Harry Locke IV is a Director and Colorist based in Los Angeles, who has more than a decade in the filmmaking experience. After working on big projects such as Tangerine, X-Men, and even Beyoncé’s Ivy Park, we spoke to Harry about his solo projects such as The Redeemer, and his work as the colorist for the 2021 film I’m Fine, Thanks For Asking (dir. Kelley Kali). Shot during the Pandemic with the Stimulus cheque, the film tells the story of a widowed mother who becomes homeless, she pitches a tent and convinces her 8-year-old daughter that it’s a fun camping trip. Read all about it now:
Nick: What would you say your core role is?
Harry: I don’t really do so much online anymore. I was an online editor/color assistant and a colorist. Now I mostly just work either as a colorist or I’m working as a writer/director, but I basically earned my stripes, being the online editor, which is also known as a conform artist in the industry.
A casual viewer might not know what an online editor is. They assist in the finishing of the film. Am I correct?
Yes. I always say that the online editor is one of the most pivotal positions in the finishing process, but it’s also one of the thankless jobs. You’re really kind of invisible. The editors and the directors and the creative team make the offline edit, so they’re making the actual film or story or piece. Then as the online editor, you come in and you are that translation between the offline edit and then what’s going out to your colorist or your VFX team or your sound team; where you’re really linking to the higher resolution material, or you’re basically polishing up the edit. The online editor rarely gets any praise because [with] the colorist, it’s like, wow, you had a really cool grade, but with the online, it’s like, you really copied that timeline perfectly [laughs].
It seems as though that role is treated as a kind of functionary, but when you say you’re the colorist, people know you to be an artist, right?
The funny thing is, I always tell folks who are looking to become a colorist and work with bigger clients; coming in as an online editor or a color assistant is a great entry position. You get to work with the clients very closely. They get to know you, and you get to work with the colorist very closely and you get to learn. You get to see different techniques and see what works, and what doesn’t work. My skills as a colorist grew exponentially quickly by being an online editor and watching different sessions, looking at different projects and learning. That way than I ever would have by just simply sitting there spinning the knobs and learning through trial and error. So it’s a great learning experience and you’re working in the industry. You’re working on big projects.
Do you have a favorite project? Is there something you’re quite passionate about having worked on?
I’m a little bit biased. Rather than pitting my clients against each other, I’ll say my favorite projects to work on are the ones that I write and direct. I’ve got a project right now where we shot a proof of concept. It’s called the Redeemer. It’s a revisionist Western, and it’s not your traditional Western style. We took that notion of a Western film and updated the characters, themes and topics to make it relevant to the modern day even though it’s set in that period piece time.
Sort of like what Tarantino was trying to do?
A little bit, he’s a little bit more on the spaghetti Western side. Whereas the proof of concept that we did is actually a smaller piece for a feature we’re working with financing partners in China to create. The background of the story is the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was an era when laws were passed in the United States to forbid Chinese from immigrating. I was writing the project as COVID-19 happened last year. There was a lot of unjust sentiment against the Chinese. But I don’t believe in preaching to people. I don’t believe in hammering you overhead, I just want to tell you a story and present the facts, and this is how the story is.
You worked on the recent Tiffany & Co campaign, featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z?
I worked very closely with director Emmanuel Adjei (Black is King), creative producer Lauren Baker, and the talented post-production team over at Flawless Post, as the colorist on “About Love.” A short film / commercial which features a soulful musical rendition of the classic song “Moon River,” made famous in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The spot was filmed using both an Arri Alexa as well as Super 8 Camera footage that was captured by JAY-Z.
I used FilmConvert to essentially bridge the divide between the Alexa footage and the Super 8 Camera to allow the two formats to still look distinctively different, while also feeling as if they were in the same universe. The campaign has gone on to play from the screens of Times Square in New York, projections upon the Copacabana Palace hotel in Rio de Janeiro, the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, and many other iconic locations all around the world.
I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking) looks like an interesting project. How did you come to work on that?
Kelly Chapman, who is the writer, director and lead actress in the movie – We went to USC together. I colored a couple of projects for her while we were at USC and just became good friends and always kept up to date with each other. She would tell me she’s got a new project and I’d do some color for it. I got a call from her last year and she said, “Hey, I took my stimulus check and I made a film”. Her writing and producing partner Deon Cole and a whole team of creators came on board and helped shepherd her through this project. The film is incredibly timely because it’s shot during the pandemic, and it actually uses that as the story and what drives the lead character Dani.
The lead character which Kelly plays is homeless. Her husband has passed away and it’s left her and her daughter in a precarious position where they don’t have the money to get a new place. We follow her in a day in her life, where she’s basically trying to get the last funds together so we can go get a place to live for her and her daughter. We see all the obstacles that come across her way as she tries to do it.
It was shot with the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera. Not the URSA, or a RED or an ARRI, but the BMPCC, mostly with exteriors. The DP is Becky Chen, who is a really great up-and-coming cinematographer. She did a wonderful job capturing great images with this little camera. Essentially what I was able to do was that I took that footage and got an understanding for what we were going for in that story and how we wanted it to look. We went for a Spike Lee, Do The Right Thing, type feel. The film is a kind of an homage to that nineties era of film.
I wanted to see how we could get a cool film look out of this camera, and it’s interesting because when I did my normal process of applying FilmConvert and playing with some of the curves to get a teal orange look, it looked cool, but it wasn’t there. It didn’t feel special.
Then I discovered CineMatch, which you guys had come out with. I downloaded that and was able to take the Black Magic RAW space and convert it to ARRI Log-C before grading it, which gave it a curve to match the ARRI Alexa. Then when I did my grading process, it was acting like it was ARRI footage and I couldn’t believe it. I was like, this is, I found the cheat code, right? You can go shoot on this $1,200 camera, convert the footage to Log C and then just go nuts. I couldn’t believe how differently the footage was responding; transforming it [with CineMatch], as opposed to before applying the grades.
Where can we watch this film?
It’ll be on most VOD platforms and available internationally as well.
Harry’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/socal_hal