Bryn McCashin brings compelling aesthetic to Hulu’s ‘Bite sized Halloween’ 

Being an internationally in-demand cinematographer is about building worlds for Bryn McCashin. Using space and light to create a new entity and finding the right lens to capture that. Through his work, he creates a feeling with the aesthetic of a film or an image. It’s his job to translate the director’s vision onto the screen, and in that process, inject as much of his own taste and style into it as needed, creating a stunning cinematic work of art that captures the audiences’ attention. 

“Beyond the esoteric, being a cinematographer is about managing people. You have to make sure your resources and crew are working efficiently to get the job done on time. I find that one of the most important parts of my job is not just managing people’s workload, but also their emotions. I really believe that a happy crew is a fast crew is a creative crew. If I can be the most stoked person on set, then the crew will usually match my energy,” says McCashin.

Bringing that positivity to the set is easy for McCashin, who loves what he does. This passion translates into his work, and audiences can feel it in every project he takes on, such as the award-winning film Limbic, Peach Pit’s music video for their hit song “Up Granville”, and the commercial campaign “OWN CANCER” for Alberta Health Services, which has raised over $95 million for cancer research to date. No matter the medium, McCashin knows how to create a stunning visual aesthetic that fans and colleagues remember.

“Bryn’s instincts with light are unparalleled. He’s the first person I send any script to because of

his intensely collaborative nature and his ability to instantly understand and embody a

character’s headspace – he doesn’t just know how to capture a subject, but knows how to

heighten its feelings,” says Director Zoe Neary, who worked with McCashin on the film Lightning Strikes, which is currently in post-production “Bryn is my greatest ally on any project. He challenges ideas and has a creative resourcefulness that translates difficult concepts into lasting, graphic images. His unwavering ability to protect and bolster an idea invigorates any film he’s a part of, and brings a deeply stirring sense of artistry to every choice he makes.”

One of McCashin’s most recent successes is the film OMI. This horror flick is about a father and son who go fishing together on a gray lake; when the son falls in, he doesn’t come back up quite the same. Written and directed by Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, the film was featured in a series produced by 20th Century Digital, an arm of 20th Century Fox, as a part of a horror program for Hulu called Bite Sized Halloween

“Kelly’s voice is an important one. She made it very clear from day one of prep that the most important aspect of the film was the portrayal of underrepresented peoples in cinema. She wanted to flip the script on the standard expectations and stereotypes. This is an important project and I’m very excited to see what Kelly does next. I feel very fortunate that she had me on this project and trusted me to help tell her story,” says McCashin.

During prep, McCashin and Fyffe-Marshall spoke in length about how it was best to shoot this project. Because the entire film takes place on a small two person fishing boat, there were limited options when it came to the camera placement. McCashin thought about it in two ways. The first way was shooting from outside the boat looking in and the second being to keep the camera on the boat with the characters. He thought the latter was much more interesting, and  even took it one step farther by rigging the camera to the boat’s hull so that it rocked with the boat, giving the feeling that the outside world was tilting back and forth while the characters stayed still in the boat. Having the camera contained to the boat made you instantly feel like you were a part of this journey with the characters, helping sell the audience on the eventual turn that the story takes. He also used a polarizer to shape the reflective nature of the skin without the use of large flags or bounces. This allowed the boat to be able to be driven around untethered from the main barge they staged on.

“Shooting OMI had a real set of challenges that was somewhat new to me. I had shot projects on boats before, but to shoot in such a small boat, in a remote place was a unique adventure. To me, a challenge is like a puzzle that needs to be put together, and because of this I find it very rewarding to be challenged. I thought that in the end the way I handled filming on this boat was quite elegant. It really allowed for the actors to feel free of the constraints that large film equipment can sometimes cause,” McCashin recalls.

After being distributed on Hulu’s Bite Sized Halloween to the platform’s 47 million subscribers, OMI was accepted to the 2022 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, Texas, where it went on to win the Special Jury Recognition for “Powerful Short Trip”. SXSW is a very prominent film festival in the industry, and has long served studios as a starting point for their films, using enthusiastic fans as a barometer of how they might play in wide release, such as the Oscar nominated comedy Bridesmaids. McCashin is honored to have his work not only appear, but win, at such a prestigious festival.

“When I heard we actually won the special jury recognition I felt very proud of what we made, my work on the project, and everyone involved. It’s those moments that really feel special in your career, and they stick with you for a long time,” he concludes.

Photo: Bryn McCashin framing a shot as director Kelly Fyffe-Marshall watches on her monitor

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