As a colourist on a feature Simone always feels like a small cog in a very big, sophisticated and well-oiled machine. But director Tom Harper has built up a very loyal band of collaborators and they’re all included early on in his process.

Tom and DOP George came into TBA and they had a few movie nights where the team inspired themselves by watching blu-rays in our cinema suite. It’s a part of the process Simone really enjoys. The agreed ambition was to shoot film. A lot of references were from Pakula and Friedkin. Three Days of the Condor, Parallax View and Klute were three films they’d looked at. In no way did they want to imitate these films, but what they did like was how the natural tones and chiaroscuro look of these films enhanced and elevated the story. Tom wanted Heart of Stone to feel honest and for the audience not to see a veneer or something that fell processed or manipulated.

Early on in discussions it became clear that the whole movie wouldn’t be able to be shot on film. However Tom and George still wanted some sections to be shot on 35mm. We did extensive tests with George shooting on Film and Digital cameras in the same scenarios so we could best judge and assess which camera would be able to evoke the quality of film. George settled on the Red Raptor. We were all impressed with the way it translated the colour and found it the best match. We tested a number of different grain emulations and settled on Filmbox, we really liked their halation tool as well, and played with a number of different stocks throughout the whole movie. The team created some rules of when we would have finer and coarser stocks but inevitably as we went through we created what we felt was right for each scene and shot.

That said the team had a hard deadline for delivery at the end of the allotted grade time and there were a huge amount of VFX shots still to drop in. The team at Harbor London, where Simone graded the movie, had an enormous task of getting all these shots in and ready with minimal impact to the grade sessions. Inevitably as new improved VFX sequences came in initial grades are tweaked and looked at again. Making sure everyone is talking across those departments and aware of whats happening is essential for these situations where time is of the essence. As a colourist you can have an influence on VFX and give feedback to developing shots.

As HDR was our primary deliverable we led with the HDR grade first before moving to the SDR trim and lastly the Theatrical. Knowing this we wanted to spend the first two days looking at the footage win the big screen. This gave us the feel for the cinematic effect we wanted to achieve. We then moved onto the monitor on Day 3 with a good feel for our cinematic intention.

Released on Netflix on August 11th, Heart of Stone is a strong new take on the action film and Simone's grade has no small part in making it feel original.