May 20, 2012

Reason to Believe

Ryan Mackfall is a crafty fella, born in the beautiful coastal town of Cornwall, UK. Ryan has established himself as a young and highly respected Cinematographer/Director. As a kid growing up in Cornwall, Ryan first realized his attraction towards films through his love of releases that were meant for slightly older audiences. The films often housed narratives that he didn't necessarily understand, but the cinematography more than made up for it. His love of the composition of certain shots gave him a real buzz, which at his young age he didn't really attribute towards any career aspirations, just merely 'enjoying films'.

Ryan later under-took studies at the University College of Falmouth, one of UK's most celebrated art institutions, and graduated with a BA honors degree in film. In late 2005 after having worked as a freelance artists he founded Crashburn Media. A cutting edge production facility with some of UK's finest creative people. Ryan's work has mainly being associated to music covering areas such as; video, documentary, brand and viral media along with extended branches into photography. Ryan's directional ability to draw his audience through his film subjects provoke desire and thought. His film list is long and outstanding. Having documented some of UK and USA's leading PUNK/Indie alternative artists, along with many international music festivals. When not working behind the lens, this English POM is an avid surfer and a confessed film geek.

R. You have been working in the film industry for quite sometime, when did you first pick up the camera and what was your first video/film? Do you still have it?
RM. I think the first time I picked up a camera was when my parents purchased one of those old Sony video8 cameras. They got it for filming various family things, recording memories etc, and I found it an extremely interesting piece of gear. By nature as a kid I found anything technological interesting. This piece of gear was no exception. I was fascinated you could push a button and zoom into things far off.

I would later go to Indonesia with my friends surfing, and I wanted to shoot a documentary. The budget  was non existent but I got a hold of a small Sony handycam off eBay and then purchased this old Sony video8 water housing and modified it so we could shoot the surfing. I got some wooden blocks, wrapped rubber around them and basically wedged the camera in there.  We just had to leave the camera shooting wide, and then we would press record, shut the housing, get on the boat, get to the reef, jump in and film. So crude but so perfect. We had a complete blast and it's a video I look back on with fond memories because it was my first real achievement. I worked with an old friend on the titles and we really made something great we were proud of. While I was shooting it I remember how some of the guys were kinda cagey about it. They wouldn't really cooperate. Then we premiered it at my 21st birthday and they were all like "man you did a great job" and that was my first real feeling of accomplishment. The first time I took an idea and made it real in a more serious sense. The journey began on that day I guess. It's on my vimeo if anyone has the time to waste viewing it. It's gotta be watched tongue and cheek though! Surf rats doing there thing in Indonesia!

R. The majority of your work is music related, was this a conscious choice or how did you fall into this genre?
RM. I think it was a conscious choice for me that felt right. I understood that many of the adverts and films I loved sometimes came from people who made music videos. There was such a lack in the UK of accessible video media for bands (on a smaller scale). I saw that production values for big bands were great, and thought, 'why don't we bring this to the smaller guys'. I saw the difference between successful bands and less successful ones, 'The brand'. If a band could be promoted via excellence than the 'kids' would want a piece of it, and that essentially is what the music industry is about in it's rawest form.

Since the inception of Crashburn Media we primarily have concentrated on live promo stuff and a bit of documentary. I remember the first real time we approached a UK hardcore band to do a DVD. The band was Shaped By Fate. One of the guys on the band 'Richey Beckett' saw the idea I had and agreed it was what he wanted for his band. Rich is an extremely talented artist and is currently on the up in a big way now with people like Mondo and other sites that celebrate great art, so he had that creative flare. We hit the road and filmed the documentary and there was a great vibe, everyone working towards a product. Finally it all came together via the great creative team we had. After that it was more widely known that I could 'produce the goods' and it was a turning point for me and other bands.

We moved onto music videos and I've been directing them for while. I feel like it's been a transformation for me as the challengers have risen and the progression has been great. Me and my guys have all evolved. When I started I was a videographer, and over the last 1.5 years I moved away from that term as I've felt I'm a director. Tom Griffiths, one of my photographers and video assistant has progressed to be my 'director of photography'. Josh Mansfield has come into the team a bit later and is my location manager etc. The team is growing up. We're moving onto more singular roles. I think the DSLR evolution helped that come about. Now we're all considering the next steps. I feel like I need to broaden my horizon more. As much as I love music, I want other subjects, topics and investors to be coming my way so we can work together to bring new things into the reality sphere. I want to be creating bigger projects. I think I took my first steps towards this in February early this year, when I co-directed a project about soundwave festival in Australia. The project is just bigger than anything I could have imagined. It was such a last minute affair but we've somehow pulled it out of the bag! I have a hunger for bigger things now, with or without the music industry. I see no boundaries, and people that place boundaries aren't really who I want to work with.



R. Every director encounters many challengers, their goal is to ultimately achieve a vision. What has been the highlight so far for you?
RM. I think the highlight for me has been creating a piece of work that people still talk about to this day. A band from Long Island, New York, called Crime In Stereo came to become very good friends of mine. We were working on a documentary and the band unfortunately spilt up. A lack of money ended the dream, and this is a reality for many bands these days. It's bad news really. People who live to write music and inspire people, falling short. When CIS disbanded I felt obligation to do something to show the world how amazing they were. They were more than a band; they were all well mannered, supportive friends, who loved their fans and played every show like it was their last. The inspiration they gave me I put back into my work, and I was touring with them for just expenses, but they were living the same way. The news of the spilt came one night while I was working on something else and I thought, "We're not gonna let these guys disappear". What came from that was a short video about them as people. It was footage from a European tour, with audio interviews over the top. We reordered the interviews on my iPhone in a basement washroom of a hostel in London. I will always remember that moment throughout my life.



R. What are you working on next?
RM. I've got a couple of music videos to direct, a studio documentary on a band who are recording a new album, and then a week directing a short feature which is off to Cannes and some other great festivals. Trying to be busy, but not a busy fool!

R. Which film/documentary makers are you inspired by?
RM. JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Daren Aronofsky, David Lynch, Joe Simon (cinematography), Stacey Peralta, Louis Thoreux, Pennebaker (Bob Dylan's early documentary director), and of course David Fincher (probably my biggest influence).

R. So you're an avid surfer, most people wouldn't associate England as a surfing destination. Tell us about the surfing culture in the UK? Do you compete in tournaments? 
RM. I wish I competed haha! It's purely a recreational sport for me which has become a life long love. Where I'm from in Cornwall is probably the best place to surf in the UK. We've got beaches all around us and it's beautiful. Forget the great north, I come from a place that is more akin to the shire out of Lord of the Rings, mixed with great sandy beaches. There's a good scene there and I surf with a lot of talented people, most of them friends. I get in a surf when I can because I currently don't live in Cornwall, rather Brighton. But I head home 4/5 weeks to get in some time with family and hit the waves. It's a place I will return to at some point. It's where my soul feels most at home I think. The soul though shouldn't get too comfy while you're young, so I moved to have a change. As they say though, home is where the heart is.

R. Musically speaking, what are some of your musical influences? Is there any artists that's HOT right now playing on your iPhone?
RM. I think a lot of my influences come from a board spectrum of music. Largely I'm known for my heavier musical collaborations, visually. But under the surface I'm a big jazz fan, I like a lot of indie, soul and some classics. I've had the chance to get to know a lot of the bands I've been inspired by and that really is a blessing. I've had the time to sit down with them, and talk as people, and that gives you a reward you can't really describe. They give the music and I give back the visuals. Those working relationships are always the best and are always the ones that seem to last the longest. I've worked extensively with Foxy Shazam from Cincinnati Ohio, and I'd say those guys are actually some of my best friends. Their music is pushing a boundary right now, and their performances are beyond exceptional.


Last but no Least…

R. Martin Scorsese has just hit you up on Facebook, he has asked you to join him in making a new film. Your given the creative freedom to do what you want. What kind of film would you make?
RM. Well, off the top of my head, after I'd had a stiff drink; I think the world needs to be woken up to what is happening in the music industry. If Scorsese got in touch with me I'd love to work with him on a documentary about the changing face of our economies within the music and creative industries. He's worked with some amazing artists and I think he has an understanding of the way artists work. I'd really  love to film bands in a way that's never been done before and just blow the lid off the hardships many are facing. We need to let people know world wide what's happening. I think it would be a subject matter everyone would love to watch because you'd incorporate so many genres of music. It's that whole inspiration factor.

To contact Brian Mackfall: www.crashburnmedia.com

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