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December 16th, 2016

Damien Van Der Cruyssen, Colourist and Director of DI at The Mill NY, collaborated with Director Vikram Gandhi and Cinematographer Adam Newport-Berra on ‘Barry’, the new biopic exploring a pivotal year in the life of U.S. President Barack Obama during which he developed the foundations for his views on race, government and what it means to be American.

Set in New York City in the fall of 1981, the Netflix original film follows ‘Barry’, portrayed by newcomer Devon Terrell, as he begins his junior year at Columbia University amidst a crime-ridden and racially charged environment. As ‘Barry’ grapples with issues that are still relevant in today’s world, the filmmakers sought to create a period piece that didn’t feel too stilted or stylized for modern audiences.

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To give the on-set dailies a filmic quality, Damien worked with the filmmakers to define the palette and Look Up Table (LUT) using test footage shot ahead of the film’s production. Damien and Adam referenced NYC street photography by artists like Bruce Davidson, Frank Horvat, Helen Levitt and Thomas Hoepker. Jonathan Glazer’s 2004 film ‘Birth’, shot by cinematographer Harris Savides, was also referenced for its creamy palette, long takes, and underexposed look.

Featurefilm Barryba 22Before (Top) | After (Bottom)

Adam shot the film with Zeiss Master Anamorphic lenses to provide a refined image that would help anchor the viewer in present day. Using 35mm stills captured by Adam on the set for reference, Adam and Damien then worked to establish the final look, deconstructing the footage to add grain and depth.

Damien explains the grading process:

We compressed the white, and gave it more of a glowing diffusion and very soft roll-off to emulate the positive print film stock effect. It was a balance of making it look like it was shot in the 1980s while not being too stylized or artificial.

Featurefilm Barryba 4Before (Top) | After (Bottom)

While we kept the green for most scenes, we killed it as much as possible for the basketball court shots. We felt like ALEXA was putting the green in a video world (digital capture) and we were creating a film world.

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Featurefilm Barryba 25 LatBefore (Left) | After (Right)

This scene was a long shot, following Barry from outside the public housing building, through the hallways and into the party. To go from the city lighting to the indoor lighting, viewers are taken through different worlds so we created a transition, subtly giving each location a slightly different colour.

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Featurefilm Barryba 27 LatBefore (Left) | After (Right)

For the party scene, it was very easy to fall into the trap of creating a music video vibe but the director (Vikram Gandhi) wanted something that felt more real and authentic.

Featurefilm Barryba 23Before (Top) | After (Bottom)


‘Barry’ is the fifth feature film that Damien and Adam have collaborated on. You can see more of Damien's work on his reel and find out more about Adam at www.adamnewportberra.com. The film is available to stream worldwide on December 16th through Netflix, just in time to help viewers bid farewell to the 44th U.S. President.