Canada’s industry-leading cinematographer Bryn McCashin grew up in a small neighborhood in the Southeast corner of Vancouver. Nestled between two parks, and somewhat isolated from the rest of the city, it gave the feeling of being raised in a small town with a mix of middle class single family homes and low income social housing, all integrated with nature and separated from the rest of the city in a way that created a vibrant community surrounded by parks and green spaces. It was here that he first found his love for forming worlds, building forts in the woods, playing large scope games of tag and exploring the 100-acre park behind his childhood home. As he grew older and began getting interested in cameras, this is where he shot many of his first small films, and over time this hobby manifested into an illustrious career.
McCashin’s work has been admired by millions all over the world. Whether taking in an acclaimed film like Limbic, which was a Vimeo Staff Pick, received a Webby Nomination, and took home a Berline Commercial Silver Top 10 last year, or seeing the national commercial campaign for Coors Banquet, which was broadcast across America to raise funds and awareness for Wildland Firefighters, audiences can admire McCashin’s talent and commitment to his craft.
“I feel so incredibly lucky to be a cinematographer at all, and I think that the fact that I have found some success and recognition is really just the cherry on top. Since the day I decided I wanted to be a cinematographer, I have dreamed about being exactly where I am now. Now while it feels like I’m living my dream, I still never stop wanting to go farther and progress, and I think it’s that drive that fuels me. I also have been so lucky to have the support of my friends and family, and to be able to share my success with them has always been so important to me,” said McCashin.
McCashin is a proud Vancouverite and still takes on projects in his hometown, often dubbed as “Hollywood North” for its many film and television studios and picturesque landscape for outdoor shoots. This is exemplified by his work with B.C. based indie-rock band Peach Pit, as he has been the cinematographer for most of the band’s music videos for the past three years.
When the band was releasing their most recent album, “From 2 to 3”, McCashin worked closely with their long-time Creative Director Lester Lyons-Hookham on creating a visual style that would encompass their entire album cycle. This involved shooting music videos and visualizers for every other song on the album. They wanted the videos to feel this nostalgic, lost in the 70s aesthetic, playing off the look and feeling of that period but with a modern twist, which is beautifully demonstrated with their video “Up Granville” which was the first track released off the album.
“I’m a big fan of Peach Pit’s music. They have such a unique sound in this generation and have found a lot of success because of it. This song “Up Granville” in particular has a real nostalgic quality to it, and it complemented the visuals we captured, and vice-versa. When I watch the video now I feel like the blending of the two really was something special,” said McCashin.
McCashin decided that the best way to get the aesthetic right was to do an extended multi-day location scout across British Columbia and bring an Alexa camera along to shoot test footage at the prospective locations. He then took that footage and developed a custom color preset, called a “LUT” or Look Up Table, that he felt took the digital footage and pushed its aesthetic towards the 70’s era film stocks that the references were shot on. He then loaded this onto the camera and used it to shoot the project. Without that process, the aesthetic would have been much less focused as it was the most important aspect of getting the look of the video to where he and his team wanted. Since shooting this video, building a custom LUT on a project by project basis is something that McCashin has tried to do whenever possible, having found it incredibly helpful in his process.
“A project like this is absolute creative freedom. Working with a director that trusts me, and a strong creative vision, there really isn’t anything out of the question as long as it serves the aesthetic and the narrative of the video that we are trying to create. This is always such a freeing and enjoyable experience, and I think the work really does come out better for it,” said McCashin.
The video for “Up Granville” was released on YouTube, where it has been viewed over a million times. As well, the visuals were used extensively on Spotify, where the song has over 12 million plays, and other streaming platforms as promotional material.
After shooting “Up Granville” McCashin went on to shoot another two videos, and a series of visualizers for the entire album. Listeners love the aesthetic that McCashin created, and the success of the video and visuals allowed Peach Pit to tour the world with the album, and now have close to 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify.