Meet Nick Rutter, an experimental and impulsive Irish, Scottish, Italian Cockney filmmaker (who makes a mean Haggis Arrabiata!) Nick recently finished shooting The Staves’ latest promo ‘The Blood I Bled’, wherein he captured the energy and colour of India in a visually stunning film graded by Mill colourist Luke Morrison.
The climactic music video, shot in Mumbai, follows the story of a range of characters through a rich montage of happiness, colour and energy, tinged with scenes of frustration and sorrow, pairing perfectly with the delicate and intrinsic tones of the track.
We caught up with Nick to find out more about shooting in India, and what creatively inspires him:
Why did you choose to shoot in India and how did it lend itself to the video?
The beautiful Staves sisters had the idea to shoot the video in India. It was that idea that attracted me to the project, I then came up with the script and concept. I have shot in India before but for a completely different style of film and in a total different area. India can be extremely bureaucratic with red tape madness, so things are never easy, but the beauty of the country makes up for all of this, and through the family ties of the production manager, we were able to shoot in some stunning locations that included people's homes, fishing ports, piers, cremation sites and vast empty beaches.
The first things you notice are the heat, the golden light and the smell of a vast city, all of which bowl you over in very different ways. It's an assault on the senses; the smells, the color, the festivals, the food… it's impossible to resist. Everywhere you point the camera is alive with detail and texture. It’s hard to stop shooting.
It was an all consuming and exhilarating experience, but not without its challenges.
The prep was extremely stressful and at times I truly didn’t know if we were going to be able to pull this off. We couldn’t secure any of the locations or cast. Everything came together literally in the last two days. We were casting the young boy for the human tower at 11pm the night before shooting him…. Lots of curve balls came our way. I have to give a massive thanks to the brilliant Indian production team at OML who had to go beyond the call of duty to make this happen within budget. It was a really great shoot and we had a great wrap party where Ben Fordesman the DP (a vegetarian) tried to free some goats who were going to be slaughtered in the morning….But unfortunately, in the end the goats weren’t saved.
You often grade with Luke - how important is the relationship between director and colourist?
Relationships really count. I’ve worked with Luke over three years and know how talented and skilled he is. He understands where I’m coming from. He cares about the narrative and origin of the idea before making decisions about the look. We talk, he tells me his ideas we sit and work through it together, it’s an important part of the process for me, and something the DP and I discuss at the beginning of the project. Having an ongoing professional relationship like this means I can trust Luke even if I’m unable to make the grade in person. That takes time to build.
What role does colour play in this film?
On this particular project, I sent Luke some shots a few days before the scheduled grade and he tried out some ideas. We discussed not going against the grain of the setting and working out the golden tones of the yellows and reds. We wanted saturation without losing the balance of the image soft mid-tones. Luke showed me some example grades and they were so great we ended up just pushing a few things warmer in the final grade. He did a great job.
Who and what inspires you?
My family and friends inspire me… as does coffee and hiking. New environments and journeys help starts the flow, literally jumping on the train, driving up the M1 gets my mind shifting gears. The fluidity of the feeling I’m moving in a direction. Any direction. But essentially inspiration isn’t on tap. It’s like a full moon. You have to stand in the dark all night if you want to look at it.
Mill colourist Luke Morrison worked closely with Nick over The Mill's remote grading system, grading the project in Chicago whilst Nick watched live in London, he comments, "Nick once again created a compelling and intriguing narrative that leaves the viewer wanting more. Adding to this, I created a cinematic style that harmonised with rich tapestry of the narrative and added to the texture of it's environments. Within the grade I added warmth, richness and depth to the specific tones, soft clipped and rolled off the blacks and created crossed curves to get a kodak stock style. This was all topped off with a touch of grain for that filmic vibe."
Some of Nick’s other projects in collaboration with Luke include: Lapalux ‘Without You’, Vaults ‘Lifespan’ (Find out more about the eerie music promo inspired by the Dance of Death in our blog post), and Lapalux Chrysalis and Rudi Zygadlo ‘Melpomene’. See more of his work on Sonny London’s site or his personal website, and watch the full music promo below: