The Magic Of Craft

Behind The Grade: Rye Lane

Months after seeing Rye Lane on the big screen, Jack reflects on his relationship with director Raine Allen Miller and the grading process.

I have been working with Raine Allen Miller for several years now. I first met her when I was a colourist at Time Based Arts and she was a creative at Mother. She wanted to get into directing and Somesuch offered to help her make her first music video - I graded that and we have done many many projects since then. 

I knew about Rye Lane for quite some time from conversations with Raine but it was initially difficult for me to get to grade it as there were some politics that were out of our control but Raine wanted me on the project and she got her wish eventually. I graded it at Goldcrest Post in one of their grading theatres. I was a bit worried about grading at another company but they couldn’t have been nicer or more professional, I was made to feel especially welcome.. It was also nice to spend a month back working in Soho as I’ve been based in east London now for several years. Hashim who was the post supervisor on the film was a frequent visitor to the sessions and he was just fantastic to work with, so intelligent and capable with a brilliant film knowledge. We have become firm friends.

Having working with Raine so much we have developed a shorthand for how she likes things to look. A lot of this comes from her production designer Anna, who is always doing amazing work for Raine, creating sets with really interesting colour compositions and palettes. The other massive factor in the look was obviously Olan the director of photography. He was very daring and had used lenses with a very wide angle. I think we all wanted to push ourselves on our collective first studio feature film. Olan and I get on very well and we were very much aligned for Rye Lane. To be honest it was relatively easy, I just graded the footage sympathetically to how it was shot. My favourite grades are normally one’s where you work with the footage, not against it and that was definitely the case here. 

I’m not a massive fan of using LUTs creatively as the base for an entire look and I like to build my look for each project from scratch. Ninety percent of it will normally be done with primaries to be honest with some secondaries to help with separation which is something that is very much part of Raine’s aesthetic. The grade did have Goldcrest’s transform at the end of the pipeline that also natively bought in a really lovely contrast curve and saturation level. I can’t say anything else about it unless I want to get into trouble with their tech team so we shall leave it at that.

As it was shot on Alexa, Olan, Raine and myself all felt it needed some texture to make it more ‘filmy’ and so I just used the inbuilt grain function in Resolve and messed about with it throughout the grade until I felt it was at a good level across all the scenes. Towards the end we felt like the grade was looking too clean and wanted to give it something else and we experimented and realised just by adding some green bias we had a much more interesting feel. I amplified this in some scenes where we wanted to just get under the viewer’s skin a little to add a little unease, obviously not very often as it is a romantic comedy.

I’m incredibly proud of working on Rye Lane. It was a transformative process for me personally. It feels like it could be a watershed moment for people of colour in British cinema and that’s part of Raine’s genius. We are very lucky to have this amazing talent here and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

See more from Jack, here.

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