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The one print party

‘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.

8 Comments

  • A couple of years back there was a Kannada super hit called ‘Mungaru Male’. The main reason people went to see the movie was because people felt that it was shot very beautifully (by kannada film standards). Your images create the faces people want to see.

  • and i thought it was just a simple matter, being the producer/director of the film, for you to just tell the colorist to do what you want or f… off! i mean, after all the negotiations that you would have gone through to bring the film to the print stage, do you have to negotiate with the colorist too!

  • Which Main? What Cross? – would like to catch up with Mungaaru Male some time.
    Chandi – wish one had the luxury of saying f… off as the executor of the film!

  • No, making a low-bidget film, one has no luxury of any kind whatsoever. Certainly, not to make test prints, or stick up for what you want. It seems everyone treats you with a little bit of contempt for wanting to make a film at any cost whatsoever. But congratulations. You’ve done it. Now screen it. Please.

  • Ram, good your article has alerted me….I will be on a look out for such elderly colorists..when I come to that stage of my film… 🙂 BTW, are you wearing a tie in the snap you have put up on this page (in the THIS & THAT box)?. I think it’s NOT…but the way your logo /title has been designed and placed – it gives you a very corporate and formal look! Have your noticed it? 🙂

  • Which Main? What Cross? – is Mungaaru Male available on DVD? Any idea on that?
    Batul – yea… it is almost over… ‘negotiations’ are on for the screening…. am also waiting for a correctly graded print, whenever it happens.
    Sanjivan – heard yesterday that a couple of corporate houses are closing down thier film units…

  • Like Chandi, I never thought one had to go through such negotiations. When you finally get the proper print, I hope there would be some screenings in Kolkata, if not commercially then at least at some film festival.

  • boorback – i would like to belive that we negotiate all the time, all the while (whatever be the budget and the scale of the film). You gain some, you loose some. Once the process is over, one can only say ‘well, it could have been like that’. But then, one can also say, ‘It won’t be like this, the next time around’. part of the game…

    would definitely try for some screenings all over…

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