Exploring the Various Approaches of Indie Films: Looking Back on the Diversity at SXSW 2018

Q&A with Colorist Sam Gursky of Irving Harvey

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Colorist Samuel Gursky from New York-based post house Irving Harvey discusses his work on four different projects from SXSW 2018. By using the DaVinci Resolve Studio and a DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel for the projects’ color grading and final conform, he was able to get the job done for a variety of different projects. 

PH: Tell us about the four projects you worked on and how you approached them all differently? 

Sam Gursky: These projects were all incredibly different due to their various time constraints, the desires of the creatives involved and the mediums that they were captured on. 

The feature documentaries (Weed The People and Narcissister Organ Player) were both captured using a mix of Canon cameras along with a kitchen sink of everything from tape to GoPro to iPhone. A lot of the work done on Weed The People was done to make everything feel as seamless and smooth as possible, noise reduction and just general cleanup work were done to really make everything feel as cohesive as possible.

For Narcissister Organ Player, the director (who is also the subject of the film) really enjoyed amplifying and accentuating the tones and textures of the various source media. We spent a bit of time doing cleanup and then realized that the goal was to heighten everything that was already there, rather than trying to clean it up and hide the formats. I think that both approaches were appropriate for the respective projects and the toolset that DaVinci Resolve Studio provides was well suited to easily trying both out under our given time constraints. 

One Eye Small was shot on RED and working with the director, we wanted to stylistically heighten the moods of each scene with the main keyword being "clean". I am really happy with where we pushed everything to and Jane was super collaborative and a joy to work with. 

Every Time I Die - Map Change was shot on ARRI Alexa, Kodak Super 16mm and VHS. I love working on music videos because they really allow for creative exploration and this one definitely pushed the limits of each of these formats. Lots of heavy lifting to get things into a space where the formats cut clean with each other, but it was definitely worth it. 

PH: What project was the most difficult to make and why? How did you overcome it? 

Sam Gursky: Each project came along with a unique challenge, I'd say the most challenging was Every Time I Die because of the mix of formats, quick nature of the turnaround and the fact that we were working remotely with the DP who was very involved with the project. We uploaded passes to Frame for him to review while I worked in person with the director, Kyle, and then continued to tweak and revise until we were basically given the hard stop pencils down from the label. 

PH: What is something you'd like to share with other filmmakers that you learned working on these different projects?

Sam Gursky: Keep an open mind to each project being different, and even if you've worked on another project that feels similar — approach it as a new creative process every time. Each project has something new to offer. 

PH: Can you walk us through how you tackled pre-production and post-production?

Sam Gursky: We came on once the edit was locked on all of these films, they were edited in Adobe Premiere using various workflows (online/offline) but we knew that we wanted to finish from DaVinci Resolve Studio because it was up to the challenge of outputting the various deliverables to suit our needs. 

PH: How were DaVinci Resolve Studio and a DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel helpful on this project and what made you use them?

Sam Gursky: DaVinci Resolve Studio is the infrastructure that our entire color grading operation runs on at Irving Harvey and I can't effectively work without my DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel, so I'd say that these tools were instrumental to my work on this project.

PH: Anything else you'd like to share with the ProductionHUB community?

Sam Gursky: With all of the advancements in technology and the work that companies like Blackmagic Design have done to make hardware and software more accessible, post-production is a field ripe for change and I think that the fact that a facility like ours with a small team of four full-time staff has gotten the opportunity to collaborate with such incredibly talented filmmakers and has had films that we provided services for play at some of the most prestigious festivals (Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca and more) gives me hope that a new class of post house is emerging that I am really excited to be part of.

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About the Author

Samuel Gursky
Samuel Gursky
Samuel Gursky is a post supervisor and colorist born on Long Island and living in Brooklyn. He founded Irving Harvey in July of 2012, establishing an HQ in lower Manhattan the following February of 2013, their mission has been to provide both professional post-production and finishing services to clients of all types, along with infrastructure and support to burgeoning creatives. They have been lucky enough to lend support to projects that have shown at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, Cannes film festivals and more, along with Netflix, broadcast TV and every corner of the internet.

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