A film colorist, as defined by allaboutfilmschool.com, adjusts the color of the film to find the right balance and intensity of color for each scene of the movie. Subtle, but important.
Film colorists set the tone, literally, of a film.
I have the pleasure of knowing one of these fine film buffs. James Reyes and I attended school at Lock Haven University together studying the same major, communication media.
After graduating in 2010, he decided to pursue his dream and took a chance by moving to New York City.
James was lucky; he found a job at a nice location … movie posters covered the walls, a nice big window to see the city skyline.
But overworked and underpaid, like so many in the industry, he hit a snag and decided to pursue other opportunities.
Though, while there, he was able to add the now Oscar nominated film, “The Square,” a documentary about the revolution and uprising in Egypt, to his list of projects. He even has his own page on the Internet Movie Database, IMDB.com.
He is now freelancing and trying to find other gigs.
I wanted to catch up with my old college friend, get some insight on his career, decisions and experience, working in such a competitive industry in one of the biggest cities in the world.
LYNDSEY HEWITT: So tell me what you do exactly what is or was your official title?
JAMES REYES: I was the online conform editor, colorist, operator, and part time tech at Post Factory NY. Now I freelance.
LH: How did you decide you wanted to enter the field that you are in? Was it a decision or did it come naturally?
JR: A series of events lead me to the decision of being a colorist. But it was really all the amazing people I became friends with. They saw I had an interest in it and started pushing me toward it. I spent well over a year trying to get better at it and eventually it paid off. I always wanted to do something creative with my life and coloring is definitely an outlet to let my creative juices flow.
LH: Was it scary at first, moving to NYC?
JR: Of course. So many people and it’s so loud. But I think I was more scared of failing than moving.
LH: What are some of your current projects?
JR: I finished a short called “Ship of Fools” that my friend Nick Ramirez cut. Next week I start an indie feature called “Dogmouth.” Nothing fancy, just something to hold me over until I get something new. I’m sure I’ll have more projects lined up by the end of this month.
LH: What software do you use to do what you do?
JR: Oh man, tons. Avid and Final Cut Pro 7 for editing … I used After Effects for VFX (visual effects) and creating titles … Finally for the coloring, it depends on the project. Quick and dirty jobs can be done on Avid Symphony. For the work I do at home, I would use Davinci Resolve. It’s amazing and I recommend to anyone who wants to try their hand at coloring. For shorts and features, I used Filmlight’s Baselight and Film Master’s Nucoda. Nucoda is great at conforming but I preferred Baselight to color on. I think it was because I spent the most time on it.
LH: What are some challenges you face?
JR: Technical challenges mostly. But that comes with experience. Another was my age. People treat you different because you’re young, so I had to prove myself even more when I first started. Eventually I got the respect I deserved, but man, it was hard.
LH: Can you tell me about your work on “The Square”?
JR: “The Square” is an amazing documentary that everyone should see. It’s on Netflix. How I actually became involved on the job was through two awesome friends. Michelle Learner who is a producer at Post Factory Films and Eyal Dimant who is an awesome colorist that helped me become who I am today. They met the filmmaker I think two years ago at Sundance, where they were trying to find people to fund their projects. The filmmakers stayed in touch and things took off from there. I am so proud to have helped out on the film and I hope it wins the Oscar.
LH: You have your own IMDB page – that’s pretty sweet. In some small way, does a professional validation come from that, as well as having your name at the end of movie credits?
JR: I think so. I never realized how important credits are but it can really help open doors. I know some colorists who haven’t updated their resume in years. They don’t need to because their work speaks for itself. That is pretty awesome feeling. Not having to prove yourself, but have people go “Oh you did ‘Blah blah,’ that looked amazing!” And now I stick around at the end of movies to see the people who worked on it.
LH: What is your ultimate dream job?
JR: To run a post house. There aren’t that many mom-and-pop post houses in NYC anymore, and because of that, I think I could help create a new place that is truly “for filmmakers.” I’m giving myself five years to make that happen. I think that is enough time to get it done.
LH: Do you think you’ll live in NYC forever, or do what you’re doing, professionally speaking, forever?
JR: Probably not. I have kind of fallen in love with Boston, Mass., so I may end up moving there when I get sick of NYC. Professional? Not forever, but definitely in the same industry. A lot of folks have done that. Eventually I want to start calling the shots so maybe I’ll give directing a shot. We’ll see!
LH: What advice do you have for people interested in getting their foot in the door in the movie industry? Or perhaps for making it in New York in general.
JR: It’s going to be hard and sometimes unfair, but don’t let that discourage you. I’m not sure if this is the right term, but if you have a lot of “heart,” then it will get you somewhere. The interns I’ve seen succeed aren’t necessarily the most talented, but you can tell they want it so bad that they are willing to put in the time. So putting in the time and staying humble is definitely key to making it this industry. I would say the same for NYC. I love NYC for the fact that everyone is trying to make it. And they are just as scared as you are.
LH: Favorite film(s) of all time? Director(s)?
JR: Films – “City of God”; “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”; “No Country for Old Men”; “Assassination of Jesse James”; “Punch Drunk Love”; “The Master”; “Pulp Fiction”; and “The War Room.”
Directors – Paul Thomas Anderson; Sam Mendez; David Fincher; Terrance Malik; Shane Carruth; Martin Scorsese; and Michel Gondry.
Hewitt is the assistant lifestyle editor and also a reporter at the Sun-Gazette. “Exposure” will be printed on the last Thursday of each month. Follow @ExposureSG on Twitter to keep up with updates between columns.