Lovesong, a feature film directed by So Yong Kim, stars Riley Keough and Jena Malone as Sarah and Mindy, a pair of friends with an intimate bond that intensifies into something more. Their story is told across two periods in their lives, with Kim collaborating with cinematographers Guy Godfree and Kat Westergaard as well as Nice Shoes colorist Sal Malfitano to develop two color palettes that created a contrast between the two time periods, while maintaining the continuity of the overall film. Lovesong will be debuting and competing in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
The director and both cinematographers met with Malfitano early in the editing process to review the footage and determine a direction for the color. The team agreed on a natural and honest look that would differ slightly across the two halves of the film, accentuating the time change and the evolution of each character. After this first screening, Malfitano worked separately with Godfree and Westergaard under Kim’s direction to craft the subtle differences of each portion of the story.
“The approach of the film is very subtle. It’s very honest and genuine in the portrayal of the love that grows between these two characters. The first half is a bit lower in contrast, warm, and gentler. It’s an introduction to Sarah and Mindy,” said Malfitano. “When the film revisits them three years later, more cool tones come in, a bit more contrast which I think supports how their relationship has aged and distanced at that point in the story.”
“Sal understood perfectly what the film and the story demanded from color grading. Working closely with Kat Westergaard and Guy Godfree, we came up with a plan to seep into the subconscious level of the viewer rather than screaming out the emotional cues per se,” said director So Yong Kim. “We took a different approach in the work process than I was used to with the color as well. Normally, I only have a few intense days to color grade all crammed together at the end of the post-production schedule. The plan at Nice Shoes proposed by Sal was to spread this work over a few months. In this way, it gave us time to consider the choices we were making. Sal helped us consider each and every frame, and the process was a great benefit to the film.”
Malfitano wanted his work on the film to echo the storytelling crafted by the director, and stressed the importance of the color in supporting, but not overwhelming, the final imagery.
“There is a real honesty to the film. The chemistry and interactions between the main characters feel genuine,” concluded Malfitano. “I found that in my collaborations with So, Guy and Kat that we always worked to use color in service of the story. We wouldn’t have wanted to do an over-stylized look and take away from the authenticity of the film.”