Crashburn Media

By Andy

Chances are, if you don’t know CRASHBURN MEDIA by name, you’ve definitely seen their work.
Funeral For A Friend’s Live at Shepherds Bush DVD? That was Crashburn.
Crime In Stereo’s ‘farewell’ video? That was Crashburn.
The Wonder Years’ new music video?
The Kerrang! Tour webisodes?
That Fucked Up gig we streamed earlier this year? All of it, Crashburn.
With an impressive portfolio and a reputation as being one of the hardest working production companies in the alternative music scene out there, we figured it was about time to have a few words with Crashburn’s head honcho, Ryan Mackfall…

Ryan, where are you in the world and what are you doing today?

I’m sat side stage at the Beaumont Club, Kansas City, Missouri, USA, using the internet to check my emails, update my blog etc. I’m on tour with Sharks, Chuck Regan and Social Distortion across the USA and Canada shooting new video content.

Please explain to us what Crashburn Media is and what role you play.

Crashburn Media is a company that specialises in visual creative media, serving clients from many industries, but largely, the music industry. I’m the company director and I oversee the running of the brand, making sure that projects go as they should. I delegate work to my team, while directing and producing content myself. In a nutshell, I have an extensive role in directing and producing projects, as well as being hands-on in cinematography and project management.

Who else is involved in Crashburn media and what do they do?

The team is based around an extremely talented bunch of individuals who all come together to work under the company banner. We’ve got Tom Griffiths who’s my director of photography and is also an extremely talented photographer (his main area of business), he’s been with me since the start is and is my right hand man. Ben Tregonning, Matt Kirby and Michael Trunks who are camera technicians. Chris Martin is another one of our photographers. Ryan Chang who’s a recent addition and is our first international team member from Singapore; he takes some incredible photos. Another recent addition is Josh Mansfield who did an excellent job for us over in Belgium at Groezrock.

How did Crashburn begin?

Crashburn began as a personal aim to ‘get to work’ at being creative under my own boundaries. I left film school and had no desire to sweep floors and make cups of tea for years with a view to work my way up the production ladder. I wanted to be hands on in the thick of things immediately. I wanted to be working under my own rules without having to answer to someone else’s views or direction. I could see a gap in the video production market in the music industry where large-scale companies were charging mountains, and medium scale companies were still often too expensive. The low market appealed to me, therefore I set about building some high quality boundaries. Naturally at first, we couldn’t quite meet them, but through hard work and determination we started making a mark. More and more people caught onto our ideals and eventually we started having more work rolling in. We found ourselves on large tours filming the viral content for labels and music management, and this gave us a scope to really sell the company, as we wanted from day 1. Along with all this, there was the underlying plan also to promote my name as a respected director.

What sets Crashburn apart from the other media companies out there?

I think we really are from the school of good manners. First and foremost we want to be approachable by all. All the team are very down to earth and we’re not in this for glory, but to really set some new standards and steer away from the idea that mediocrity is acceptable. It’s not. Only the best will make the cut these days, especially with lower budgets all around us. We want to inspire others that are told they ‘cannot’, into thinking ‘they can’. It seems to be a trend for people to push the idea that ‘the world is screwed’, and we don’t have time for that, we just want to get on with things and bring up the bar. If people want to waste their lives promoting bad vibes, so be it, but we want to be at the other end of the scale. I think it says a lot that 95% of the bands we’ve worked with walk away as friends rather than just clients. That’s just because people find us easy to communicate with. We can take their ideas and turn them into something physical which they feel extremely proud of.

You first came to Punktastic’s attention with the ‘exit’ video you shot with Crime In Stereo last year. How did you first get involved with CIS?

I first met CIS while shooting a web series for Four Year Strong on the EASY CORE TOUR 2008. We were touring with New Found Glory, Set Your Goals and Crime In Stereo. The first thing that really blew me away about the guys was how incredibly down to earth and friendly they were. We all seemed to gel as friends immediately and it was a tour that will always hold strong to me as one of my favourites. Naturally we all kept in contact and this is how future video ideas spawned.

That video was billed by some as ‘the best possible way a band could break up’ and reached over 10,000 views in a week on release. Were you surprised how well received it was?

The video was actually pretty hard to put together. It’s one thing to hear of a band to break up, but to know how hard they had all worked at it on a personal level, made it a tough piece of work to formulate. I knew that it had to be something very special, and I wanted to create a music video that was a break from the norm; a documentary mashed up with a traditional release. I sent the video to the guys and they were over the moon. The icing on the cake came one night where I sat down at my desk to check my emails, and saw that the Vimeo hit-counter had gone through the roof. It was the most hits a video I had produced, had ever got in such a short space of time. What made it even more touching were the comments being received from fans around the globe. The statement the band released after the video was probably one of the most touching things anyone has ever said about my work. I’m never in this for glory or backstage kudos, it’s ALWAYS been about inspiring others. I guess we reached that goal with the CIS video.

Crime In Stereo – ‘I Am Everything (I Am Not)’

You’ve recently announced plans to produce a shareware DVD as a final, final send off for the band. What exactly will be included in that? What has made you decide to release it in the way that you are?

The video was a great ending to the band, but I really wanted to put something physical together that people could keep forever. Bands like CIS need to always be remembered for their hard work and humble ethics. They are an inspiration to everyone in an industry where everyone more frequently seems to think that being an asshole is cool. It’s not. The shareware DVD is going to be about everyone working together to spread it around the globe. We want it to become an epidemic. We want everyone copying it, seeding it, lending it, sending it. We want TV parties of people to come together and be able to enjoy one of the band’s last ever shows. We’re also hoping to put in some extra parts like photos, fan-shot footage and naturally, the final CIS music video, which until now has only been available on the internet.

You’re very liberal when it comes to distributing your videos around online, encouraging people to do so where possible. Do you not see video piracy as a threat to your work? Is it something that actively concerns you as an individual or as part of Crashburn?

The world of digital media is evolving and sharing content can spread a larger message, however it should be noted I’m not a supporter of piracy. But I am a supporter of promoting bands to all ends of the earth, where people less fortunate might never get the chance to see a live performance. Online viral media is the key to this, especially when a band has broken up before their time. Just like anything in life you’ve got to see the positive strengths in a bad situation sometimes.

Were you as surprised as the rest of the world when they announced their split?

It came as a shock, and it was something I hoped we’d not see for a long time. I understood some of the reasoning behind it though. I respect the guys enough to support their decisions.

How far along with that project are you?

About 50% through, but other paid projects have had to take a front seat over the last few months. Upon my return to the UK at the start of July I aim to push the project full steam ahead. I’m meeting up with the band in Brooklyn this month to talk over everything and really bring the idea to the surface.

What can you tell us about the Ghost Of A Thousand documentary you’re working on?

This is going to be similar to the CIS final video, a goodbye to a band that has inspired so many people. I guess you could say that the ethics of TGOAT are a trans-Atlantic mirror to those of CIS.

Ghost Of A Thousand ‘Documentary’ teaser

You spent a good couple of weeks on the road with Four Year Strong and The Wonder Years earlier in the year who you’ve come to become close friends with. What were your experiences of that tour? Highlights/low points?

I knew that the tour was going to be big, and I knew that the series we were producing for FYS needed to mirror that. I had briefly met The Wonder Years at Slam Dunk Festival the year before while there with Crime In Stereo, so it was a good chance to get to know them better. By the end of the 3 weeks we had all become great friends (naturally through all sharing a bus together). I had a lot of gear break on the tour, including my laptop, and these things can bring you down, but when you’re on the road filming, your main priority is to make sure you are producing the work that is required. The project takes the priority. Being around such great people makes my job easier and the highs outnumbered the lows. It was such a great time. Good Charlotte treated us all extremely well. You can view all the highlights via the current FYS series (episodes released late every Thursday) or some of the performance action via the new TWY music video.

The Wonder Years – ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’

When it comes to working with bands, what do you look for in a good client? What will make you say yes to a project and what will make you turn one down?

I’ll take on all the work I can get. We’re not in a position to pick and chose our clients, especially in the current economic climate. But what we ideally look for in a client is one that is open minded to the concepts we present them, or willing to work with us to develop an idea. The only thing that would make us turn down a client would be a bad attitude or a promotion of an ethic we really did not support. We’ve yet to ever encounter that situation though.

You were recently entered into a Total Film competition. How did you get nominated for that?

My blog got recognised by one of the magazines writers who started following it and keeping up to date with my movements. The blog competition came around and I was nominated in the category for ‘Best Creative Blog’. I was very flattered, especially to be next to ‘Inception’’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I was even more flattered to get second place overall! The blog seems to be going from strength to strength and it has nearly 8000 followers throughout the globe. It’s a tongue-in-cheek, fun way to keep up to date with what I’m doing.

What video/project are you proudest of to date?

It’s hard to pick one project really, but current favourites are the CIS video and music videos from Heights, Heart In Hand, Feed The Rhino and Sharks (some have yet to be released from that list).

Who inspires you as a cinematographer/director? Whose body of work do you look up to the most?

The people I look up to most are:
Joe Simon – A videographer from Austin, Texas, most famous for his videos for Mutiny BMX.
Mickey Smith – A fellow Southwest filmmaker whose videos and advice guided me in my early years.
Ben Thornley – The man behind Sitcom Soldiers.
Darren Aronofski – Black Swan, The Wrestler, The Fountain etc
Christopher Nolan – Inception, Batman Begins etc
Duncan Jones – Moon, Source Code
Other names include, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. I like to keep my inspirations as wide as possible.

Given unlimited time and unlimited resources, what would you do? What’s the ‘dream’ project for Ryan Mackfall?

The long-term goal is to become a feature film director, which was my initial reasoning behind starting projects in the music industry (the promotion of my name as a respected director). So given unlimited time and unlimited resources it would be the chance to make a feature film. I’ve got a lot of ideas. I’d love to do something like what the Beastie Boys recently did for their latest release. I’m going to be writing my first feature idea sometime later this year, so we’ll see how it goes.

You spend a lot of time responding to people’s Tumblr questions asking for advice on how to break in to the industry. If you could give one piece of golden advice to someone trying to get noticed as a videographer/cinematographer, what would it be?

Be dedicated to your goals. Don’t let naysayers put you down. Develop a resistance to the dark side of the industry you are about to enter. There are many people who take pride in their abilities to be destructive to the hopes of others. Don’t let those people win. Try and surround yourself with positive influences. Believe in yourself, be kind to others and work hard. Do what you love and the rest comes naturally.

Jumping Ships – ‘The Whole Truth’

So what can we expect to see coming from Crashburn in 2011? What other projects have you got in the pipeline?

Currently I’m shooting here in America for the new Sharks music video, along with a short documentary on their travels in the USA and what it’s like to be an emerging punk band promoting their music internationally. We’ve got a lot of new music videos coming out which are bolder than our previous pieces. We’ve got a reputation to be wholly based around ‘performance’ videos, which is incorrect. We’re about to bury that with our releases from Feed The Rhino, Heart In Hand and Heights. We’re also going to be at Hevy festival filming the last performance of The Ghost Of A Thousand. Generally we’re looking to take on more projects than ever before, and we’ve got some new clients in the pipeline, one including Front Magazine. The sky is the limit and we’re looking to push the company on an international basis. Everyone can keep up to date on what’s going on by visiting my blog or Crashburn media’s website.

Find out more about Crashburn Media online:

Crashburn’s website:
Ryan’s blog:
Crashburn’s Vimeo Channel (LOADS of goodies in here!):

Crashburn on Twitter: @teamcrashburn
Ryan on Twitter: @ryancrashburn

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]