Filmmaker Patryk Swiatczak is keen to tell more stories in film. The Plymouth College of Art student is in his final year, but has already made an international music video, an award-winning documentary as well as bagging commercial work. We caught up with him to find what drives him and where next…
D&CFilm: Your video for the Pachamana Family’s song Ocean is pretty powerful in terms of visual style, how did you get involved?
Patryk Swiatczak: I met the leader of the band Carl accidentally, through my friends.
We spoke about art, music and films. He told me that he is a leader of the hip hop band. He simply asked me if I would be interested to participate in the project which tackles to bring awareness about ocean pollution. A couple of weeks after our conversation I received a music track called Ocean, I agreed to make a video.
Pachamama Family is a very unique group of artists on the hip hop field because they treat their music like a weapon to fight with modern world issues. I think that’s very rare these days and it is the opposite of what modern music industry offers. Therefore they see modern problems and they are daring enough to respond musically. That’s the reason why I decided to work with them because as an artist I feel responsible to speak up about ocean pollution. I am proud that I can support this initiative.
That was a great opportunity to send a message across with a simple answer that our ocean is not a dumper and we need to respect the underwater environment.
D&CFilm: What inspired the ideas for the video?
Patryk Swiatczak: When we tightened up the contract, I started my research about the ocean pollution issue. However, I was aware of it but I felt that my approach required more information to get me inspired. When I finished the research I began to think about how can I express my feelings in terms of visuals. I really wanted to keep it simple, which means it is ultimately available to everyone. I came up with a few ideas on paper and once I finished the storyboards I gathered some props and I was ready to film it.
D&CFilm: What are you most pleased with in the film, and what was the most difficult to overcome? How did you manage to organise the shoot?
Patryk Swiatczak: I think the best outcome for me is the final piece that somehow comes together and strives to send a message across. I am proud that it has happened and it flows on the internet with a constant increment of views day by day.
My biggest enemy is often time. So I had to make sure we accomplished everything in six hours. Two members of the band Aton and Piloco came to Plymouth just for one day specifically for filming. Despite that, we had accomplished the script in time. The production went smooth. We all enjoyed the process and we made a decent piece of work together. Everyone enjoyed the process and they couldn’t wait to see the final piece.
D&CFilm: In your filmmaking, do you find yourself drawn to particular themes or visual styles?
Patryk Swiatczak: I absolutely love the cinematic style and that’s my field. There is something about this particular style which I fell in love with. I think world cinematic means to me artistic and serious you know, and there’s always space for exploration.
I love aesthetically pleasing cinematography and I think people appreciate it. I like to frame my work in a very practical way and I do mind what fits within the frame. I don’t like unnecessary things in the background or weird angels.
Cinematography is important to me because in some cases the single image is able to express certain feelings on the screen. Visual storytelling is something I really like to use in my films because it’s easy for an audience to recognise some of the emotions it transfers. They say that a smile is worth more than a thousand words.
D&CFilm: With your film Next To You, a documentary about a nomadic, free-spirited musician, you bagged a best cinematography award at Cinefest in Middlesbrough. What can you tell us about the film, and what impact did the award have on you and your work?
Patryk Swiatczak: There’s actually an interesting story about this film. The Next To You is a very experimental film in my work collection that I have made during my time at university. In fact, it is the first documentary I made.
I remember that we were told to make a short documentary themed ”the world around us” as an assignment. I was looking around for some inspiration and as I really love music I wanted to make a short film about some musician. I told my friend about that and she introduced me to Jamo.
I met him after a week or two and he played a few songs for me. At the time I truly enjoyed his musical style and I thought that the way he jams is absolutely incredible. Along with his music, there was a tragic story behind the artist. I saw it as a perfect opportunity for my short film. I think because we both come from a rough world of harsh reality and rejection, that is what made us able to find connection immediately.
Jamo is a talented artist but also, he has problems with drugs and that is mainly what destroys him. It was quite difficult to follow him as he is very nomadic and he prefers to keep himself out of society. I followed him for a few days and somehow I was lucky to be able to make the film from the material I captured.
My biggest outcome again was the film by itself which was made under difficult conditions. At the end of the story, I had my short film and I feel like I have centred myself towards cinematic style.
Speaking of the award and its impact on me. I definitely felt so good to win the competition, it was such a pleasure which motivated me to work harder and the little trophy on my shelf reminds me to never give up, no matter what. At the time my success was also a middle finger to some of the people in my life that gave up on me. There’s nothing stronger than the power of doubt which defines your character. For a long time, I know I wanted to be a winner but at the same time it is not a priority in my career, my films are.
D&CFilm: What is the role of the artist / filmmaker in society?
Patryk Swiatczak: I think my job is to stay open-minded and enable myself to notice important issues that affect humanity and turn my experience in films. I want to share my stories and enable the audience to experience my vision on the screen. I love to express my feelings about the world around me using film and photography.
Film is a very powerful tool that inspires people and good films inspires great actions, so people can live a happier life. It also brings awareness and educates in certain ways. I love what I do and I am looking forward to telling more stories.
D&CFilm: What’s your background, what attracts you to film and what you like to watch?
Patryk Swiatczak: Interestingly my background has nothing to do with film or art industry. I became interested in becoming an artist along with my age but I always enjoyed watching films. I didn’t know why, but I always analysed films I watched and I was always intrigued and curious about how they have done those incredible things I saw on the screen.
I have loved film since I can remember. It was always a great escape from harsh reality and it often felt good to hear new stories and connect witch characters. My taste grew up with me. I loved old good tv shows in my childhood like Nightrider, films like Robocop or Enter The Dragon. I saw a fair amount of content in my life. Like everyone, I have a shelf of my favourite films. I love 8 miles and Taxi Driver, those films have a special place in my heart. I like most of the genres and I like most of the movies I watch. I like Martin’s Scorsese movies like Casino or Goodfellas. I don’t lock up myself on any genre in terms of consumption and the list of what I watch goes on and on. Quite recently the newest Joker became another film that I proudly add to my shelf collection.
D&CFilm: Tell us about The Agency at Plymouth College of Art and what opportunities and challenges you’ve faced in it? How are you developing as a filmmaker both with The Agency, at college and with your freelance work?
Patryk Swiatczak: My collaboration with The Agency was definitely necessary to discover different jobs in the media industry. It was good experience to collaborate on several different projects and be able to explore the world of commercial work. However, after some time I’ve realised that working for clients is not my thing and I feel much better working on my own projects. I am glad for the opportunity and experience I’ve gathered.
D&CFilm: What’s next and where can we find out more?
Patryk Swiatczak: At the moment I am in my third year and I am trying to experiment more before I live university. I am also working on my first future script which I will try to fund after I graduate. You can find me on my website www.pspicture.com
D&CFilm: Thanks for your time Patryk!
Patryk Swiatczak: No worries, my pleasure!