Spotlight | Mill Colourist Ashley Woods talks creative liberty, career growth and music

The Mill's global roster of Colourists use the language of colour grading to craft arresting and beautiful images. New York-based Colourist Ashley Woods shares her career experience, what led her to her role at The Mill, some of her greatest work, and what's inspiring her to create.
Thought August 2, 2022

Walk us through your journey and experience. How did you get to your role at The Mill as a colourist? 

In college, I majored in art history and film. After graduating, I thought I might like to be an editor, but that didn’t really stick. I had been passionate about photography and digital imaging for years so color grade naturally appealed to me. When I heard about The Mill and saw the quality of work they were producing I applied to be a runner.  I spent about a year as a runner before I joined the machine room for two years, where I learned the fundamentals of encoding and deliverables. After hours, I would train in the telecine department and eventually joined the color team as an assistant. I spent about two more years at The Mill assisting before I left to pursue an opportunity at Nice Shoes, where I became a colorist in 2017.  Thereafter I freelanced for a bit, but I came to miss the sort of jobs that The Mill and MPC take on, and the collaboration between departments that results. So when an opportunity arose in 2021 to work as the senior color assist at MPC, I went for it. I was subsequently promoted to a colorist position after the MPC/Mill merger. 

Is there a particular type of project that you specialize in or enjoy working on most? 

I love working on projects that highlight marginalized voices and communities, projects where the team is open to experimentation, and projects that are poetic in nature, allowing you to move beyond the surface and make you think and feel. 

What’s been the most memorable project of your career? 

My most memorable project would probably be a piece I worked on for Great Big Story called “In Korea, Setting the Table with Tradition”. It was beautifully shot and lit, making my work easy. Another reason it has stuck with me all these years is because of its message: the world is so high-tech these days, it’s important to step back and appreciate traditional craftsmanship and the natural world. Coming from someone who works behind screens all day, using software that has an almost limitless number of choices, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the tech and its capabilities. This piece reminds me to seek to create timeless art and to take inspiration from nature and the traditions of artistic practice throughout time. 

(View project below)

What’s inspiring you right now? 

My most consistent and enduring inspiration over the years has been music. I’m a big fan of experimental music of all genres, and how musicians push the boundaries of expression through rhythm, cadence, and timbre. My husband is an amazing guitarist and I’m constantly inspired by the ideas he cooks up.  Most of the time I strive for my work to be behind the scenes and indiscernible to the viewer, but I carry a strong appreciation and understanding of the qualities that make temporal art forms exciting and memorable. 

Check out more of Ashley’s via her creator page. You can also follow her on Instagram @ash.ra.woods. View our contact page to get in touch with our global roster of colourist!