<I>Day Shift</I>: Shooting & grading J.J. Perry's directorial debut
Adrian Pennington
August 25, 2022

Day Shift: Shooting & grading J.J. Perry's directorial debut

Jamie Foxx stars as a pool cleaner who moonlights as a vampire killer in director J.J. Perry’s action-comedy Day Shift. Produced by Chad Stahelski ( John Wick franchise) from a screenplay by Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten ( Army of the Dead, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum), the new feature was shot by cinematographer Toby Oliver, ACS, with FotoKem senior colorist Alastor Arnold handling the DI.

Day Shift is Perry’s feature directorial debut, after a strong career as a stunt double, stunt coordinator and second unit director on iconic action films such as Mortal Kombat, Avatar, Argo, Oldboy, Django Unchained, Gemini Man, The Fast and Furious series, and John Wick: Chapter 2

Oliver says he immediately clicked with Perry and loved his vision for Day Shift. 

“J.J. wanted it to look slick and cool, and most importantly, to have that hot LA vibe, which we pushed as hard as we could,” says the cinematographer.

“J.J. wanted Day Shift to actually feel like summer in LA,” adds Stahelski. “We have a bit of smog here, of course, and while it’s not good for your health, the golden haze gives rise to some of our greatest sunrises and sunsets. So, we wanted to crank up the color to get that golden glow.”

Perry and Oliver tested several cameras before choosing Red Monstro, including three Ranger bodies plus a Weapon. They were enthusiastic about Red’s compact Komodo camera. 

“We needed a lot of compact cameras for the stunt work and Komodo at 6K was ideal for mounting on walls or hiding behind ramps,” says Oliver. “Some of the most beautiful and dynamic shots we achieved are with an FPV drone flying with a Komodo. It gave us great quality to cut in with the main camera.”

The movie was shot on location in the San Fernando Valley, with interiors and a few locations shot in Atlanta. The production utilized FotoKem’s NextLab, and final color was completed at FotoKem’s Burbank headquarters. 

Prior to Day Shift, Oliver and Arnold had previously collaborated on The Dirt, Happy Death Day 2, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, and Fantasy Island. And, they are set for his next project, Choose Love

“Toby is one of my most prolific collaborators,” notes Arnold.  “We’ve built trust, and a shorthand.” 

This was Arnold’s first collaboration with Stahelski and Perry, and Stahelski was enthusiastic in the collaboration, noting “I appreciate the camaraderie that’s part of making a picture and that’s why it was so good to work with Al and J.J. To cheer and laugh and high five with each other on something you care about is a lot more than producing.”

In terms of setting the look, “J.J. and Toby shot tests on set in Atlanta with the talent for look development,” recalls Arnold. “We worked hard to come up with something that would embrace HDR, be cinematic and help enhance the story. Once the look was established in pre-production, it was easy to jump in on the final grade. I understood what they were going for, and we always try and remain true to the cinematographer’s vision. You can always experiment, but having a strong foundation empowers the process.”

Day Shift is a story that unfolds in two worlds — the scorching summer of the Valley and the cool, dark world where the vampires live.

“We wanted to clearly differentiate these different spaces,” says Arnold. “The vampire spaces are always aggressively air conditioned, dim and moody, in contrast to the bright, hot heat of San Fernando. We really pushed the HDR to accentuate these differences. HDR allows a much wider palette to work with and it was fun to pull things apart in a creative way.”

Arnold created only one hero LUT. 

“When we got into the grade, we strayed a little and played with things a bit, but there was one color pipeline that set up the look,” he adds. “Once we were in the suite, we had what we needed to bring the film to life. It is filmic but cranked to differentiate and embrace the duality.”

Stahelski, who journeyed through the DI at FotoKem, notes, “I’m a big fan of ‘until you have too much, you never have enough,’ so I wanted to go to extremes. Let’s go to extremes then rein it back in. It’s artistically freeing and fun to be in a safe space with someone like Al, who doesn’t mind if we make huge mistakes or swinging big and then coming back. That said, J.J. and his team nailed it in working with parameters of the lighting and the cameras on set so that in the DI we just accentuated the work they did.”

“Working with a new colorist, you learn new tricks since everyone has their own process,” explains Stahelski. “To go through that with someone as enthusiastic and as knowledgeable as Al was a kick. Once you give him a thread to an idea, he takes it to the next level. I love Al not just because he has a great resume but because he loves his job – he’s game for anything we wanted to try.”

Arnold graded Day Shift using Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, which included working with VFX from a number of vendors, including Crafty Apes, Mammal, Factory, Pixel Magic, Mackevision, Pixemondo, Temprimental Films and the Netflix in-house group.  

Day Shift was a great project, and I had a blast working on it with Chad and J.J. and Toby,” Arnold concludes. “Color is a core piece of filmmaking, and this film was creatively exciting because its different looks were key elements of the story. It’s a great honor to work with people whose work you admire and have fun doing it.”

Day Shift premiered on Netflix, August 12th.