‘The audience does not want to see your images. It shells out money because it wants to see faces’, declared the elderly colorist from a film laboratory in Mumbai, in an almost godly tone. His voice had a – I have seen it all, kid – kind of feel to it.
Our film which neither had Aishwarya Rai nor Penelope Cruz for people to gaze at their faces, was being graded for colors in this film laboratory. My cameraman acted as if nothing had happened. His assistant looked at me and giggled. The film negative, despite being our baby, was being high jacked!
During the beginning of the ‘color correction’ secession, the colorist had laid bare his context. He had softly but firmly said to us, ‘I will make the necessary changes to the colors, according to what I feel. Feel free to give suggestions that might occur to you.’
For this film of ours, we had decided that while doing the color correction or adjusting the look of the visuals we would go by the entire image per say. In the process if the face goes a bit dark, no nuclear bomb would fall upon us.
But the colorist was a ‘face-to-be-bright’ advocate; his worldview derived from an approach which an entire film industry feels, is very practical.
Why not? We have heard instances of cameramen being replaced like the one that happened because the hero’s face was not well lit up in a night scene that supposedly had only one street light!
With great pride the colorist narrated the story of a dark skinned Bhojpuri actor cum producer who wanted his face to be ‘brighter’. After due experimentation, a particular color was deftly modified in the frame and the actor cum producer was immensely satisfied with the result.
‘The customer is always right’, the colorist beamed. And we were just the finicky ‘one-print-party’.
By the time he understood us and we him, the first print had already come out. It was neither his baby nor ours. Fortunately for us, after a lot of cajoling and pacifying, he agreed to punch in the grading corrections that we had wanted.
We now hope to get a correctly graded print if and when the producer makes a second copy of the film.
Moral of the story – budget correctly for at least two prints or kidnap the colorist’s family so that he listens to you.