How much of your week do you spend managing, grading or getting involved into the editorial-finishing workflow?
Elliott: I realised long ago that to be really dedicated, you couldn’t manage and grade at the same time. My trusted partners do most of the company management, as I try to focus solely on grading. We have regular catch ups, but when it’s really busy it can be 7 days a week and long hours. You can’t stop to manage in the traditional sense as your client would become annoyed.
As mentioned, I try to be 100% focused on the grade, however large or small the job is. I make sure the client is happy with what they want if they are unable to attend the grading session. One can interpret the descriptions of looks differently, so I like to discuss the look of a project by actually seeing it on the screen with the client and then agreeing the way forward. I will discuss the editor’s thoughts too and together with the online editors, I will discuss the workflow and any issues that may be involved in achieving looks that may, for example, incorporate a lot of effects.
You have recently given your grading room a refresh, including a new Baselight TWO workstation and Blackboard 2 panel. The room is now ready for HDR and 4K – do you see that as a big part of the future?
Elliott: Pretty much all of the programmes that are cut here at Directors Cut will go through Baselight for their grade. Currently we are working on an HDR version of The Runaways feature film we recently completed.
For me, HDR produces much more of a positive visual impact to the viewer than, say, going to 4K. It is a big difference, but subtle too, with real benefits regarding the enhanced immersive experience to the viewer.
Which artist inspires you the most and why?
Elliott: I’m becoming increasingly interested in all art forms as I grow older. Any artist that produces something has my admiration. I can look at a piece of architectural design and think ‘wow’ just as much as I might be gobsmacked by a painting or a piece of music. What interests me most is light. I’m a very keen photographer. I used to look for good pictures to take. Now I look for light. So, I suppose the artists that spring most immediately to mind are Turner and Rembrandt for their treatment of light.
Do you have a particular goal you would like to achieve by the end of your career?
Elliott: The way I see it, however hard you work at it, you are in a pretty privileged position to have a career involved in filmmaking. I had a few fairly rough jobs before I got into this industry and at the time I could see no way into a creative career. For me, every day grading is a day where, in another life, you could be being bombed to bits and starving to death in some warzone country, so whatever the future holds, that’s my outlook.