Empty Under Sky, was made in response to Robin Starbuck receiving the Middlebury New Filmmakers Award for Best Music with Film Integration. It was made in collaboration with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra composer in residence, Matt LaRocca, and it screened with the orchestra during their fall 2018 performance series.
This film is one of several short pieces Robin Starbuck made from her film work in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. The text used in this film was derived from fragments of the ancient Mayan sacred text known as the Popol Vuh (or ilb’al). All film footage for this project was shot on location in Chiapas, Mexico. Animations were constructed from graffiti and murals painted by anonymous artists in the streets of Chiapas and animated by Starbuck in her New York studio.
Matt LaRocca’s inspiration for the music lay in the traditions of Mayan music and the vivid imagery of the film. The score is based on the scales, harmonies, and instruments used by early Mayans, though reimagined for a modern orchestra and crafted to accentuate the striking visuals of Chiapas and the juxtaposition of modern and ancient worlds.