“There’s a scene where Jessie and Julie’s characters have an argument in their apartment. We were initially in the living room, and ended up following them through the flat until Julie opens the front door and leaves while Jessie is standing in the doorway,” Steel continues. “It seems like nothing, but the light can change quite a lot as the door opens and closes, which in turn changes the color in the foreground. We had to ensure there was subtlety in the way we manipulated the exposure throughout the scene, so that the audience could see just enough. It turned out to be one of my favorite moments.”
Establishing a Vibrant Look
Using films like The Godfather as inspiration, Harper, Steel and Grattarola next worked to ensure there was a difference between the lighting and aesthetics of Glasgow and those of Nashville, all while creating a distinct look from the muted tones an audience might expect of a British indie.
“We knew that color was going to be quite an important element to Wild Rose,” Steel reveals. “We didn’t want to just have a grey, desaturated Scotland and a colorful, vivid America. We wanted to maintain some color in the main production design throughout. I hate subdued skin tones; I like to see the blood pulsing through people!”
Using his own copy of DaVinci Resolve and a laptop on set, Steel explains he would grade stills from set into a look book of ideas. “By no means am I a great colorist, but sometimes the CDL doesn’t translate,” he adds. “With stills, you can portray how it actually felt on set, and that can then help inform the final grade.”
Together, with Simone, Harper and Steel would discuss how the DI could reflect the characters’ emotions to further develop Steel’s initial look book of ideas. “Throughout the whole film we kept a fair amount of contrast and added some texture with cine grain,” Grattarola adds. “The saturation was pushed to complement the vibrancy of the music on the film, especially once we got to the scenes in the US where Rose-Lynn was fulfilling her dream. We also helped to darken or lighten several shots from a party scene which was shot over a whole day, but needed to blend to look like it took place at twilight.”
“We were only initially grading the feature, but to help with delivery for production we became more involved with the conform and picking up VFX shots,” he continues. “Resolve’s editing toolset allowed us to trim some sequences and keep up with the updating VFX shots from our Nuke and Flame suites without having to round-trip to another NLE.”
All in all, it all went towards ensuring the team’s initial aim – to tell a unique story authentically – was achieved for the world to see. “There’s a moment in the film after Rose-Lynn comes back from America, a very quick shot of her watching her kids watching TV. It’s a close up on a 35mm anamorphic, and you feel like you’re right there with her,” Steel explains.
“This isn’t a film about the perfect talent easily overcoming all her difficulties to become a star. This is a film about how there’s light and dark in everyone. Rose-Lynn isn’t perfect, and you feel all that emotion as she reflects on her children. When I see that shot, all I can think is wow, we got that one right.”
Wild Rose was delivered in P3 for DCP cinema delivery and REC709 for broadcast and DVD.