Perhaps he was taking a risk with the Barcelona-born cinematographer — Grau was 27 at the time and had only a few obscure films to his credit — but few would dispute the success of their collaboration. Following a day in the life of a grieving gay college professor planning suicide, “A Single Man” tracks his internal journey, not only with dialog and flashbacks, but also through striking images and startling changes in the film’s color palette.
Of course, directors and d.p.’s have been varying hues to advance storytelling ever since the advent of color — using different schemes to indicate states of mind or developments in the action. However, “A Single Man” pushes the technique to an extreme, with the color often shifting visibly within the same scene.
Colin Firth plays the professor, and as his feelings switch from depression to elation the colors turn from cold blues and grays to warm reds and oranges – and vice versa.
“Tom wanted the color to go according to the characters’ feelings and emotions at each point of the movie,” said Grau, “and we followed that all the way.”
To maximize this effect, Grau suggested using an older Kodak film stock, 5279, which is no longer generally available. “It has very beautiful grain, and in a way, is timeless,” Grau said. “It’s very saturated, beautiful and rich, especially the reds. We tested it along with other stocks, and Tom and I both decided this would be the one.”
The entire film was shot on 5279 35mm, including a black-and-white flashback scene in which Firth and his companion, played by Matthew Goode, sit on a dramatic rock formation. Like much of the movie, its color was altered — in this case removed — during the digital intermediate stage, when the film’s look was manipulated to Ford’s satisfaction.
“The color was taken out of the scene in DI because the image is more striking in black and white,” said Grau. “It’s an image of a memory, and there’s a black-and-white photo in the film that relates to the same memory.
“We shot various moments differently, and lit them differently as well, but then Tom changed color saturation,” said Grau, adding that Ford was a constant presence in the DI sessions. “The movie is very personal to Tom. The way it looks is the way he saw it from the beginning.”
Bookings & Signings
When Innovative Artists hired agent Eric Klein, ex-Montana Artists biz affairs director, it also brought along some of his clients. They include eight line producers/UPMs: Lewis Abel (CBS’ Numbers”), Gideon Amir (Cartoon Network’s “Ben 10: Alien Swarm”), Skip Beaudine (CBS’ “The Eastmans”), Peter Burrell (CW’s “Privileged”), Brian Campbell (NBC’s “The Listener”), Peter McIntosh (ABC’s “Wonderland”), Bob Rolsky (FX’s “The Riches) and Robert Simon (CW’s “Melrose Place”). Also moving from Montana to IA with Klein: costume designers Cate Adair (ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”) and Deena Appel (Tom Vaughan’s “Extraordinary Measures”).