underground

By Claire Leonard, ÉCU Writer

Underground systems throughout the world have long held a magnetic attraction for filmmakers.  Be it the perpetual bustle of commuters, the transient nature of encounters, the stark strip-lighting or the endless labyrinthine, white-tiled corridors –there is a quality which brings filmmakers time and time again underground into these man-made environments to explore our inner lives.

Earlier this year, the young filmmaker Paul Bryan captured the essence of the Paris Metro in a mesmerising 6 minute music video for Sovnger’s track “What I like“.  Upon hearing the dance track on the radio, Paul’s creative juices were stirred and he was flooded with ideas and images for a film that would accompany the DJ’s tune. The concept for the film is the daily subterranean rat-race—the frenzied, grey rush of modernity that is the daily commute for many city workers.

Following extensive location scouting, story-boarding, test-shooting using his newly acquired Olympus iSpeed 3 camera, and enlisting the help of “Jacques Lecoq Theatre School” recent graduates, he was ready for the week long shoot in Paris.  What Bryan has achieved is a film with a very natural and unlabored feel.  This is someone who is already, as a recent Graphic Communications graduate, fully in command of his craft, knowing exactly the aesthetic he intends to attain.

He used no additional lighting, relying on the Olympus iSpeed 3’s capabilities under low-light conditions, with the SIGMA 24mm f.1.8 lens.   Using a friend’s BMX bike, coupled with the 6Kg weight of the camera itself to get the steady cam shots he needed, he directed and filmed each sequence himself.  The pulsating lighting effects were achieved in-camera, by adjusting the frame rate speed to capture the ‘natural’ flicker of the Metro’s neon lights themselves. With some tinkering done using Final Cut Pro, he achieved the exact variable frame speeds you see in the video.

So how did he get to film in the metro? Paul applied for the permit long before his intended shooting dates.  He received the OK to shoot, pending the payment of the location fees- in the range of 500€ per hour.  So after a little head scratching and a lot of pre-planning, Paul and his cast went in guerrilla style late at night and early in the morning to shoot.  He had a quiet word with the RATP staff, explained it was a “school project” and workers kindly agreed to turn a blind eye.   Sneaky, but effective!

What inspires him?  Robert Rodriguez’ book Rebel without a Crew, Lars Von Trier’s film The Five Obstacles, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and the website www.itsnicethat.com.

What’s he been working on since? Interning with www.agilefilms.com, learning all he can, coming up with more film concepts for shorts and music videos. Enjoying every minute of being “in the zone”. This is a young filmmaker to watch.  Visit Paul Bryan’s website to watch new videos, follow his blog and see what inspires him at www.pmbryan.com.

Watch the Making of – Behind the Scenes video

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