Andrea Michell chats with Luke Morrison over coffee in Chicago
Luke has been heading up the colour department at the fast expanding Mill operation in Chicago for the past 20 months. He’s thriving in the city, and talked about some of the differences in his work Stateside, compared to London.
He says in London it is more typical to work closely with the director and DOP (director of photography), and that the director will lead the project through to sign off.
In Chicago the director more typically hands over after the shoot, and with commercials the advertising agency takes the lead through post. What that means for Luke is that the ad agency places more faith in his skill and judgement to interpret the look, the image and their client’s needs.
Another big plus is the general working atmosphere. He says in Chicago it feels more of a family atmosphere and less dog eat dog. There’s a flavour of mid-Western hospitality and easy going-ness, driven by knowing underneath everyone will really pull out all the stops to deliver.
Being a colourist, he says, is about understanding the director or the creative’s intent for the piece, to create consistency and adding or reinforcing the message they are trying to get across to the viewer.
The exciting jobs are the ones where you can push the boundaries and discover something new. Most often the job is about keeping colour true to life but adding a more filmic quality. He says with colour it is subtle, it is objective. Colourists do have a bit of a language of their own, with talk of milky blacks, and peaky highs.
Rescuing a shoot in the colour suite happens more often than you think.
We often get rushes where it is meant to be a shoot in bright hot sunshine, but it is rainy and overcast and you have to get that summer beach feeling. Generally, yes, we can do it.
Outside The Mill Luke is keen on travel as a way of changing perspective and expanding his outlook. He is doing a photography project that involves travelling to different locations and photographing what he finds there over the course of eight hours of a day.
His personal ethos is to respect the old ways, to do things himself, rather than conform to mass produced consumer society. A keen foodie, he makes his own biltong, the traditional smoked preserved meat from South Africa.
Luke’s creative heroes are Jean Michel Basquiat, filmmaker Wes Anderson. Currently he’s listening to the Budos Band, along with South Korea’s classic psychedelic rock star phenomenon Shin Joong Hyun.