Creating the Look of “Bread Pudding”
by Adam Intriago with guest Scott Mohrman
Creating the overall look and feel of a film is a process that begins instantly after the script is finished, and if you are someone like myself, sometimes before there even is a script. It involves many processes and people to be done correctly, and if done correctly, will yield highly satisfactory results.
Though Bread Pudding was a fairly small project, the process of creating the look was no less important than if it were a big budget feature. To our entire team of filmmakers, the look is one of the most important details of our films. If a film doesn’t look like a film, then it seems to me that you are no longer watching a film and rather some kind of video that is distracting you from everything else that is trying to be a film. But no matter the project, the look should be drawn from one source, the story. So let’s begin there.
The script was actually written by one of the actors in the film, Robert John Gilchrist. The scene was pulled from a feature film he and his girlfriend (also co-star, Kelly Murtagh) have been writing, then modified to play better as a single scene short. Robert and I have been working together for a while now and he asked me to direct. The script was also written with a specific restaurant in mind, one that we had easy access to, so when reading it for the first time, it was hard not to picture that setting. Even with these preconceived notions, we attempted to create a unique look for the film.
Upon finishing the script my initial thoughts on the look were: classy, timeless, romantic, subtly dark, vague.
I immediately started working with my Director of Photography, Scott Mohrman.
The cool thing about Scott and I is that we usually see things the same way, overall at least. Composition and pacing is usually where we spend our time talking, but we usually agree on color and lighting instantly (let me know if I’m wrong on this, Scott!). After we agreed about the look, we started talking about the kind of palette we wanted to pull from. I thought, since we were going for a classy, timeless feel, that the colors should call to those of the Art Deco period.
Luckily, the restaurant that we would be shooting at already contained colors that would play well with this palette. The next step would be choosing the colors of the physical things in the film such as props and wardrobe. On the kind of budget we were on, this means looking through things the actors already own for wardrobe. Again, we got lucky, the actors had items that played perfectly with the palette.
Next, was the in camera work done by Scott; I’ll let him speak to that.
For Bread Pudding, the director, Adam Intriago and I talked about his vision for the story and the look he [wanted]. A “look” is multi-layered. It isn’t just colors and contrast. Its aspect ratio, camera movement, lighting style, composition, etc.
Every choice should be grounded in the story and the director’s vision for that story. As a cinematographer it is my job to make the director’s vision come alive. When Adam and I created our storyboards, we based our choices off the overall story and the emotions of the scenes.
The color pallet for the film is primarily made up of location, set design and wardrobe. For lighting, I [chose] to enhance the existing light of the location. I used a China Ball above the main table and a homemade Covered Wagon. I also had a DIY 6×6. All made from items at the local hardware store (except the china ball).
Framing has a lot to do with the scene and characters emotions. Its about telling the story visually and guiding your audience’s eyes.
– Scott Mohrman, Director of Photography
The final step in creating the look is Color Grading. Grading is usually done by what is known as a Colorist, but like many crew roles on indie sets, many people hold many titles, so Scott and I work together on coloring our films. This is also because Scott and I both share a more traditional definition of what a DP is and feel that the cinematographer should have a say in the final coloring to ensure the look he created in camera is only enhanced by the coloring process, rather than damaged or altered in any negative way.
At Indien, we are an Adobe house, so we color in SpeedGrade. The coloring for this film was not too in depth. Once decided on a basic grading that mostly just enhanced the colors we wanted to focus on, most of the work was simply put into matching color and light from shot to shot.
The final result is beautiful and we are all very happy with it, and we hope you love it, too.
Keep an eye out for Bread Pudding, it will be posted in the next few days!
Let us know what you think!
Thanks for reading, Cheers!