Artist Explores Father’s Legacy Through the Porn Stash He Left Behind

Tapes that Charlie Tyrell found after his dad's death were strangely helpful in grappling with the loss.

"My Dead Dad's Porno Tapes" was directed by Charlie Tyrell. (YouTube)

When his father died, Charlie Tyrell realized that he didn’t know that much about his father. As a young adult, Tyrell had been waiting for “the strange distance he felt between them to close,” he explains in his short documentary for The Atlantic. 

Charlie thought that maybe the things that his father, Greg, left behind would reveal more about what his dad was like when he was alive.

“I had this lingering impulse to make a film about him that looked at our relationship. Then, I found [his] porno tapes,” Tyrell told The Atlantic. “I thought it would be an absurd and funny way to approach the subject. It’s hard to talk about a deceased loved one without sucking all of the air out of the room. So, by approaching it with a sense of humor, I found a way to invite people into the story in a less weighty way.”

The short documentary uses scarpbook animation, narration, interviews with Tyrell’s family and footage of places that were meaningful to his father. Tyrell ultimately did discover more about who his dad was while making the film.

“It was emotionally draining at times,” Tyrell said. “This was me exposing mine and my family’s relationship with our dad. But the process of looking at our relationship and shaping it into a story for a film allowed me to articulate my thoughts and feelings in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

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