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May 12, 2023

Episode 1 - Unraveling the Storm: Color Grading Supercell with Mark Todd Osborne, CSI

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We had the incredible opportunity to chat with senior colorist and founder of MTO Color , Mark Todd Osborne, about his journey in the industry and his recent work on the film Supercell. Join us with your beverage of choice!

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0:00:00 - Mark Todd Osborne
I'd set this awesome look over what I thought was awesome And then the next day I came back in and I go oh my gosh, i realized I could have done that. Look that I did yesterday. So much better. 

0:00:25 - Jason Bowdach
Hi and welcome to Color and Coffee, a podcast that focuses on the craft of color grading. I'm your host, Jason Bowdach, and each week we will sit down with some of the most talented and creative colorists in the industry and have a casual chat from one colorist to another. We'll share their stories, their techniques, their insights and, most importantly, their beverage of choice. Strap in, grab your beverage of choice. You're listening to Color and Coffee. Today. I am sitting down with senior colorist Mark Todd Osborne. He runs MTO Color Incorporated. Welcome to the show, Mark. Thank you so much for joining us today. 

0:01:05 - Mark Todd Osborne
Thanks, jason, i appreciate it. It's fun to be here. I've got my coffee in this cup and, of course, my water in the MTO cup. I rarely get to use this little cup, so it's perfect for today. 

0:01:17 - Jason Bowdach
I was going to ask you. You lead me into probably the most important question on the podcast, which is what is your beverage of choice and what are you currently sipping on right now? 

0:01:25 - Mark Todd Osborne
Oh for coffee, average of choice in the coffee world. Well, I'm a simple guy like sort of a donut shop, medium, bold kind of mix. 

0:01:35 - Jason Bowdach
Very, very cool. I am a fan of donut shop as well. Very, very good choice, my friend. This is my first cup of many of the day and I'm sipping on some Starbucks Blonde espresso roast right now. So pretty standard and average as well. Nothing too complicated. 

0:01:52 - Mark Todd Osborne
Yeah, I don't. I know there's a lot of more coffee connoisseurs out there, but I'm not one of them. I used to be years back, but nowadays I just keep it pretty simple. 

0:02:05 - Jason Bowdach
Awesome. I mean it's important to have your choice of beverage in your suite, And I mean I have water here too, so it's good We're staying hydrated during the suite. We spend a lot of time in dark rooms, So real quick, we've been friends for a while, but for people that haven't met you before, give us a quick gist of a little bit of your background. You've been all over the place. You spend what I believe is 12 years at Company 3 working on some amazing films, from Pirates to Bad Boys 2 to Capote, to one of my favorite horror films it follows. But give us a quick rundown of your career. 

0:02:41 - Mark Todd Osborne
Yeah, it started at Company 3 back in 97, in November of that year, right two months after they opened Company 3. So there was only about seven of us And it was great. I got to work with all the biggest DPs and and built a career there And then, in 2009, it was time to leave. People have been telling me for years you need to just have your own company, And I was, quite frankly, nervous about being. I didn't want to be a full post-house, because I've seen what it takes to run a full post-house and it's. It's stressful to have all of that on your shoulders and having Netflix call you 24 hours a day wondering why titles were not added to a particular program, you know. So I didn't want that. 

So what I did want is the flexibility, and so I've created this company that is flexible. So I get clients that say, mark, i only need color and export, that's it. Just give us the clips back, we'll put it all together on our end, and I have a price point for that. Then, once in a while, i get a friend that says I'm doing a Netflix documentary, like I did, you know, a couple years ago, and it was a big one And so they needed full end to end solution. So I partner with different post houses to do that. So we just did the HDR work over at that place and they did the hand of the deliverables, you know, and I just made the deal that makes everybody happy. I get my piece, they get what they need to take care of all their employees, so it works out really well. So again, it's sort of flexible. It just depends on the needs of the client And we scale what we do for what the client needs for that particular job. 

0:04:18 - Jason Bowdach
And you lead me right into my next question, which is as a follower of you on Instagram and a follower of your work. One of your recent pieces of work really caught my eye, and it is Supercell. I'm a huge fan of Twister And when I first saw Supercell on your reel, the first thought was, oh my God, is this the unofficial sequel to Twister? And, aside from it, my connection to Twister? I thought it was just a gorgeous looking film, so I just wanted to hear a little bit more about your process with it, and you said it was sort of a unique grading experience. So I thought I'd ask you a little bit more about the film. 

0:04:56 - Mark Todd Osborne
Well, thanks. Yeah, i'm very excited about it for a few different reasons. Every director's film is their passion project And I do get a lot of calls sometimes before I start a job that the director is kind of basically ensuring that you're going to give them, that you're all on this. We need your extra help, and I always do anyway. But the director, jamie Winister, and had called me about three months prior to doing the coloring that movie they were in the visual effects process at the time And he sort of did the same plea where he's like Mark, we have fought so hard. 

This is a movie that, he goes, could have been and should have been, like a big Warner. It's got the feel of a of a tentpole Warner Brothers twistery type movie. Right, he said, but we didn't have that kind of budget. It's an independent, it's a lower budget but with so much ambition. So Jamie called me and just said Mark, this has over 450 visual effects And these aren't paintouts, this is a twister world, a storm, and Jamie himself was a storm chaser a few years back. So he did this and he wrote a film about it. So that's what's kind of cool is, he knows. So he was so particular about the mark. When you get these visual effects, you know I need you to tweak them because some of them aren't still feeling like a real storm. And he would tell me the colors of the storm. He would say, ok, the visual effects guy got it close, but you need it. It's a lot bluer at this point or it's a lot more golden. There's a scene in the movie when they're running right when a twister starts hitting close by and they're running into their, their bands. Everything goes well. He wanted it to go yellow And I asked him. I said that really for real. He says, yeah, it's like you're in this yellowy dust cloud world with the way the sun is hitting the twister, and so he taught me a lot about what what twisters look like. I had no idea coming into this movie. So, yeah, i mean he was just so specific with the look and tone of this movie. Oh, and the best part is he's a big Steven Spielberg fan And he designed and storyboarded out all the shots to be very reminiscent of early Spielberg work, such as Close Encounters, et. 

There's even a shot of Duel. There's a phone booth shot that's just reminiscent of a shot with Dennis Weaver in Duel. They had 20 days to shoot a movie 20 days is not a lot And there's so much big stuff in it. And he says, mark, i only got 30% of the dolly camera work that I needed to do, that I wanted to do. 30% only made it on the screen. There was 70% that I really wanted to do but they just didn't have the time to do it. 

But in that first few minutes of the movie I got to tell you this is no joke When I saw the reference movie. I always watched the reference movie before I started grade And I got so into it. But some shots made me very heartfelt and reminiscent, got me emotional, because movies gave me a love for the cinema And then it helped me branch out into other directors, of course. So seeing this movie was just such a I don't know a love letter to Spielberg And in such a you know, if they only had a little bit more money, i always like to say my grade will help add a few million to the look of your film. That's what I try to do And I'm known for it, so I'm very happy about that film. Supercell. 

0:08:20 - Jason Bowdach
I am super excited to see it. One of the things that I have experienced myself that you just explained is when you, when you get a new project and you're starting to go through it and you go through that reference file and you're just like, oh wow, this is a big responsibility that I have to do. So I completely understand. that Was there any rating challenges that you had. 

0:08:40 - Mark Todd Osborne
You know, the visual effects artist had a lot on his hands. He had a lot of pressure on him. Jamie, the director could have worked on these visual effects to the end of time, of course, and there's a point where you've got to stop, and I get it, you know and I get it. So there just were certain effects that if we lifted up the brightness a little too much and Jamie and I felt it made you more aware of the visual effect. Once you found a good resting place for your mid range and your black level, it made the visual effect more realistic. So we found that we we had an idea of how we wanted the brightness for the movie until we saw the visual effects. Then I realized the visual effects are going to drive where the brightness is in this movie. We had to work backwards. Once I made the visual effects good, then the shots around it had to blend into that. So that's not uncommon, but it's just a little different than probably where we would have gone if we could have put maybe a little more. Not that the movie needed to be bright. I mean I know that. I think Jamie told me at the beginning this movie is going to stay low. It's going to be darker overall, so get ready for that. 

Probably limited our choices about where we could take exposure, because we had to keep it at a certain level in order to keep the believability of the effects, you know, for the audience. So, but then so we just backtrack. I go okay, because I might have a shot that I'm leading into. I love the look of that shot. Then it cuts to a visual effect of the twister through the windshield And we're just like, oh man, we got to bring this down more. So that just dictated the shot before it needs to come down a little further, you know, to match what we see in the visual effect. But no, it wasn't a big deal, but that was something that we had to contend with throughout grading the film. 

0:10:23 - Jason Bowdach
Totally, i mean. So essentially you, you had to shift a little bit and make the VFX pseudo hero shots is what I'm hearing because there were so many of them And because they were so important, not only to the director but setting the tone of the film. 

0:10:38 - Mark Todd Osborne
Exactly. And and there one another challenge technically was is he? I had to constantly ask the director and he was with me. This is one where I do a lot of stuff, where I'm with the clients. The first day set looks for a few hours, they leave, then I've got the film to myself for the next few days. Then they come back on the on the last couple of days, couple of days, but Jamie needed to be with me. You know he was here at my place for days and for most of the days he gave me a few on my own, but for the most part it was good to have him there because I could. I needed him to guide me to. 

He kept telling me oh wait, now when we're in this area, the movie starts gradually getting darker as it goes along. So there are two points where I'd have to say well, once, where are we at here? He go well, because again, as they, as they went into the storms, there's different levels of darkness. He took us to a scary level by the end of the movie that I was like dude, we're hitting Game of Thrones last episode here. 

You sure you want to go this dark? You're going to have people mad at both of us. But but you know what, again, i try to whenever I get in that situation, i still give you something to see that you see enough of what you're supposed to see. There might be areas that are black or dark and muddled, because there's there's, you know it's, it's Alec Baldwin is in this scene And you know there's just all kinds of atmosphere swirling around him in the thick. He's in the thick of it And but again, there's points of light, that little bits of light will kind of wisp in there every now and then and it shows you enough of his expression for you get what's going on. But you know, i get a little cautious nowadays because I know people are so sensitive about that topic of how dark do you go in a movie? 

0:12:24 - Jason Bowdach
So it's actually a great topic that we can suggest on a little bit. This feature is it going into theatrical distribution or straight to straight. 

0:12:33 - Mark Todd Osborne
It's actually going to theatrical and I believe it's not just like because a lot of my movies will. They'll run for a week on the East and West coast And I think that's more of a contractual thing before they're sent to streaming. But I believe this one is not just getting one of those type theatricals. I think it's getting a true theatrical for as many weeks as the audience will sustain it, you know. 

0:12:55 - Jason Bowdach
Fantastic. So go see Supercell in theaters and, if you didn't, go see it on streaming. It should be a great looking film. So while we're on the topic of dark images, how do you typically deal with that? What is your approach to that? Obviously, we need to make sure that we have enough raw exposure on screen, but if your director or your producer is guiding you in that direction and they want a really dark scene and this is what they want we have to go that way. What are some techniques or strategies that you use to make sure that viewers can get the minimum amount of information to understand what's happening on screen? For, like the scene you were just describing, to make sure that we can see Alec Baldwin? 

0:13:37 - Mark Todd Osborne
Well, you know, first I talked with the cinematographer and we discussed the whole scene. And I'm always looking east to west across my 16 by nine frame and deciding about what is important to see and what's not. And usually if the cinematographer's done their job, they've already sort of hopefully built that in And then you just have to help them out a little further. The cinematographer might have disregarded the left part of frame, like sometimes they'll say I don't care what's back there, and then maybe the character's sort of more to the right of frame. And so you know, you just craft it, and so I might have to power window down the left hand side to make sure our eyes aren't going where we don't want them to go, and then pulling your eyes to that patch of light that's in the darkness on the right side, and usually the cinematographer's done their job to give us that light. And if it's not there, then again a little power window help to create maybe some shaft of light that's coming from a source To just. And sometimes I've had to dissolve, use the dissolve function in my color grading system to sort of ramp in a light at a moment and then ramp it in completely to take it out as well when we don't need it. So it just depends on the shot. 

It's a scene by scene decision, but again, i think, in order not to frustrate an audience because an audience can get frustrated if they don't feel they can follow the action So I always make sure there better be something they can see, even in a dark side. Give them. There has to be a point of light somewhere. If it's moonlight, if it's coming through a side window in a basement, in a cellar, but they gotta see something. Your eye needs to go to that light And your eye is always gonna naturally go to the brightest point in any frame, in any picture, or just in life. Your eye tends to go to where it's the brightest, just naturally. So, yeah, give them a point of light, a point of reference to view. 

0:15:35 - Jason Bowdach
And it's a super colorist question. When you need to dig stuff out of the darkness, as I like to call it, is there a particular control that you like to use? Do you find one that happens to work quite well in these dark situations, when you just want that texture and detail to come up nicely? 

0:15:51 - Mark Todd Osborne
Well, the plug pixel tools. 

I'm plugging pixel tools. I mean you've got a nice little DCTL. Recently I've played with that can help me change the curve and dig some shadows out. But I do like using DCTLs to get under the hood of Resolve and really dig out picture. But having said that, even if it's not a DCTL, even if it's within my color workflow, there's just points in my node structure that I know I can go to go underneath the grade And I'm really like lift up and then on top of that I'll have to shape down around it, You know, but I'll have to pull it out and see where it breaks. You got to lift up and see where it starts tearing up or getting noisy, digitally noisy. You just find in the right spot in your node structure to dig that information out. And I lately have color a lot with DCTLs because I was one of the colors to help design the raven grade And I really enjoy working with that from time to time. And there's a lot of good tools in there to help dig out some of those shadows where I need to. 

Every job is different. You just take a look that you did from one movie and throw it on another and it doesn't work that way, I mean, you can start with basic color, space transforms and some basic lets Maybe you've designed a shape, get an initial image going, But every movie breathes on its own lives and breathes on its own And you end up having to just do different things to make that particular movie or TV show or commercial look the best that it can. So every job that's what's fun about our jobs is you might think that you're going into it with this ideal of how I'm gonna attack this problem And then you find out you end up doing something completely different because the thing you thought was gonna work doesn't work the best. Until you tried two or three other options And yeah, and you just You find what works for each movie. That's what's interesting about our job. 

0:17:44 - Jason Bowdach
I love that man. I am frequently having to relearn my own experiences in two or three days after I built a grade back and be like man, that was not a very good grade. You'll go back and try and rebuild it a little bit cleaner And find out wow, the node structure that I used on the project before doesn't quite work. On this one. We should rebuild something more custom. So I completely understand what you're talking about so funny I'll never forget. 

0:18:05 - Mark Todd Osborne
When I was still under the wing of a colorist, i'd set this awesome look, what I thought was awesome. And then the next day I came back in and I go, oh my gosh, i realized I could have done that look that I did yesterday So much better, because I just was in a different frame of mind or I don't know what it was. But and I've been grading seven years at that point and I was down on myself because I'm like crap, yeah, those dailies look fine but they could have looked better, you know. And I told that colorist and he actually kind of comforted me and goes dude, i've been calling 12 years just this year. I felt that what I set today is the best look for that job from years beyond today. 

Don't be sorry yourself, it takes a long time to get to that point where you just know that you're setting the right look. You don't have to tinker around as much as you might have a few years back. The more experience you get, you just have all this wealth of knowledge and trial and error in your mind. So you kind of already know what to start with. You've already weeded out a lot of those bad ideas. That's what experience brings. So that made me feel better. Okay, good, i've got a long way to go, but I'm heading in that direction and now It's been 25 years and I bring to each project kind of all that knowledge and I can start with that and I kind of know where I want to go. Doesn't always mean I have the right solution right off the bat, but I think I get to it quicker now And we can get then get to the fun stuff. I'm gonna get to the fun creative grading Totally. 

0:19:28 - Jason Bowdach
I think a lot of us get caught up on the technical aspect, and fun question that I want to ask you is what is your favorite insult that you've Received as a colorist, whether it's from another colorist or from a client? 

0:19:39 - Mark Todd Osborne
Okay, favorite insult, boy, that's off the cuff. Okay, a few years back You know this whole this are. This business is built on vibes. Okay, you could be a like. For instance, when I was a company three, there was a seasoned colorist who I think he had few more years on me Very seasoned he's working with was having trouble getting a look for a commercial. So they said, mark, he wants to try you. So I'm a fresh perspective, i guess you know on this, i thought so I stopped what I was doing. He, the director, came in and told me what he wanted and with him, i kid you, not 20 seconds or so, i had the look and he wanted and he goes why couldn't that other Guy get that? took him an hour and I still couldn't get that. But again, hope, maybe their vibe that night wasn't Right. Right, that yin and yang was not working well and it just me on a fresh perspective, i had no, i had no dog in the race and that happens a lot with all of us. Your vibe is important. 

I went into a job where it was day one of setting looks and I just somehow, with the director, we got started off on the wrong foot and I don't know how it happened. I know the director though he came in a bit loaded, meaning He had a lot on his mind. He had a lot of worries about this movie that were not about color. I'd heard that there was editorial issues, there was a deadline, he had a lot coming in. So he was already a little bit amped and I think it kind of I let that sort of amp me to. Anyway, i just remember the worst insult was as one that he said Mark, are you, you think you're right for this job? I'm like And I had to fight for it I go, yes, i am right for it. But we're arguing kind of like I'm, yeah, i'm right for this job. Like you chose me, i'm right for. You know, i had to fight, and so that was the first hour and then both of us settled down and Then, after I sort of fought for it and I settled, he settled, and then we were good. I think it just was that first hour or two We had to work out whatever that vibe was was not Copacetic, and then it had to, we had to align it and I'm glad I pulled out of that. I know, you know the the plane was nose diving but I got pulled out of it. But there's been times where it's lost and crashed at the beginning and you can't pull out. It's like you realize all right, let's just wipe our hands, wash our hands of this. 

You go find someone that you work better with on this one, and I've talked to a lot of big colors. I just had a company three colors friend of mine tell me that He was working on something and he didn't like the decisions that the director was guiding him. He was completely opposed to it But he was doing what the director asked and at one point, when the director turned to him, said Gleefully, do you like what we're doing? this colorist said no And the director got so mad he packed his stuff up and left. 

And this is a big person We all know. So it happens to the best of us, you know it happens to all of us. It's part of the deal. You just hope that that doesn't happen very often, of course, but you know it once in a while. The vibes not right. You know I always try to make sure I'm in the right mindset before I start a job, so at least it won't be on me. If there's any weird vibe, it's probably on them. They've got something going on in their world that I'm not aware of, but lucky that doesn't happen very often Yeah. 

0:22:54 - Jason Bowdach
I've heard stories like that from colors that we know, colors at company, three colors to work on small projects, colorists all over the world and I asked that question because I like to bring a little humor to it And the fact that we are we are all doing this job. We're working on projects. Some people have spent years to four, ten years of their life and they may bring, be bringing it into our bay and we'll work on it for A couple weeks, maybe a couple months, and it's pretty easy for us to assign our ownership over it. 

0:23:22 - Mark Todd Osborne
Yeah, i mean that's that's why I like to talk about those things. I know a lot of other colors don't. But when I like to get sort of frank and honest and open about those little kind of moments because Young colorists going in don't know what they're in for When, because they're just thinking, oh, it's fun to color images, to make pretty pictures, and that's is a big part of it. But boy, it's those, those moments that you, you, you either have it or you don't, to have to know how to navigate Through those. And and thankfully I've learned to, you know, i've learned to sort of navigate through that and you do have to be a bit of a psychologist. You, you have to read the room. 

There's been times where I know that This director just doesn't want to chit chat. They want me to Basically shut up and work. You can't just start like start with some big story and they're revving to go. They want to start working and you're like still doing the chit chat. Let's get to know each other part And you just have to know. Again, read the room. So there's a bit of psychology to what we do. To keep the room vibe good, you got to keep it good. 

0:24:26 - Jason Bowdach
It's a totally different Skill and it takes another couple years. I've learned that the the craft of color grading and crafting images versus the craft of running the room and being able to Guide these group of filmmakers who, towards the end of the filmmaking process, are either Highly caffeinated or very done with the filmmaking process. 

0:24:48 - Mark Todd Osborne
Highly caffeinated has been my problem for years. 

0:24:50 - Jason Bowdach
I'm said to regulate that that happens to me too, And it can absolutely result in you getting some hurt feelings, And I think that's probably one of the things that I wanted to bring up is the fact that when you're learning to be a colorist and you're working in this industry, growing a thick skin is a really important thing. As somebody who is I'm a highly emotional person. getting told your work as not working with me or your way of working is very difficult, as I'm sure you are as well. 

0:25:19 - Mark Todd Osborne
You are, because I always thought I was the only emotional colorist out there. I get very emotional about my work And yeah, of course you care, you care, so that's a good thing. 

0:25:29 - Jason Bowdach
Not only do you care, but it's like. I've certainly gone home in tears once or twice about I am never gonna work in this industry again. This guy's gonna ruin my reputation. It's just you gotta go home, swallow your pride a little bit. Take a quick look at what we're doing in this industry. 

0:25:44 - Mark Todd Osborne
You led me into something very topical based on the Oscars, which has happened. but you're right, you gotta check your ego And one thing that's hard for us to do is to sort of look at ourselves and go where is it where we need to sort of change, what do we need to adjust? It's hard, but we do need to have those moments where we take a look at ourselves. But what was really positive about the Oscars was that editor Paul Rogers and what he said. did you read what he said? 

0:26:11 - Jason Bowdach
I was watching it live, man. Honestly, he almost the whole Oscars almost brought me to tears, man, because indie films being celebrated but Paul being only a second film and everything he said. Do you have a quote with you? 

0:26:26 - Mark Todd Osborne
Well, i don't, but I'll give you sort of the gist What I love about it. And for years it used to be this whole adage of you need to kill yourself for your art. I mean, i remember years ago certain companies I worked for. It was like if you weren't killing yourself, you weren't a team player. Okay, and we all love what we do. 

But there's a point where, if you don't have life experience, you're sort of an empty shell. You need to be able to rest. And that's what he was saying essentially is that this job, these directors, they all were all sympatico about. Let's work hard, but yet let's still go back home to our families, let's get good rest, let's have time, a little time off and come back, because then you come back refreshed and you are no longer an empty shell, you are full of energy and experience and you know how it is. It's like a computer needs to be rebooted to clear its data, its mind. We need that rest because then we come back really energized and with lots to give. So I just love that. 

And there was and there was the directors and Jamie Lee Curtis. They were all giving thanks and praise to the people that make it work. It wasn't just about them. It was the least selfish, egotistical Oscars I've ever seen and I hope that we're on a path here because it was all about hey, it's all of our Oscar, this is everybody's part and it just. I love that, I love the humility in that and I think it just. It energizes people. People will work hard when they feel respected. So I'm glad to hear the direction that they went. Very positive stuff. 

0:28:06 - Jason Bowdach
I love that whole message. We've had numerous talks about this. We are both of us are not huge fans of this work to the grindstone mentality that our industry has, and Paul speaking about that on the stage was a huge, huge message to everybody, and them representing the movie that literally swept the Oscars is a statement in itself. 

0:28:27 - Mark Todd Osborne
For sure, of course. Having said that, my schedule has been so crazy that I have been working long hours, but at least I get to do them here at my home studio. I do have to go into Hollywood every now and then for a theatrical screening, but it's not as often as it used to be. 

0:28:47 - Jason Bowdach
And I think, as colorists I'm sure you get to the point where you can't even see and balance color anymore. At this point you're just spinning your wheels. I'm not helping you. I'm gonna have to redo this tomorrow, so after I don't know. For me it's about 12 hours after that. I'm just done, man. There's no point in needing further. 

0:29:06 - Mark Todd Osborne
Few weeks back in the theater in Hollywood where we already had a long day. I had gotten there at 8.30 AM, but we didn't start till 10, so I'm working all those hours. And then it was a 10 to seven, and at seven the director looked at me and said Mark, i know we're supposed to be kicked out, but I could use three more hours. Man, i just don't feel like I've seen this movie yet. So I said yes, but I don't. I try not to do that too often, but when we hit that extra three hours now it's 10 PM and I had to say, okay, we're done, because I am no longer good to you. 

I feel like my eyesight needs a rest, i feel like I'm not judging color the way, but that was a long day, from you know, and I got up at 6.30 that day, got into the work at 8.30, so this is a long day for me And I just you have to have a point where you gotta be honest with the client just say, look, we can keep working, but I'm afraid that we might have to redo it tomorrow. So and she was cool with it The director was just like no, no, i get it, my eyes are getting bleary too. So at least she agreed, and it wasn't a bad thing to stop working you know, you just had to ask. 

0:30:09 - Jason Bowdach
See, the fact that you brought that up is all it took, and some people would have just kept their mouth shut and just kept going. and all of a sudden it's like why are you constantly looking at the scopes and not the reference monitor? It's because I'm officially blind at this point. 

0:30:23 - Mark Todd Osborne
I know, dude, there are so many topics, jason, you and I could hit on because you're sparking things for me, but there's a point where, well, i was just talking to another colors the other day about when do you just sit there like a good puppy and do everything that's told to you And when do you draw the line and go, you know what. I think this is a better idea, without offending them, you know, and that's what they're looking to you for. Anyways, your expertise hopefully the client is. the reason they've hired you is for your expertise. but there's a point, let's say, a person is taking you in a direction that you feel is just not working. At what point in the process do you tell them, like I think we need to change direction? I don't think that this solution that you want me to do is working, and I know it's hard for some colorists. 

I've heard of colorists coloring an entire movie and I had been called in for a movie that years back to fix a movie and other colors did, because the director guided them in such a way, but the colorists didn't need to stand up to them and say this is not the way. They just went ahead and did what the director wanted. And then the director's like I can't see my film. She had this person over when Powerwindow the movie, so it was very muddled with too many Powerwindows. And when I came in that's what the company told me. 

he probably should have stood up to her a little bit earlier in the process. So I, knowing that I was very strong from the beginning, i'm like let's just start from scratch. Here's what your cinematography did, and I kid you not, in that first node they go, that's beautiful. I can see my movie again. But it was kind of that director's fault because they had guided that other colorist to muddle up the image with over coloring. So again, so that taught me a lesson too just make sure that you can be firm, but still be nice about it and diplomatic. 

0:32:03 - Jason Bowdach
I think that's our job, i think that's part of our job sometimes is to be able to communicate that both professionally but with intent To be able to say I'm happy to take this in this direction, but after x, y or z time, i really think that we should try this and see where it goes. 

0:32:21 - Mark Todd Osborne
Right, exactly. I'm always willing to try their idea and I will show them their idea. I save it as a still. Then I say, before we commit to this path, because it can be a rabbit hole, can I show you two choices, two different choices. Let me know Again. You're not going to offend me if they're not right, but I got it. At least say I tried and showed you. And nine times out of 10, they might like what I've brought up. They're like oh, that's a twist on what I've. That's what I'm trying to get you to do anyway, it's just in a better way. 

I've colored now, like I counted last year and I was already at like 175 features, i think now I'm at 225 or something like that. It's ridiculous. So I've done this a lot right. There was times I had choices A, b or C and I picked the wrong. I picked B when it should have been A or B or C. But yet I got down this path where I'm realizing it's more laborious the way I've chosen to do this. I'm overworking, and if I would have chosen one of the others I would have probably done this in one third of the time. But now I've stuck with it because the director is right next to me and I got to finish through this scene this way. I hate when I get in those rabbit holes. So, again in middle of my career, i started trying to be more smarter about don't just jump into a solution. Make sure it's the right solution, especially if it's a long sequence or if it's a pattern throughout the movie that you're going to be doing. Make sure it's Because, again, workflow is so important. 

We're managers of time. Sometimes the clients forget how much time I have. They think that I've just They've got this open credit card. Yeah, yeah, just keep spending time on the notes and keep spending time on this new thing I've added, and I always have to remind them. I love to do that for you Like a movie. I just did that. I'm very I can't talk about it right now, but it wasa director actress And she added 60 plus shots of beauty. 

That was not in our plan at all And she had a tight schedule already. So I had to call my company, who I'm doing it for, and I told her call your company, because we need an extra day, that's 10 hours, to do the beauty work you've asked me to do, because it was very meticulous beauty work. It wasn't a drag and drop solution, so, and they had to come up with some more money for that extra day of color because it was important to them that I did it, and that's fine. It just You can't be thrown a curveball when you've already got to set them out of days for this movie. And then, oh, by the way, every time you see my face, i need this work done on my face. You got to kind of stop and challenge that. 

0:34:54 - Jason Bowdach
So again, I think that's something that a lot of colorists, especially junior colorists, struggle with, is they'll make a deal or they'll start working on a feature And then, all of a sudden, additional responsibilities will come up And they feel pressured to squeeze that into their previous arrangement, when the obvious solution is to bring it up and get in and discuss This wasn't in our original time estimate, this wasn't in our original contract And just do exactly what you were saying, which is, hey, we either need to reschedule or we need additional money for this. 

0:35:25 - Mark Todd Osborne
Yeah, but if the days are not going to be extended, then something that we're doing has to be cut so that I can fit that in into those days. Because here's the thing You don't want to get in the habit of giving away free work. It's not a good business plan to give away free work. Yes, there are those jobs that we all have where I had to put a little extra time to get what they needed done, and that's fine once in a while. But it's not a good business model for yourself to give away days on every job. You don't want to do that. So that's why you need to bring it up And I have it in my bids. 

I always have the wording that states here is the bid based on our discussions of what the scope of the job is. Should the scope of the job change, an hourly rate to do that work will be discussed with the client and applied. So letting them know I'm not just going to willy-milly start charging you extra. I'm going to call you and say guess what? this extra thing you threw up in me that was not originally discussed. I don't mind doing it, it's fine. But that's an X in the amount of hours or whatever the time is that I'm going to need. And then you need to negotiate from there And of course they're always going to say, well, that's not in the budget And you got to say, well, we got to figure something out. So you have to negotiate sometimes with them. But, ok, well, how do you make it work, your time to do it, and maybe you can help them out too if they need it. In a certain you can maybe reduce the price a little bit, but to make sure you still get paid for your work. 

I'm a big proponent of don't do free work. I have never I think we're just talking about that on Twitter recently or something Free work has never yielded me. I've only done it a couple of times and each one I never saw those the director again. So I just don't do that because it didn't yield anything for me. Usually that signals to them is oh good, that's that cheap free guy I can use, he'll do free work. So it doesn't signal to them oh, i can't wait to pay them big money next time I do a feature. 

0:37:28 - Jason Bowdach
Yeah, we did have that conversation where I think it was on Twitter where someone mentioned that someone about free work And I said the solution to that is not offering free work And they'll come back to you when they have the money. Because we both experience this. When people are asking for free work as soon as they get the budget, for whatever reason, it's not a purposeful thing. I truly think this is a psychological thing. It becomes well now that I have a budget, i want to go to the guy that requires a budget. 

0:37:57 - Mark Todd Osborne
Exactly What you're teaching. When you take that really low dollar amount, what you're telling that person is oh good, you're that low price person And that's kind of where they lock, because the next time they come back to you they're kind of wanting that same low You gave them. You know how it is. They always say just do it on this first one, the next one I'll give you, but then the next one comes and I kid you not, they'll be like sorry. 

I didn't get the budget that I wanted. On this one Can you do the same thing And that's where you got to sort of. It's the integrity of your own person that you need to say Now. I gave you that low one, here's my rate. I maybe can take a couple of dollars, but it needs to be close to my rate, and so that's the thing. It's a hard thing, too, for freelancers to navigate is when and when not to do that, and you have to be prepared to lose some work. 

0:38:44 - Jason Bowdach
Yeah, we both are right on the same mindset. You might get a couple of things for your reel, but that client is not going to come back when they start moving along in the industry Just going back to everything everywhere all at once. I think what I love about them is if you look at their whole team. they have been making films together for years and they did what I think is the what everybody in filmmaking wants to do, which is they brought their whole team forward with them. So when they started making small things, they started making bigger things together. They didn't say, okay, bring in a new DP, bring in a higher end colorist. They kept their team that they were making small music videos with and just moved them up because they liked working with them. And that, to me, is the heart of independent filmmaking, is I like making movies with these people. That's what it's all about. 

0:39:30 - Mark Todd Osborne

0:39:31 - Jason Bowdach
Well, that's fantastic. So my last question for this call is a pretty easy one What is your favorite film? 

0:39:40 - Mark Todd Osborne
my favorite film. 

0:39:41 - Jason Bowdach
Yeah, i know that's a super hard question to ask, as someone who I know is a film fanatic. But like what is and this can be like your favorite film to watch or your favorite film that's inspired you, but like what's just your sort of go-to. 

0:39:53 - Mark Todd Osborne
There's so many, i mean, but the one that I go back to I love Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have the poster in my office. Raiders of the Lost Ark is just gold, no pun intended, but it's beautiful One. It's Shotwell, it's great characters, all about the characters you know. Here's the thing too. Again, i think I've told you this before, but I'm going to say it again The year in 2014, i was working on a $90 million movie for Spielberg. 

I got to meet Spielberg on it. He was executive producer. It's called Need for Speed. He came into my color room on day one, got to talk to him finally, and I was so stoked and I thought this is the movie everyone's going to be talking about for my career. And three months later I do this little $800,000 movie. It follows and that's the movie everybody want to talk about. 

Not that Need for Speed is bad. I don't mean to diss it. I think it's a fine movie. It's popcorn movie, it's fun, there's sort of vibes out there and it follows. Just happened to hit the vibe of the millennial generation, the 18 to 28. It just knocked it out of the park for them And everybody was calling me from Sundance that year because it premiered at Sundance. Dude, this little movie is awesome. So it just taught me a lesson that it does not matter how much money you put into a movie. What matters is character, story. It's character and story, it's the script And then the execution of that script. Hopefully, the execution of making it either helps the script or improves the script. It's all about story, man. That's why we go to the movies, that's why we read books. So again, not about the dollars you put into the movie. That's my two cents on that. 

0:41:37 - Jason Bowdach
Well, great choice, and I'm a huge fan of It Follows. I thought it was an amazing grade and a fantastic horror movie, and if everybody that's listening and watching, if they wanted to find out more about you, how can we find you on social and your website? 

0:41:52 - Mark Todd Osborne
Okay, my social is I'm on Instagram at marktoddosborne. I think I'm on the LinkedIn as well, which I like. You can find me there if you just call up Mark Todd Osborne. You can find me on IMDB as well under Mark Todd Osborne, and you can go to my website at mtocolorcom. 

0:42:12 - Jason Bowdach
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for spending your time with me this morning. I have really enjoyed our conversation and sharing coffee with you. Yeah, and until the next time we get to hang out, hopefully, nab. it's been an absolute pleasure, mark. 

0:42:27 - Mark Todd Osborne
Thank you so much for coming on the show. Yeah, it's been great. This was fun. 

0:42:31 - Jason Bowdach
And that's it for our first episode of Color and Coffee. Thank you so much for listening. Be sure to follow us on YouTube or your podcast app of choice. We will have another episode in two weeks. We'll be launching new episodes every other week. I look forward to seeing you guys on our next episode And, until then, happy grading. I'll see you guys next time. 

Transcribed by https://podium.page

Mark Todd OSborneProfile Photo

Mark Todd OSborne

Senior Colorist