Seattle-based filmmaker Bryan Campbell is gearing up for an exciting week. After his short film The Bond won Best Narrative Short at the 2014 Seattle Transmedia Independent Film Festival, Campbell is having the world premiere of his latest short Big Boy at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. Washington Filmworks sat down with Campbell to discuss his short (a comedy about a child who ventures into a filthy rest-stop bathroom), the upcoming premiere, and working in Washington.
Campbell has a varied history as a filmmaker. After graduating from the Art Institute of Seattle, Campbell directed corporate content and music videos before venturing into directing narratives. However, “I wanted a fuller understanding of what the crew around me was doing and to learn about their jobs from the ground up.” To get a further education in filmmaking and crew responsibilities, Campbell took jobs as an Assistant Director for several local films (including incentive projects Touchy Feely and Lucky Them). “I learned about the various on-set jobs and learned a lot, getting exposure to different tasks and people.”
After getting a better knowledge of set jobs and responsibilities, Campbell returned to directing, raising money for The Bond while Big Boy was financed by producers Mike Astle and Jason Aumann. But, as he notes, he couldn’t make either film without the efficient and supportive Seattle crew (nicknamed “Crewtopia”). “Crewtopia, to me, is more than just people,” explains Campbell. “It’s an ideal and standard of behavior on-set. The crew here creates such a specified calm and respectful energy, so that people enjoy the work they do while maintaining an emotionally safe environment.”
The crew was committed when it came to making Big Boy – specifically when Production Designer Kristin Bonnalie changed a Shoreline Community College clean bathroom into the “nightmare” of a restroom that you see on-screen. “It took about fifty hours to transform the bathroom into the build, and then we shot for eleven hours,” recalls Campbell. “Then, after wrapping at midnight, we had six hours to dismantle the build and get it back to the clean bathroom before students arrived.” Campbell, Bonnalie, and the rest of the crew all rushed to get the set down and clean in such a short amount of time – here are the before and after photos:
Campbell is especially excited to premiere Big Boy at Tribeca. “It’ll be our world premiere,” he says. Why Tribeca? “Because their reputation precedes them, they’re one of the best film festivals in the world. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to be exposed and meet so many people and filmmakers I would’ve never had the opportunity to meet. It’s all incredibly exciting for me.” He adds, “the whole world looks to Tribeca for interesting and relevant content – getting a stamp of approval from this trusted source of film is such an honor.”
But what Campbell is also very excited for is to represent Washington State in New York. “Oh, it’ll be a thrill,” he exclaims. “Big Boy was a full-on Washington State effort behind and in front of the camera (with local actors Russell Hodgkinson and Tony Doupe). I’m going to talk about our amazing film community and important fight for the new bill to increase our production incentive program. It’s a privilege to talk about it and get people to acknowledge the amazing work we can and currently do.”
Washington Filmworks congratulates Campbell for Big Boy premiering this week at the festival. Check out more about the film on Campbell’s official website, and the film’s page with tickets on the Tribeca Film Festival website.
Seattle-native Bryan Campbell has been directing independent films, music videos and commercials for almost 10 years. His music video for Sadistik’s “Searching For Some Beautiful” was a 2011 Aesthetica Short Film Festival Official Selection, and his short film, The Bond, won Best Narrative Short at the 2014 Seattle True Independent Film Festival. Previously, Bryan has worked on such Northwest projects as Megan Griffith’s Lucky Them, a 2014 Tribeca Film Festival Official Selection, Lynn Shelton’s Touchy Feely, a 2013 Sundance Official Selection and the third season of Portlandia, starring Fred Armisen (SNL) and Carrie Brownstein.