CHRIS BRYAN – PHANTOM REEL


We’ve got something big for you, Phantom cinematographer Chris Bryan‘s latest film reel. It’s a damn fine piece of work, direct from his lens over recent times. What’s better than a wild Sumatran rodeo, 20 foot Teahupoo pounding across dry reef, John John Florence in full flight and bare breasts being generously covered with milk – all captured at 1000 frames per second? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Well maybe very few things, but hear me now, you’re going be glued to this film regardless. Then you’re going to wander around in slow motion all week, hearing ambient music wherever you shall go.

The big man himself dropped by the MC Sydney studio during the week to hangout. We had a little chat, then he stole some merch from the storage room.

The start of the film is amazing, that an Indo guy riding a couple of bulls through the mud, what the hell was going on there?
Yeah that was deep in the Sumatran jungle. I randomly came across an amazing photo of a guy online doing this and thought it would be cool to shoot on the Phantom camera at 1,000 frames per second. So I started researching it and found out they only do it twice a year and it just so happened that the last one of the year was happening two days after I’d started researching it. So I booked a flight that night and flew over solo the next morning. I didn’t own my own Phantom camera at the time so I called my friends at Panavision and they where kind enough to lend me the camera as a test shoot.

The event is called Pacujawi and its kind of a ceremonial type thing for the people of Sumatra. They do this at the beginning and end of there rice patty season. The farmers use the Bulls to plough the rice patties. So the Pacujawi event is a festive way of showing the true strength of the bulls as they charge through the mud with a Sumatran jockey cowboy on the back. And the local farmers bid on whichever bull’s show the most power and strength. To me its something like what I’d imagine it would have been like back in the Medieval times. If you look closely at that opening shot you can see the guy is actually blighting down on the bull’s tail. This is what really gets the bulls going. And theres also a guy hanging in the background sucking back on a cigarette. Pretty classic scene out there. I was the only white guy out there and it seemed like they had never seen a white guy before.

The Phantom Camera is a weapon, what sets it apart in your eyes, especially for what you shoot?
To me there isn’t a better camera out there than the Phantom Camera for the main stuff I love to shoot which is action sports. To be able to shoot at 1,000 frames per second in a 4K resolution still just blows my mind. And the stills you can pull from 4K at 1,000 FPS are amazing. If you can’t find a frame shooting at this speed then your in the wrong job haha.

What athletes have you featured in this film and who do you enjoy working with the most?
I enjoy working with all the athletes featured in my reel. This is why I specifically chose all the guys I worked with. But if I had to pick a couple of favourites I would say – Kelly Slater obviously because he is an amazing talent but also just a great guy to be around in and out of the water. Clay Marzo because he is so raw and natural and so different to anyone I’ve ever met before. I really like working with him because he’s just different to everyone else. “The Pipeline Monster” because he is the best tube rider on the planet along side Mikala Jones. Mitch Rawlins (Bodyboarder) because he is the hardest working guy i know and charges like a maniac.  He is also possibly the most technical bodyboarder out there. And John Florence, like Kelly for his amazing talent but also because he is the most humble and nicest guy I’ve been fortunate enough to work with.

**People in this film:
Random Sumatran cowboy
Mike Donohoe – Bodysurfer
Nick Riley – surfer
Laurie Towner – surfer
Tom Hannam – Skiier
Marlon Gerber – surfer
Kelia Moniz – Longboarder
Ryan Callinan – Surfer
Matt Meola – Arabian bird man/Surfer
Wiggolly Dantas – Surfer
Joel Parkinson – Surfer
Sun Yang – Olympic Swimmer
Fa’ Empel – Model
Morgan Flook – Parkor
Richard Christie – Surfer
Chris Burton – Eventing Rider (Horse jumper)
Kelly Slater – Surfer
Eric Silverman – Flowrider
African topless woman
Bruce Irons – Surfer
Joel Parkinson – Surfer (underwater)
Jordan Houghton – Skiier
Johnson Florence – Surfer
Dave Rastavich – Surfer (underwater)

The Phantom Camera is pretty damn heavy isn’t it? Find yourself in many sketchy situations in the water?
Yeah the camera is really heavy, its like swimming around with a water proof microwave. In places like Hawaii and Tahiti it can get really scary because the problem is that when you get caught inside you can only move so fast carrying all that weight. And then because the housing is so buoyant its like swimming with a life jacket on, so its really hard to dive deep. Ive had a few beat downs that have been pretty scary. But as they say if it was easy everyone would be doing it haha.

Tell me about filming in the water, what do you love about it?
I love filming in the water because every wave is completely unique and to me theres not a better office in the world than being in the ocean.

You just got back from Indo, filming with Kolohe. How was it?
Yeah we did a trip to the Mentawaii Islands for Kolohe’s new film. The waves were incredible every single day for our 11 day trip with an amazing crew of guys that I really enjoyed working with. One of the better trips I’ve been on for sure.

Where are you off to next?
At the moment I’m just on standby for a huge swell to shoot some stuff for the new Point Break II film. So that all just depends on if it gets big enough for the location the director has in mind. Other than that theres a huge swell hitting Western Australia in a couple of days so I’m heading over there tomorrow and then driving down to Esperance to shoot empty waves at Cyclops just for a personal project and stock shots. This is a place I’ve been trying to get to ever since Ted Grambeau shot it ten years ago. Its got to be the most photogenic wave on the planet.

Want more from Chris Byran? Head to his website or Vimeo

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