In line with our 'Never Settle' mantra and collection launch, we have been speaking with skilled craftspeople from a broad range of industries that are constantly honing their craft and striving for better. Our latest muse has worked with some awesome names in the music world; including Deftones, Funeral for a Friend & letlive. Check him out on Instagram!
P&Co : Tell us a bit about your craft, & when/how you first became involved with it?RM : I’m Ryan Mackfall - a music video and documentary director who first started working with bands shortly after I finished film school. When I began, I purposely didn’t call myself a Director because I didn’t feel like I’d earned the title, and this is an idea I hold to this day purely from a respect point of view. I started out around the time YouTube and MySpace were born; these channels seemed like really viable new platforms to present to possible new collaborators/viewers and I was looking for audiences, so decided to mash together my love of music with the fan bases of bands. After a few years of grabbing whatever video work I could, I put together my first well-received piece for Crime In Stereo. The band came from a niche hardcore fanbase and we began working together to make a feature documentary about them. However before the project had a chance to get off the ground, they split up.. I had one tour’s worth of footage sat on a hard drive, and one night I decided to just assemble it into this hybrid ‘music video/documentary’ to give the band something to put out as a ‘goodbye present' to their fans. I sent the link to the band asking them for feedback, and went to bed. They just released the video right away and the next morning the Internet was buzzing about it; which was a shock as I had expected some tweaks before we dropped it. At the time it racked up around 14k views in a week, which was a big deal back then; I hadn’t seen an audience react that way before to something I’d made so it was a real shock. This was the point I started referring to myself as a Director. I still get bands to this day referencing that piece of work as something they connected with, which is a really gratifying feeling. As a director I think you hope/aim for a timelessness that connects with audiences old and new.
P&Co : How is the idea ‘Never Settle’ applicable to you?
RM : We hear it a lot out there in the world of creatives, don’t we? Speaking without restriction, I’m an extremely harsh critic of my work and myself. For me there is a much larger vision to my life’s work, and that’s to direct features…. Everything I’ve ever done works towards creating larger films with bigger audiences. There was a certain way to do ‘that’ back in the day, but in the current growth of media and video/film content, I think it’s fair game now. You just have to encapsulate a release with some high standards and then the rest sorts itself out. People who work with me know that I can be extremely demanding in what I expect (regardless of the project size and output), and this isn’t the easiest of things to deal with if you’re not used to brutal criticism. But I truly feel this is the path to self-improvement and releasing your greatest work. I’m looking to connect with people; to motivate them and show that it is possible to do anything when you condition your mind to it. I’ve never been one to settle for anything other than everyone’s (including my own) best performance. As mentioned earlier I have a deep-rooted respect for this trade; probably because it’s something that brings me a lot of joy. Therefore to disrespect it by presenting a weak performance or a blasé attitude isn’t something that’s going to bring me any sort of satisfaction. I’ve grown up with honest and fair criticisms from my father towards my outputs, and although that is difficult to accept at first, it comes from a place of self-improvement and striving to be truly great. Will I be great? Who knows, it’s not something I dwell on for too long. But being the best I possibly can whilst evolving is constantly on my mind. I want to be someone that is an inspiration for the next generation. Things are getting hairy out there and some of the role models presented through media aren’t what I connect with or recognise as positives, so I’m looking to represent excellence and accessibility in the job. I’m looking to represent what’s possible and achievable. I grew up in a poor mining town in Cornwall and the consensus is often ‘don’t expect too much’. I am the opposite of that though and I expect the best. I want everyone who works with me to benefit from that mind-set. The only way I’m ever going to get there, is by never settling.
P&Co : Explain your favourite piece of work to us?
RM : Such a tough question! But I think if I was to nominate my favourite piece of work it would be the ’Swerve City' video I directed for Deftones. I grew up listening to Deftones and am not ashamed to say that their poster graced my bedroom wall at one point. If you’d said to me at 19 that I’d one direct a video for them I’m not sure how I would have reacted. I’ve worked with Warner Records in Burbank California on many projects, and I earned a kind-of reputation with them for being able to deliver the goods. I was given the opportunity to work with Warner originally through a filmmaker called Natalie Johns who had noticed some of my work on Vimeo; she recommended me to a commissioner at Warner called Devin Sarno (an incredible guy, very open-minded) and a working relationship developed. Skip forward a few years and I got an email asking me if I’d like to direct a video for Deftones. It was a surreal moment; I was sat on the floor of my then girlfriend’s house checking my emails, and well, I just lost my shit.. I was honoured because unlike most music videos where you are pitching against other directors, this was just offered to me outright. I nearly didn’t get the video due to the band not wanting shoot it in the UK (as they would have been on tour with a hectic schedule). But Chino got pneumonia I believe and it didn’t end up happening in the USA; so it ended up coming back around to me again! It was so strange because it felt like fate playing a role. We shot the video in a venue called Gorilla in Manchester and that night got to head to their show and hang out. For me the icing on the cake was Chino approaching me at the very end of the day, embracing me and saying ‘thank you so much for today it was amazing’. Collaborating with the people you respect is a feeling that is unmatched, especially when you have a chance to give something back. For me that’s a huge factor in the job and keeps the fire burning!
P&Co : What is your favourite P&Co piece?
RM : Again another really tough question, but your leather goods are amazing. As I’ve grown older I’ve begun collecting accessories and items which will last me through the years while adding just add a touch of style to my menswear collection. I’ve been given a few things as gifts along the way in terms of hand crafted goods, and I want to keep adding to that. I don’t really like wallets, and am definitely more of a cardholder guy, so items like that are part of my daily routine.
P&Co : Which 3 things would you take to a desert island?
RM : 1) I’d take a solar powered mp3 system filled with my favourite music, because I struggle to go a day without listening to music. It’s my daily fuel and takes precedence over most forms of entertainment (even films). I write most, if not all, of my ideas whilst listening to music. A bit of a boring answer but I literally have to make sure I have some form of music with me on any journey, so nothing could be truer! 2) Secondly my surfboard (firewire 5”8 sweet potato). Hopefully the island has a beach with some waves…… who knows. But I can spend my time watching how the swells work on each coastline haha. 3) A picture of my little nephew, because he is one of the greatest things to ever come into my life, and just seeing his face makes me happy even in the worst of situations. (Austin if you happen to read this when you’re older I’m sorry for embarrassing you mate haha).
P&Co : What would you like to do more of within your field (or even outside of it) in the future?
RM : I think my logical pathway forward now will be doing less music industry related stuff and begin moving into other fields (it’s always been the goal since day one). If I’m honest that’s already happening right now; there’s some stuff coming up I am very excited about directing. I’ll always work in the music industry as I’ve got many business and personal relationships rooted in it, but realistically I’m looking towards more documentaries based on other subject material; short films and possibly some advertising if the right projects appear. I think it’s healthy to be constantly pushing your talents into new areas and I don’t agree with the idea that a director should stick to one area; I don’t think that generates long-term growth. I cut my teeth in the music industry and I’m grateful for that, but I want to quench other desires now. I’ve been writing short/feature film ideas for a while privately, and I actually was schooled in writing scripts in my early 20’s so generating and developing ideas is always happening in the background. I’m looking to co-write and direct a detective/mystery thriller at some point too, that’s been a goal of mine since I began in the world of film. I always gravitate towards the darker ideas as I think I feel more at home there, so watch this space.. The pot is always cooking!