A documentary Director, a film and television cinematographer, a photographer and a producer, Szymczak was born on 6 August 1974 in Bydgoszcz. He was a lecturer at the TVN Media School, the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, and the Leon Schiller State Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź, where he graduated from the Direction of Photography Department.
As a fine-art photographer, he was a permanent collaborator with the FORUM Polish Photography Agency, and his pictures were featured in various magazines, such as Der Spiegel, Elle, Twój Styl, Sukces, Zwierciadło, Viva, Gala, Pani and Uroda. His versatile skills combined new ways of communicating with the audience, the precision of formal means of expression, and the fascination with image and sound. On a daily basis, he worked on television formats. Moreover, he described his practical knowledge in a scientific paper and received his Doctoral Degree in Film and Television Arts at the Leon Schiller State Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź.
He gained considerable international cinematographic experience while working on various shows made by the TVN television station, such as Sekrety Chirurgii/Knife Makes Perfect, Szpieg/Spy, Cela/The Cell, Misja Martyna/Mission Martyna, Wyprawa Robinson/Expedition Robinson, Druga Twarz/Second Face, Moja Krew/My Flesh and Blood, Krótka Piłka/Short Passing and Superwizjer.
During his studies (1995–2002), he also improved his skills while working on various narrative films, such as Kiler/Killer by Juliusz Machulski, Przedwiośnie/The Spring to Come by Filip Bajon and Na koniec świata/To the End of the World by Magdalena Łazarkiewicz. He was also the Director of Photography for a feature comedy film about the Knights of the Teutonic Order entitled 1409 – afera na zamku Bartenstein/1409 – the Scandal at Barteinstein Castle by Rafał Buks and Paweł Czarzasty, based on a screenplay written by Kompania M3, an artistic group from Toruń.
Moreover, he produced and directed the independent films Film Spring Man. Sławomir Idziak, Uciekając przed/Running From, Droga do…/The Road to…, and Zdobywcy Nieba/Conquerors of the Sky, which received multiple awards at festivals, and were often broadcast on television. In 2004, he created a narrative film entitled Kobieta twoja/Your Woman, featuring a moving performance by Brygida Turowska-Szymczak. The picture was nominated for the Polish Independent Cinema Award OFFskar.
A separate aspect of Szymczak’s career is documentary films based on his hobby – diving: Wielki błękit Morza Czerwonego/The Great Blue of the Red Sea and two films which earned him an award at a film festival in Zawiercie: Pod Ciśnieniem/Under Pressure and Piwnice diabła/Devil’s Cellar.
Since the mid-1990s he has cooperated with various theatres in Warsaw, Łódź, Toruń and Szczecin. His crowning achievement in this field was a documentary portrait of Adam Hanuszkiewicz, entitled Big Han.
He also wrote the scripts for and directed various commercials and numerous music videos, for instance for Kasa, Sexbomba (Halo to ja), Kapitan Nemo, Houk (Zion), Giga Drum (Rastarege) and Pako Sarr (In my village).
Selected awards and distinctions
1st Award for Best Documentary Film – the Polish Independent Film Festival in Zawiercie; nomination for and participation in Kobieta twoja/Your Woman in the competition – the Amateur and Independent Film Festival KAN; nomination for the Polish Independent Cinema Award OFFskar for Kobieta twoja/Your Woman and Pod ciśnieniem/Under Pressure; Flisak – the Award of the President of Toruń at the TOFIFEST International Film Festival, etc.