Gareth Spensley is without a doubt one of the UK’s top colourist, featuring every year in top 10 of Televisual’s annual Colourist survey. He is the talent behind the grade of several TV series including ‘The Hour’, ‘Black Mirror’ and more recently several episodes of ‘Doctor Who’. Spensley credits also include iconic films such ‘This is England’ and the Academy Award winner for Best Picture ‘The King’s Speech’.
“The King’s Speech” was Spensley second collaboration with Director Tom Hooper and DoP Danny Cohen.
The director and DoP decided to shoot the picture in 35mm film (Fuji Eterna Vivid 500T film stock) and to have select scenes scanned at 2K and conformed. Spensley performed much of the grading work in a DI theatre equipped with a 2K projector and a 10-foot wide screen. During the final stages of the process, however, he moved into a new, purpose-built grading theatre at Molinare, equipped with a 30-foot projection screen.
Despite ‘The King’s Speech’ being essentially a period drama and its story revolving around a culture clash between the King and his speech therapist Logue, Spensley told in an interview for FilmLight that Hooper did not want to stress the differences between the two classes through the grade:
“Tom didn’t want an England that was all glorious colours. For instance, London in the 1930s was full of factories spewing smog and he wanted that to come across. Also, there was a lot of cutting between Geoffrey’s working class world and the palaces and country mansions of Bertie’s (George’s) world. Nobody wanted that to jar, but instead to become increasingly intertwined. Let the narrative provide the flow. We didn’t want the pictures to become obviously glorious every time you see a palace”, Spensley recalled.
The grade gradually changes to enhance the evolution of the King’s confidence:
“We brought in colour and contrast progressively through the film so that when we arrive at that scene in Buckingham Palace, you can really feel the grandeur of his surroundings”, he exemplified.
Another use for the grade in ‘The King’s Speech’ was to draw attention to certain objects, notably a coin given by George to Logue:
“We used about a million tracking markers to follow the coin around the screen, putting just the right amount of light on it so that you know that it’s there. It gets put down on a sofa and it has its own highlight, later it appears at Lionel’s house and it gets just the right amount of glint as it passes through the frame. Tom is very much a details man.”
For Spensley’s full interview, clike here