DYNMC Brad and the visual dream teams of the scene
This scene of ours is a funny old thing. The progression. The perceived limitations. The influencers. The live events… oh, and the music. The retro 80s music scene has for me, become one where good friends have been made, hobbies developed and (certainly!) lots of money spent! But what intrigued me the most is it’s characters.
So let me take you back to late 2019. London. I was at a live event of a very popular synthwave band and was taking a moment outside speaking to a few friends about how I just wasn’t enjoy the gig as much this time around.. As I smoked and waxed lyrical with my criticisms, from the darkness a man appeared, hollered my name and put out a hand to shake. That man was Brad A. Kinnan, Creative at DYNMC and the man behind some of the synth scene’s most memorable music videos. (Michael Oakley and the Ollie Wride trilogy to name just a few).
Brad is one of those characters of the scene. Once he got back to LA we caught up some again, just to find out a little more about the man himself. So please take a seat and enjoy a Fakeman conversation with Brad A Kinnan.
So first of all, thanks for taking the time. For those that don’t know, tell us a little bit about DYNMC and how it all got started?
Thanks for having me, man! It’s a pleasure. DYNMC actually started on a commercial shoot in Hawaii back in 2016. My friend Adam Bussell (co-founder of DYNMC) and I we’re drinking Mai Tais in Waikiki and we started talking about forming a collective of sorts for all the film projects we were working on. At this point I had lived in LA for about a year and a half and Adam had just moved to LA a few months prior so we had only worked on a few projects in California together.
A little background on our relationship; Adam and I met senior year at Michigan State University. We started shooting little video sketches in our free time; probably when we were supposed to be studying to be completely honest, haha. We worked really well together and became fast friends during that last year in college. It made sense that we would eventually end up in the same city with the same goals.
So, back to Hawaii. We started throwing names around. We’d come up with a name and then Google it and see if they’re were any preexisting production companies with the same name. The word dynamic kept up coming up but we couldn’t find a way to make it sound unique because they’re are pretty much thousands of companies using the word dynamic. I remember thinking, waiting a minute, why don’t we just abbreviate it. I had this image in my head of it on a license plate in all caps and that’s where the DYNMC came from. After we returned to LA, we started to use the name DYNMC Creative for all of our production work from then on and it stuck. Today, we represent a diverse roster of incredible creatives in the Los Angeles area.
And how did you stumble across the synthwave / retro scene?
Well, that’s a long story, but I’ll do my best to abbreviate it. It all started back in 2017 when I shot a music video for my friend’s band Missing Words that ended up on NRW. One of the members of the band, Colin Wood (who also has his own awesome solo project called Coleurs), was really into synth music and started to introduce me to bands like Electric Youth, MN84, Kavinsky around that time. It just so happened he was also friends with Col Bennett of FM-84. This was around the time that Atlas had just come out and hadn’t been fully discovered yet. So, FM was looking for someone in LA to shoot a music video and my friend Colin sent him the Missing Words video I had recently released. He loved it and then we started a dialogue about shooting a video for this song, “Running In the Night”. I had no idea what that track would do for FM-84 and the scene, but I really liked it and agreed to shoot the video for him. After that, I started to work with more and more retrowave artists. I’ll have to tell the story how I met Michael Oakley sometime. It’s a good one! Haha. The rest is history.
You were over in the UK last year and we saw you at a few gigs and events. What do you think of the country and the synth music community that seems to have exploded here?
One of the highlights of my year no doubt! Honestly, it was pretty surreal. I couldn’t believe in the same week; The Rise of the Synths was premiering, The Midnight was playing their biggest show to date and Ollie Wride was performing his debut solo album for the first time live! It couldn’t have worked out better. It was also amazing to finally meet so many of the friends and collaborators I had made through the online community in real life and see a lot of familiar faces from past shows. The stars really aligned on that trip.
Who have been your major cinematic influences growing up?
I actually grew up in a house without cable so my initial exposure to cinema was pretty limited. My parents had a small VHS collection including the original Star Wars Trilogy (not the ones with the added CG, thank God), Alfred Hitchcock films (Rear Window, Psycho, The Trouble With Harry) and then of course a bunch of Disney animated classics. So those films we owned were played over and over during my childhood and became major influences on me. However, it wasn’t until around then around the turn of the century when I saw films like, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Bourne Identity and 007: Casino Royale that I really started to find my cinematic inspirations. A few years later, my friend showed me Alien and the Director’s Cut of Blade Runner and Ridley Scott became one of my cinematic heroes along with Hitchcock and Peter Jackson.
You’ve had some varying roles on projects (director of photography, director). Do you have a preference?
When I first got into filmmaking I would do everything myself; directing, shooting, editing and producing so I got exposed to all of those key roles early. I’ve always had a love for camerawork and how it felt when you got to be the one to press the record button so I fell into the role of Director of Photography quite naturally. Initially, I would direct and shoot out of necessity on smaller projects, but over time I’ve started to move towards being that hands on director that really syncs with the cast and crew.
The trilogy of movies you did with Ollie Wride were stylish and extremely high quality. Now it’s clear you and Ollie are both creative guys. What’s was the collaboration process like for these projects?
First off, thank you for calling them movies! That was always Ollie and my goal from the beginning. We both wanted to make music videos that felt more like short films rather than you’re typical MTV style performance / montage. Ollie is quite a cinephile himself, which really accelerated finding our influences and themes you see represented in the trilogy. Also, the creative mind of Tristan Peach (you may know him as the thief in “The Driver” and the sleazy cult leader in “I’m a Believer”) played a huge part of bringing these stories to the screen. Ollie and I would lay a thematic foundation and Tristan would come along and find ways to flesh it out and make it feel more robust. He’s like our secret weapon, haha.
Are there any particular musicians, directors or creatives that you would like to work with?
I’d love to have the opportunity to work with Denis Villeneuve, director of Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 on a project someday. He has such an incredible understanding of humanity and how to represent it authentically within fantastical situations. He’s one of the few directors today, who has the ability to create blockbuster films that feel small, intimate and personal. I’d also love to work with Johnny Jewel of Chromatics and Italians Do It Better. He’s built such a distinct brand around his label that pays homage to a lot of classic cinema like film noir and even Italian horror. Not something you see often today in pop music.
What’s next for DYNMC and yourself?
Well… We’re gearing up for our biggest year ever. Currently, I’m working on several very different projects; a feature-length documentary about a classic rock band, a couple short films and music videos and my directorial love letter to the film-culture of the 1980’s, Fall Break ’18. A nailbiting horror flick set to a retrowave soundtrack featuring some of our friends in the synth-verse. A couple you may know very well, haha. We introduced the project last year and shot about half of the film already. Currently, we’re about to launch a slick new crowdfunding campaign that has a ton of perks that are not only fun and exciting, but will play a huge role in helping us complete the film. Keep an eye out for some exciting announcements soon.
Last question – Favourite movie?!
Hands down the Director’s Cut of Blade Runner. It’s a film I always find myself coming back to for inspiration. It’s so dense that I always catch something I missed before. Truly one of the greatest films ever made.
A huge thank you to Brad for taking the time to share some of his thoughts with Fakeman. Head over to the website to see more of the great work for the DYNMC team.
Now you’ll need to excuse me. I have to return some videotapes..