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Behind the Title: EFilm colorist Mitch Paulson

NAME: Mitch Paulson

COMPANY: Hollywood’s EFilm

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
EFilm is a Deluxe company that provides digital finishing for a lot of major feature releases. The company has been around for more than 20 years and was among the very first to do high-end, digital finishing for features.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Colorist.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I’m responsible for coloring the movie, which involves many different kinds of changes to the images. Some of the work involves “fixing” something that might have had a little issue with exposure or color temperature or making small adjustments to help the shots flow together in a seamless way. It also involves working with the director and cinematographer on creating a “look” for each scene or for the whole movie. A lot of that process is about creating different options on my own so that there’s something concrete to discuss when I work with them.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
A lot of the job has to do with working as a mediator between everyone involved in the project. It might be that my ideas and the director’s and DP’s are all a bit different, and a lot of what I’ll do during a session is work out ways to help bring everyone together. It’s very easy for discussions about a “look” to get very abstract, and it always helps for me to be able to quickly show everybody examples of how a certain color choice will affect the scene overall.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
The moment when I’m working with a client who has a vision that he or she can’t quite verbalize and I create something that is just what they were hoping for. It’s like a breakthrough. We both get excited about it, and that’s when I most love what I do.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
There are times in this job where you don’t get to go home for days at a time.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
When it comes to my work, my favorite time of day is when I first come in in the morning and look at the work I did last, but with fresh eyes. You can work on a scene for a long time and get used to a certain look, but when you look at it again the next day you see it more like a viewer would while watching the movie. That’s the time I can really feel if something works or if it needs more finessing.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d probably be a compositor. My first job was as a compositor on movie trailers back when digital intermediate finishing was becoming available. My bosses brought in a film master and asked me to color the trailer and I fell in love with the work. I tie my early compositing experience in with what I do today. There are a lot of similarities.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I knew in high school that I wanted to work in the movie industry. I originally was fascinated by 3D animation around the time of Toy Story and I studied it in school.

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Warner Bros’ If I Stay is just one of the projects that Paulson has worked on recently.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
There are a lot. Off the top of my head, I’d mention If I Stay and Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I think if I could only name one, it would have to be Skyfall. It was my third feature with one of my favorite DPs — Roger Deakins [ASC, BSC] — I also worked with him on In Time, True Grit and Prisoners — it was so beautifully shot and such an important project, and it was part of an enormous franchise. I got to go to London to work on it. It was just a great experience working with Roger and Sam Mendes, and I’m very happy with the results.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I use Autodesk Lustre and I still find it to be the best tool for the way I like to work. I love my Sony Bravia XBR TV. To me, it’s one of the best consumer TVs that I’ve been able to find that can represent my work the way it was intended. I use my iPad for all kinds of things, both for my job and for my own personal uses.

We have an app called Colorstream that cinematographers and directors can use to communicate “look” ideas using images they take with an iPad. They can send me images or notes or both and the data can be incorporated as part of a session.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I’m on Facebook and Instagram.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
When I’m unsupervised I always have music on. I’m generally working before or concurrent to the mix so I don’t have access to the actual music that will be used.

I try to get the type of music that will work with the movie I’m working on so I can get into the mood of the movie.

Back when I worked on the show Clone Wars at Skywalker Ranch, I had all the soundtracks from the Star Wars movies, and when the director would come to review the episode, he would want me to play the music.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I’m a big hockey fan. I go to a lot of Kings’ games. I also play recreationally on a team called Burbank Breeze. It’s definitely a good way to de-stress from the work.


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