Bryn McCashin has become a leading cinematographer by embracing the artistry of his craft. Where a painter has a brush and canvas, this Canadian has lighting and a camera, and uses them to the same effect, creating whole new worlds, illusions with the simplest of tools, to tell a story and captivate his audience. His love of light has become a signature in his style, a way of creating flow within and between spaces.
McCashin has had a formidable career, and at only 26, has achieved what many can only dream of in a lifetime. He has been pivotal to the success of many prolific projects, including the film OMI, which won Special Jury Recognition "Powerful Trip" at the renowned SXSW in Texas earlier this year, commercial campaigns for Coors Banquet and OWN Cancer, both of which shed light on important issues while showcasing McCashin’s stunning skills, and a series of music videos for indie band Peach Pit, which have amassed millions of views on YouTube and gained a significant following for the band itself.
“Every day I’m in a new place, doing something different with a different group of people. There is a sense of community in the film industry and the people you work with are for the most part, great people. It’s great to wake up and go to set knowing you will see a friend you haven’t worked with for a few months, or to a new place you’ve never been before. As a director of photography, I’m lucky enough to travel for work, and have seen many places across the country that I would have likely never gotten to visit. This of course is all just the cherry on top of getting to do something that I find incredibly creatively fulfilling. It really is the whole package,” said McCashin.
One of McCashin’s most celebrated projects was the film Limbic, an artistic expression about the idea of limbic resonance or quantum entanglement, and how these ideas could affect us physically in our connection to family and friends through space and time. The production of this shoot spanned many years of production in many locations, with countless actors and voice actors.
“The idea that people can be joined through space and time in a way that is utterly magical, yet still based in the possibilities of science is fascinating. I am driven by the mysteries of our experience. Those of science and physics and philosophy, and this was a beautiful melding of these concepts. Beyond that, the connection that I think people feel when watching the project is mirrored in the subject matter, making the experience of watching it a true example of the exact concepts we touch on in the film. Media and art have a way of bringing people together in these ways, and I think that this is the exact idea that this film touches on,” he said.
Limbic was shot on 16mm film, and used lighting rigs with up to 48 lighting fixtures for some sequences. It was initially distributed online on Vimeo and around the net, and quickly received attention from prominent film and art publications around the world before going on to get a Vimeo Staff Pick, a Webby Nomination, and a Berline Commercial Silver Top 10.
“The project was such a long process and I really grew and changed as a person throughout it. To see it so well received after the years of work was really an incredible experience and one I still hold very dear. It’s not often you get to put your heart and soul into something like this and then get to see others enjoying it. At the end of the day, I think that is what this career is about. Sharing experience and beauty with others, and that’s really why I love being a cinematographer,” said McCashin.
Beginning the project in 2018, the first day McCashin shot, he used 48 individual lights, programmed into a sequence, and aimed specifically to cover an actor in these beams of light. It was a painstaking process, and he still remembers a moment deep into the setup where he realized that by cleaning the lenses of each light individually, the effect would be much better. He and his team spent the better part of two hours bringing each light down, wiping down the lenses and re aiming the lights. It was quite a process, but after the first day, they knew they had something special, but they wanted to build it into something much bigger, and as such began the years long process of shooting additional footage to tie this visual together thematically.
The combination of McCashin’s technical approach to the design and execution of this large lighting set piece, combined with his humanistic approach to shooting actors and emotions, culminated in a piece that is really quite touching. It’s the contrast of the high concept visuals, and the truly naturalistic cinematography of the characters that brings this piece together.
“Bryn’s cinematography was a crucial part of what made the film resonate with audiences across the world. Bryn brings the rare combination of extreme technical talent mixed with an artistic eye. Working with him is always a pleasure. His expertise and presence consistently elevate our projects and has gained recognition from clients and viewers alike,” said Director Jordan Findlay.
So what’s next for McCashin? This talented cinematographer just wrapped a feature film that he deems “the highlight” of his esteemed career. Titled My Animal, the film was directed by Jacqueline Castel, produced by Andrew Bronfman, and is currently in post-production. It will be released in 2023, so be sure to keep an eye out for it to see more of McCashin’s extraordinary work behind a camera.
Published by Pooja Agarwal