Andi Chu, colourist at Black Kite Studios, talks to us about her favourite pieces of work to date - and why she relishes being the person who is there at the final stage of a project, before it goes out into the world.Born and raised in Taiwan, Andi Chu first visited the UK when she was 18. She headed straight for Macclesfield in Cheshire, as an avid fan of indie doom-mongers Joy Division, she made a pilgrimage to the grave of Ian Curtis, to pay her respects to the memory of the band's ill-fated lead singer.A few years later Andi returned to the UK when she transferred her studies from architecture to performance design where she specialized in Digital Scenography at Central St Martins in London. After her time at St Martins ended she remained in London, and joined Soho-based post house Absolute Post as a runner. At that point she knew very little about the colourist's role, but her introduction to the art and craft of grading quickly turned into a long-term fascination.“Film has always had a big influence on me growing up," she says. "The fact that I didn't know that colourists existed shocked me. But of course, they do such a good job staying hidden..."It’s that final finishing touch, and I really enjoy that.“Since living in London, my scene musically has become electronic and techno. It was through grading music videos that I reconnected with the original genre of music that I loved, that brought me to the UK in the first place.”Starting her career in the machine room at Absolute and moving up to a colour assistant position, she then went on to join the colour team as an assistant at Electric Theatre Collective. In April 2021 she joined Black Kite Studios - one of London's newest VFX, post and colour studios, as a colourist. She continues to relish that 'hidden' role of the colourist, and the fact that it is one of the very final steps in the filmmaking process. "I enjoy being there at the very end to tie all the last stages of the film together, I find it peaceful and satisfying" she reflects."What more can we add? What more does it need? It’s that final finishing touch, and I really enjoy that the grading suite is the place where the team can get back together in one room - It’s a very thoughtful and reflective space. And then, that is it, the death of the author. Once it leaves the room, it belongs to the audience.”HUSKY LOOPS - TEMPO (Dir: Tom Ringsby)"One of the first projects I did was with my friend Tom Ringsby - who has gone on to set up Intergalactic Studios [with Rhory Danniell]. I had just started colour assisting at Absolute. The project was for Husky Loops - my friend Petro was the drummer, and we were living together in a warehouse in Seven Sisters at the time - and everything was very spontaneous.It was after that job that I realised I could do this.It required a little bit of extra thought to get it into the right place. The project itself was shot in a spontaneous and experimental way, so we wanted to honor that in the grade and let it breathe, whilst giving it a bit of a look to bring it all together. I really enjoyed those days when you're working with your friends, and everyone is coming up together. Looking back, I still think that was one of my coolest collaborations. It was very raw and natural and sincere from every side. It was definitely after that job that I realised I could do this, and I wanted to do this."ANDY STOTT - HARD TO TELL (Dir: Rebecca Seldori)"All the projects I did at Absolute were passion projects with good friends. It wasn't until I got to ETC that I started to understand the concept of having clients and explored that new dynamic of collaboration. But at ETC I also worked with a friend of mine, Rebecca Salvadori.The video with Rebecca was for Andy Stott. I think it was the first music video I worked on that was for electronic music, and it was a really nice one. As Rebecca is a video artist, it's an alternative piece, so I was quite mindful that I didn’t really want it to look too trendy or mainstream. I wanted to embrace the DIY element in her clips, but also find the right balance between that and something more polished."DECLAN MCKENNA - RAPTURE (Dir: Jocelyn Anquetil)"Declan McKenna was also a fun one. It was very performative, a lot going on in the film. Jocelyn, the director, comes from a theatre background - she studied performance design at Central Saint Martins, like me. So it was very performance focused."We wanted a grim look, it was the end of the world after all, comically. We wanted to almost do a bleach bypass - really harsh on the eyes. Bleach bypass is quite an outdated look (in my taste), but I would say it's very impactful. The aim was to achieve a more modern look based on this effect."YARD ACT - 100% ENDURANCE (Dir: James Slater)"James [Slater] is exactly the kind of director that I love working with. He is a film buff. You can see that from the way he thinks and the way he talks. I think it was really impressive that he stuck to his style with this video [which features actor David Thewlis]. I can imagine filmmakers tailoring the whole idea around the big name in the film. But he didn't do that. He just brought him into the Yard Act world, and achieved this harmony in the universe he created. This is the most inspiring skill from a filmmaker for me - world-building. This is what I am contributing towards as a collaborator, as a colourist.We were toying around with whether to go into colour at all...This is a filmic black and white look. We were toying around with whether to use colour in some moments,or if we should stay in black and white for the whole video. And if it were to go into colour, what thetransition would feel like.Ultimately we thought it made sense for it to go back into colour at the end of the video - but try to mimic the emulation, even when it goes back to colour. We took inspiration from season four of the TV series version of Fargo [which also features David Thewlis] when they go into colour in episode 9."MØ - NEW MOON (Dir: Fa & Fon)"This was with the Riff Raff directing duo Fa & Fon - my favourite twin sisters. A very mad production with a lot of details where their design background shined through, this was their first music video ever. It was a pleasure to work with DP Ahmet Husseyin too.We all kind of agreed, without much discussion, that we wanted the video to look classica’- clean, without distorting the hue too much. I had Peter Paul Rubens’ paintings in the back of my head the whole time, but again, modern.We ultimately wanted to keep it clean because it didn't need any more pop culture emphasis. The song itself has that atmosphere and the edit is already classical. So we decided the grade should be stripped back too to allow her singing to be the most ‘pop’ part of the piece."SAMSUNG GALAXY - AWESOME IS EVERYONE (Dir. Keith Schofield)"Since joining Black Kite I started to work on some commercial projects too. At the beginning of the year, I graded a Samsung campaign, with Keith Schofield. It was a dream come true - I have always wanted to work with Keith. Keith teamed up with Kaname Onoyama, who is one of my favourite DPs, so it was amazing when he put my name forward for this. It was a fun project, I love Keith’s signature humor in his quirky work, and it was the goal for the colour work to reflect this spirit. It's really out-there, which we celebrated with the grade." How has the pandemic affected your work?A lot of remote grades are still happening - as with the Samsung job. So we are definitely still feeling the effect of the pandemic. It's a new kind of challenge for us, because everybody is looking at things on a different monitor, a different screen which poses a new challenge.But it's fun. In fact, I find that the iPhone is actually really good to review work on, because it's calibrated really nicely. And obviously a lot of people have them.• Andi Chu is a colourist at Black Kite Studios. Watch her work here.
Promonews - 16 days ago