A native New Yorker, William Tyler Smith began his studies at NYU focusing on political theory. After continuing studies in Spain and France, Smith decided to combine his intellectual interest in psychology, philosophy, politics and humanist thought with his great love of visual art. After having received critical acclaim for his experimental videos, A Voice From The Streets and Bari-Ellen, Can You Hear Me?, Smith joined UCLA’s
graduate filmmaking program where he was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards such as the Lew Wasserman Fellowship. Smith’s mentor at UCLA, Hungarian director, Gyula Gazdag, selected Smith to share camera operating duties on his recently completed documentary about Allen Ginsberg, A Poet On The Lower East Side.
While studying at UCLA, Smith wove ambitious visual tapestries with mature narrative themes in two short films, Lloyd, Elise & Jennifer and New York. Interior-Night. Both films have been internationally screened at festivals in Ankara, Bilbao, Bombay, Valencia, Malta, Naples, Czech
Republic, Barcelona and in the United States. With Lloyd, Elise & Jennifer, Smith was praised by “The Telegraph” in Calcutta, India for his “commendable restraint and marked control over his medium.” Vidyarthy Chatterjee said, “Smith’s films are a combination of video art, psychology and humanist thought.” The LA Village View called New York. Interior-Night “provocative” and “challenging;” the Daily Bruin, a “bold and visually stunning piece.”
Doors keyboardist, Ray Manzarek saw New York. Interior-Night, calling Smith “extremely talented” with “a strong artistic and poetic vision”, which led to Smith’s first feature documentary about the artistic fusion of Manzarek and beat poet, Michael McClure. Blurring the lines between documentary, performance and narrative forms, The Third Mind blends the creative forces of the celebrated poet’s words, the musician’s improvisational jazz-inspired riffs and Smith’s dynamic visual style.
The Third Mind had its successful international premiere at the 1996 Venice Film Festival in Italy, its US premiere at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, was broadcast on the Sundance Channel in November 1997 and was been picked up for distribution by Mystic Fire Video (Winstar). Kevin Thomas, film critic for the Los Angeles Times said of The Third Mind, “an incisive and engaging exploration…. The Third Mind has lots
of energy and style and it is an altogether stimulating work.”
Smith is currently working on a documentary about A. S. Neill’s Summerhill School in England.