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Uprising: Dominic Phipps from Skateboarding to Colour Grading


LBB’s Zoe Antonov speaks to Company 3’s colourist Dominic Phipps about going from filming skateboarding videos to winning awards for colour grading, his mentors, and his excitement about the future of the grade

Uprising: Dominic Phipps from Skateboarding to Colour Grading

Dominic Phipps grew up in a small village in the Cotswolds, so any windows into the film world were few and far between. Even so, Dominic loved making videos. - Centring  them around his hobbies however he found fit and whenever he could, he would tap into the classic skateboarding videos-to-production career pipeline. 

After a few years of shooting BMX, playing in a band and making music videos for it, Dominic found out about colour grading. He was 16 years of age. “The lovely team at Quantel let me get some work experience in their offices, sitting and learning the Pablo Rio. This was a massive passion at the time, and I’d never considered it a potential job! After a day in their theatre having a go on the kit, I knew colour grading would be my career; it was captivating.” This remains true to today, where he is an award-winning colourist at Company 3.

Back in 2014, however, Dominic was just starting out. At Ravensbourne university, he did editing and post production as his Bachelor’s degree, where he came to understand the intricacies of grading - being introduced to server management, grade one monitoring, as well as Tektronix. There he also met some of his closest friends and colleagues, many of whom he grew in the industry alongside.

In his second year, Dominic started working part-time at Framestore, mainly on the weekends, which grew into something more regular in his third year. “Most of my dissertation was written while covering reception on weekend evening shifts! Once I graduated in 2017, my time at Framestore allowed me to start full-time in a data services role. From there, I moved through datalab, colour assisting and finally, junior colourist.”

Throughout all those steps, Dominic took on small side jobs to keep learning - diving right into the industry. He explains that he would have taken pretty much any work he could, regardless of the budget or how it looked. At the time, what was important to him was to get to grips with the gear - see as many camera types, project briefs, and challenges as possible. Sure enough, the variety of work he exposed himself to helped immensely, and he got to experiment with different approaches to grade, as well as try new tools.

“After every project, one of the colourists at Framestore, and now at Company 3, would sit with me and dissect the work. Simon Bourne, Steffan Perry, and Jessica Vile were instrumental in my progression, as they would explore the process and the way I balanced and set up the look, not just the result,” says Dominic. “This refined my workflow, and I got to absorb all the elements that make each of them such good colourists.”

When it comes to pinpointing his very first professional project, Dominic finds it difficult due to all of the different things he dipped his toes into when first starting out. However, what stands out the most from his early portfolio are the three live performance videos for a band called Spring King, which he did in 2018. “These were graded over multiple days, remotely, during downtime,” he says. “Having the grade be pushed in three completely different directions (along with some excellent set design) meant the video felt unique.”

Dominic continues: “This piece stands out to me as it was formative in not only the level of work I started to receive, but the fact that I went on to build relationships and grow with the team from that project into many more. Over the past four years, I have continued working closely with director Tommy Davis and DOP Toby Leary, and we relinked on Willow Kayne’s ‘White City’ just a few months ago.”

Equally, the project that changed his career the most is, to Dominic, the Wrangler Jeans ‘Long Live Cowgirls’ ad directed by Scott Pommier. He went on to win two awards for the grade on the spot - ‘Best New Colourist’ at the Kinsale Shark Awards, and Gold at the British Arrows initiative Young Arrows.

Since making skateboarding videos all those years ago, the industry has changed immensely - not just from a colouring perspective, but on a broad production level. And change is exactly what is most exciting to Dominic. “It’s essential,” he says. “It lights fires under companies old and new, and ultimately the standard of work improves across the board.” Not only this, but the silver lining of the pandemic - remote grading - is a prominent place to start, with alternative ways to offer a grading service from the other side of the world. 

To this end, although Dominic admits he loves having people in the suite alongside him, which helps create a good rapport and build a network, he remains excited about the possibility of tech advancement and remote grading. “I can cater to a much larger client base and forge relationships with new people in other time zones in a way we never could.”

Speaking of networking and relationships, Dominic has a long list of people he looks up to in the industry, not limited to the previously mentioned Simon, Steffan and Jessica. According to him, they were all the open books that shaped his personal way of working and thinking, sharing any tips and tricks they had picked up on during the course of their own careers. “I have a lot of admiration for them,” he says.

Within Company 3, Dominic is part of the ‘Company 3 For Good’ program - an employee-led collective focused on company culture, employee development, and establishing the most diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. “This also includes a mentorship program, coordinating external outreach presentations, and non-profit partnerships to encourage community involvement,” he explains. “We have been working to give presentations that educate young people who need to gain knowledge of the post-production industry, seek out schools and educational centres in underrepresented areas and dive deeper into the individual roles within our business.”

Outside of work, Dominic often finds himself out of the house. Spending more than eight hours a day in a dark room means limited access to vitamin D, which needs to be topped up once out of the suite. His medicine of choice is anything from long walks, to playing football, or a good afternoon pub garden. “I’m also a big Blackburn Rovers fan, so I’ll often leave a couple of hours on Saturday to prepare myself for disappointment from their game!”

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Company 3 London, Tue, 02 May 2023 14:46:25 GMT