Central Eastside or the flight patterns of a resident bird flock at the Darigold Creamery...The montage of images makes for an engaging exploration of physical space."
Ned Howard, Eric Schopmeyer and Elias Foley have been frequent music collaborators on many of these films, and I've also been fortunate to use (with permission) the work of French musician Colleen and Washington DC's Beauty Pill.
Takeoffs and Landings (2019)
A 2019 travel diary chronicling departure from Portland and eventual return, with music by Eric Schopmeyer
Rhythm of the Flight (2019)
A collage, shot in Portland and San Diego and the airspace in between, about the lingering presence of places, travel modes and their rhythms.
Observing a series of kites flying over the beach in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Music by Mirror Dream.
City of Bridges (2018)
A collage of images shot on a Willamette River boat ride in Portland. Music by Marysville Elementary School Marimba.
Pathways and Clouds (2017)
A series of timelapse shots taken during my 2017 travels. The music was captured live at St. Peters church in Vienna.
Vashon Ferry (2014)
Chronicling a ferry ride from Tacoma, Washington to Vashon Island and back. Music by Colleen.
So Calm Me (2012)
A portrait of Snoqualmie Falls in Washington, best known from David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Music by Beauty Pill.
Entering The Atmosphere (2011)
Screened at the 2012 Portland International Film Festival, the film combines super-8 home movies and astronomical images to compare the concepts of birth and arrival. Music by Beauty Pill.
Winner of a Judge's Award at the Northwest Filmmakers Festival, the film weaves together multiple nighttime crossings of Portland's Fremont Bridge. Music by Beauty Pill. Also screened in 2010 at Seattle's NW Film Forum.
Also from 2010: Ocean Way, Trail of Three Cities, Pasadena Dreaming
Seagulls and Waves (2009)
Screened at the 2010 Portland International Film Festival, the film observes seagulls and other birds along the Pacific coast at Canon Beach, Oregon. Music by Colleen, courtesy of The Leaf Label.
The Falls (2009)
Winner of a Judge's Award at the Northwest Filmmakers Festival (given by Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan), the film is a portrait of Multnomah Falls in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge.
Across the Sound (2009)
A ferry ride across Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca between Victoria, British Columbia and Seattle, Washington. Music by Colleen, courtesy of The Leaf Label. Screened at the 2009 Portland International Film Festival.
Also from 2009: Swift Landing, Washington-Monroe, Snow Day, Chinese Junket, Shinkanzen Corridor
Kyoto Diner (2008)
Clandestinely observing the goings-on inside a Kyoto, Japan restaurant. Screened at the Northwest Filmmakers Festival.
Also from 2008: Forbidden City Rewind, Battersea to Chelsea, Range of Motion, Web Swingers, Nozomi Express, Ginza To Shibuya
Creamery Birds (2007)
Winner of a Judge's Award at the 2007 Northwest Filmmakers Festival, the film chronicles a populations continually circling a creamery in Portland, Oregon (which has since been demolished).
Tianjin Highway (2007)
A view of barges on the Columbia River at Astoria, Oregon. Audio by Ned Howard. Screened at the 2012 Peripheral Produce 15th anniversary show.
Route 23 (2007)
Time-lapse footage of a trip through the heart of London on a double-decker bus. Music by Eric Schopmeyer. Screened at the 2007 Portland International Film Festival and in 2008 at Exploding Cinema in London.
Hello Nassau (2007)
Shot on super-8, the film documents a cruise-ship voyage to Nassau, Bahamas and a small nearby island. Music by Elias Foley. Screened at the 2008 Five Minute Film Fest in Denver.
Roppongi Crossing (2007)
A stream-of-consciousness portrait of taxi drivers waiting at a stoplight in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. Chosen for the Journal of Short Film's Volume 11 DVD compilation (May 2008).
Above & Beyond (2007)
A chronicle of the bridges, rotating signs, riverfront and tree cover of Portland. Music by Elias Foley. Screened at the 2008 Five Minute Film Fest in Denver.
Demolition of the Rosefriend Apartments (2007)
This film documents the destruction of the Rosefriend Apartments building in Portland, Oregon by its owner, First Christian Church, to make way for a a parking garage and condo tower. Screened at the 2008 Portland International Film Festival.
Portland Project #1 (2007, co-directed with Ned Howard)
Isle of Staten (2007)
Go For That (2007)
Golden Bends (2006)
Avenue & Interstate (2006)
Tsukiji 5AM (2005)
Super Terrific Shinjuku (2005)
Kerra Skola (2004)
Western Travelogue #2 (2003)
Western Travelogue #1 (2003)