LOS ANGELES — Director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk) enlisted MPC (www.moving-picture.com) colorist Mark Gethin to help define the look of his latest film, Promised Land. The Focus Features release was written by the film’s stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski, and plays as an eco-conscious contemporary drama about a corporate energy salesman whose journey from farm boy to big-time player takes an unexpected detour when he seeks to drill in a small town, where the concept of fracking has divided a rural community.
The feature was shot on film, and Gethin helped create the look of the movie’s broad panoramas, country landscapes, barrooms and homesteads. Promised Land marks Gethin’s first feature as digital intermediate colorist. He worked alongside the film’s cinematographer and frequent collaborator Linus Sandgren, who recommended the colorist to Van Sant.
Van Sant, in an effort to capture an authentic portrait of the people and farmland of the rural Pennsylvania locations where the movie was made, tapped a range of Fuji Vivid and F64 Vivid film to achieve a look resembling classic Kodachrome stills. Gethin’s job was to blend this varied footage into a unified vintage look.
“Gus and Linus had a strong vision of how they wanted the movie to feel,” notes Gethin. “Their references were old Leica or print photography, which lent a very authentic and beautiful feel to the characters and landscape without feeling nostalgic. As we defined the exterior shots, we found a sympathetic grade to the surroundings and their natural color, preserving as much detail as possible for each shot and location. It was extremely important that we take a subtle approach and not give the footage an overly stylized look.”