LA colorist, Tawan Bazemore talks about his latest film working with director, Joe Eddy and cinematographer Rainer Lipski. Tawan describes the special role that color styling can play in unlocking the director's vision for a film.
'Coyote' is all about an American boy named Brian. He lives at home, has no job and has no friends. He has no meaning in life at all! After his overbearing mother forces him to work with his eccentric uncle, Brian finds himself in an unlikely friendship with an illegal Mexican laborer. The two friends embark on a dangerous adventure to retrieve two women captives in Tijuana.
"Joe Eddy is one of those directors that you just love to work with. He is very focused and knows exactly what he wants. I met Joe through another movie I worked on called 'Closure', which was directed by Marcin Teodoru. Marcin is also a brilliant editor and happened to be the senior editor on this film."
"The cinematographer they had on this film was very experienced. I love Rainer Lipiski's work, because you never have to go in there and fix it, with him all you ever have to do is style it! He is such a great cinematographer because he always knows what he can achieve onset. He is a film guy and he knows how to use a RED camera like he is one of their engineers. Anytime I get a project from him, I know it will be going straight on my reel."
"Rainer really respects the relationships he has with his colorists, so it‘s always such a joy to work on a film when he is the DOP. Rainer always wants his colorists to take initiative, and I am definitely one for doing that. There was a certain look on 'Coyote' that the director really wanted, which is yellowish and really warm. So I went crazy with the hues and kept using the parallel nodes in my Resolve to keep mixing the colors until I had the perfect look for him. Rainer too, was totally onboard with this type of look for the film."
"I was originally given some frames for 'Little Miss Sunshine' and 'Breaking Bad'. It's great to get reference like this, but you still have to create your own individual look rather than using someone else' approach. The look we had to establish was one where you can immediately tell when the characters are in the US or in Mexico, and it was important that this was very clear."
"To begin with, the look the director was hoping for was proving to be elusive. So I took the whole project home for a day or two and started to really go back into the job to work with all the parallel nodes again. When Joe came over to see the next grade, I am not too sure what he thought he was going to get. So I opened up the Mexico scenes first, and he was shouting that it was exactly what he wanted! I was just thinking to myself - 'perfect!'"
"This was the fastest grade on a feature film I have ever done before. I did all of the styling and the final grade in seven days. Which just goes to show what can be done when the director and cinematography know exactly what they want from you. The amazing thing is, that this was one of the first films Joe had ever directed."
"Styling a film is all about taking what is in someone's head and presenting it back to them. That can be pretty tough at times. When you get it right, it is euphoric, you feel so great. I get so totally blown away every time I see directors and DOPs falling in love with their work a second time. The first time is when they are onset, and the second time is when we give them the final grade."
"There was this one scene in Mexico that was particularly challenging, where they are taking the American boy to this motel room. I had to keep the primaries, but make it an orange/yellowish look like it would be in Mexico. As they came into the motel room, I had all of these windows, so I had to bring this look into the room somehow. It couldn't look like we had just thrown a plugin on it. The actors hair all had to remain black and not look like it was all maroon in color. We nailed it in the end, but it was a very complex scene to get right."
"However, the most difficult shot in the whole movie was a scene of only 30 seconds and I worked on that for a full day before I was completely happy with it. The bottom-line in this job is, to please people. I get crazy-happy about this job because, I just love to see that look of pride you see on filmmaker’s face after the grade is finished!"