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Lewis Crossfield Taking the Politics Out of Colour


LBB’s Zoe Antonov sits down with Lewis Crossfield, colourist at Coffee & TV, to understand more about the role of a colourist in a production and the importance of trust in the process

Lewis Crossfield Taking the Politics Out of Colour

Lewis Crossfield is Coffee & TV’s exciting new arrival, joining the company with a heap of incredible experience, having worked with some of the most prominent directors in the industry. He’s recently been shortlisted for two British Arrow Craft Awards for Penny ‘The Rift’, directed by Seb Edwards. As well as V&A ‘Creativity. It’s what makes us’, directed by Georgia Hudson.

Growing up with an immense love of film and all the ‘big dorky sci-fi stuff’ he didn’t ever think about who makes all that big dorky stuff he loves. Learning about the different roles, Lewis was enchanted, and especially so from the post-production side of things. To this day, the technical side is what he loves most and that shows through his intricate work.

LBB’s Zoe Antonov spoke to Lewis to find out about the importance of colour, his own journey to it and his new role at Coffee & TV.

LBB> What was your pipeline to colour - how did you pick the specialism and what is the path one has to go down to get to where you are in your career?

Lewis> I actually wanted to be an editor, which I later found out that loads of colourists initially wanted to be. I didn’t know grading existed. Now, you can pick up Resolve for free but when I was younger, it wasn’t financially accessible. When I started out, I spent a lot of time with The Mill’s colour team, they really took me under their wing (thanks guys). It was such an amazing department and I learnt a lot from their talent back then. It would have just been wrong to have been surrounded by all that and not to have become a colourist! I just got into the industry however I could, and you can still do that, but there are more structured educational routes now too. I like to think I took every opportunity going, got as much creative variety into my diet as possible. Those early jobs shot on Canon 5Ds in a dark room with no lights, you learn so much from that hard stuff when you’re setting out. 

LBB> Tell me about the project that changed your career and solidified your creative style and direction.

Lewis> I don’t so much have a style, I like things to look how I like them to look and that changes depending on what suits the picture. The picture guides me where I need to go. When I first worked with Ringan [Ledwidge] though, he’d directed those huge Nike commercials and then I did Massive Attack’s ‘Voodoo in the Blood’ with him. I was super young. I’m not sure if it changed my career, but I knew I was doing alright and it spurred me on.

LBB> And speaking of style, how does a colourist in the commercial world develop a style and are you allowed to have one or is it more a case of what is needed?

Lewis> Yes, I think some colourists have particular styles and they’re sought out for that. Others just make anything look good and they’re sought out for that. A lot of it is relationships and trust, that’s the common link between the approaches, there has to be that trust. 

LBB> What is the importance of colour to you and how do you approach a brief once you receive it? How many iterations do you usually go through?

Lewis> Colour is important to me not just because that’s what I do, but because it’s a huge part of a greater picture. You don’t want to get too egotistical about it. It’s one component, with its own role, but everything needs to work together. I’ll look at the client’s references and find my own –things I’ve done, or things other artists have done – and start bringing together what this particular world looks like. On iterations, I just keep going until it’s right. 

LBB> And what is the process of getting to the right place - how do you know you've achieved what is needed?

Lewis> Everyone goes home! But there is a point where I know it’s done. I just know it’s right. I can watch it and I almost don’t take the grade in, I don’t pay attention to it. It sits perfectly. 

LBB> Tell me about your most fun project and your takeaways from it?

Lewis> ‘You Can’t Handcuff The Wind’, the music video for Julian Barrett’s ‘Mindhorn’ character. It was shot by a good friend of mine, Will Hanke. The film itself is all about a washed-up actor, who also ‘did a few singles’ in the ‘80s. And this is one of his videos from the ‘80s. Will shot it exactly like an ‘80s video, we ran it through a VHS and stuff. We all just got to play around and work with Julian Barrett. Julian said it was the best thing he’s ever seen, really!  

LBB> What about your most challenging? How did you overcome those challenges?

Lewis> All projects have challenges. But honestly, the only jobs that are incredibly difficult are when the circumstances are hard. When politics creep in and relationships come into it. Those require a lot of difficult work. 

LBB> Speaking of relationships, who do you think a colourist's relationship should be the strongest with from the rest of the team?

Lewis> I honestly don’t think there is one person. It’s about working productively with all the stakeholders and maintaining that trust that we spoke of earlier. You’re the keeper of quality and consistency, the balancer of opinions. 

LBB> What is the most exciting thing on the horizon for you?

Lewis> It’s honestly Coffee & TV. I’ve just started and I love where they’re going. I joined because they truthfully have such a unique approach to the work environment. It’s a place full of people just really enjoying their work. I love grading, so I just want to get on with that, and it’s a place that I think facilitates that in a way that nowhere else quite does. It’s genuine. And the colour team is amazing, they’re bringing some exciting people through the door. We hear a lot about how the company is ‘good’ in an ethical sense, but the creative work is incredible too and I’m so happy to be part of that team. 

LBB> What are your passions and hobbies outside of work?

Lewis> I just try and get outside as much as possible. I spend a lot of time in a dark room, looking at a screen. I like to get out and yomp in the countryside, walking, on my bike, sometimes taking photos. I just get out and see the world.

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Coffee & TV, Fri, 26 May 2023 16:03:24 GMT