LOS ANGELES — In Fox’s The Cleaning Lady, Cambodian doctor Thony De La Rosa (Elodie Yung) comes to the United States in search of medical treatment for her son. However, she must go into hiding after the system fails her. Doing whatever is necessary to survive, she becomes a cleaning lady for organized crime and uses her intelligence to forge her own path.
Graded by Picture Shop (https://pictureshop.com) senior colorist Paul Allia (pictured), the show is based on an Argentinian drama and ended up being a true passion project for him.
“When I heard about the series, I knew I had to be a part of it as it resonated deeply with me on several levels,” he explains. “I was familiar with the show as I’m from Argentina, and someone very special to me watched the original, so working on the adaptation was exciting. Also, the show highlights what many immigrants go through, as well as the strength of a mother, two themes that are very close to me, being an immigrant myself and having a very strong mother in my life. I just knew I had to grade it.”
Allia says that the grade was tied very closely to the storyline. He used Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio to help achieve the look.
“There is nothing ‘down the middle’ about this grade,” he explains. “Rather, the grade helps to tell every second of the story. One of the biggest themes for me was good versus evil, as represented through a changing color palette. Thony's house and family are always represented with warm, comforting tones, while the criminal world is dark and contrasty. Whenever the FBI is involved, the scene transcends into a more neutral and cooler grade.”
Recalling one episode in particular, Allia describes how the grade came together.
“There’s one episode where Thony and her sister-in-law spend time in a detention center. One of the series’ DPs, Alan Caudillo, had a vision for this scene to be gritty and dark with great contrast, so it connects the viewer with the rough time they are going through. It almost seems as if there is very little hope, or light, but at same time, the grade helps portray her courage and strength of mind. The light needed to be very nuanced because we wanted to portray how that light seems so far away from them. That was a great episode to work on.”
The series’ three DPs — Alan, Marshall Adams and Vanessa Joy Smith — were all “incredible to work with,” he notes. “As well as showrunner Melissa Carter and post producer Ryan Stephens. This was such a passion project for me, and one that is very close to my heart. I absolutely loved working on it.”
Photo credits (episodic): Ursula Coyote/2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.