In the Spotlight…Jodie Davidson, DI Colorist at Technicolor
Jodie Davidson started her career in Vancouver almost 20 years ago. Initially thinking she wanted to be an editor, she got her first job with Forefront Productions, a female-led production company who made the hit Canadian TV show, Madison. Whilst there, an opportunity arose at the post facility for a sound syncing position (assisting a colorist) on the night shift, she took it thinking it would help her reach her goal of becoming an editor. But once she saw what the colorist was doing, she thought, “I need to do this, this is awesome!” and her fate was sealed.
Fast forward twenty years and Jodie now works as a Digital Intermediate (DI) Colorist at Technicolor London and has credits on a string of critically acclaimed films including Phantom Thread, The Revenant, 45 Years and Captain Phillips. WFTV caught up with Jodie to find out how she carved out a career in the male-dominated realm of post-production, and what her aspirations are for the future.
“Lana Wachowski once said to me
‘Art is never finished, you just run out of time’.”
So what was it about seeing the colorists at work that inspired you to become one?
Walking into a dark room with buttons everywhere, beautiful images on the screen, the colorist at the desk playing everything like a piano, I was amazed. It was one of those “wow moments” and I instantly knew that I was going to be a colorist.
After deciding that you wanted to be a colorist, tell us a bit about how you got to where you are today.
I worked my way up from a sound sync’er, into the machine room (MCR) and from there became a junior telecine colorist. Vancouver in the late 90s was a really busy time, I was grading dailies for sci-fi TV shows, and romantic movies of the week. I moved companies in the early 2000’s, and that’s when I started getting more into feature work.
I moved to London in 2008, because my partner is British, and started working freelance at Ascent 142, doing the BBC archive work, then moved on to Technicolor. I worked my way up grading dailies at Technicolor until I broke into DI.
What does a ‘typical’ day at the office look like for you?
I get into work around 7:30-8:00am, an hour or two before the clients. I make sure that all timelines are prepared and any time-consuming work has been completed ahead of the client attended sessions.
Then it’s going scene by scene grading with the clients, the Director of Photography, Producer(s), and often the Director, if they are in London. And if they’re not in the facility, we’ll arrange a remote session so that we can all be viewing the same image at the same time.
Then its grade, grade, grade, talk, decide, then maybe come back to a scene and change our minds. Normally I like to try and do a pass of the film first, and then we come back in and do the sweetening. Lana Wachowski once said to me ‘Art is never finished, you just run out of time’.
How do you manage the relationship with your clients?
“Each film is unique, and I am always guided by the DOP/Director. You want be the person to facilitate what they require, but you should also always have something ready in your back pocket!”
When do you like to get involved in a project?
I would prefer to be involved as soon as possible.
I’m currently working on a project with a female director, which is exciting – they just finished shooting the film and I’ve been involved since prior to shooting, they came in with some tests and showed me their ideas to make sure there wasn’t going to be any issues when it came to the DI. With this particular film, Technicolor are working on the dailies as well, so every day I was able to review their footage. That way I can watch out for any potential issues and work out how to fix them ahead of time.
What do you think are the key skills and assets needed for someone to be successful in your role?
I think visual memory is key. You also need to be continually learning, as technology changes, and trends change. Be intuitive and able to read the room!
The technology changes so quickly. How do you keep up to date?
Grading is always the same, it’s the tool sets that keep changing. You are always learning about color science as well as keeping up with new cameras, codecs and the likes of HDR. It keeps it interesting, because you’re not bored… it’s sometimes frustrating (laughs), but it is interesting!
What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?
I was very shy at the beginning of my career, so learning to overcome that and be able to deal with big personalities has probably been my biggest challenge and achievement.
What has been your proudest moment so far in your career?
“My proudest moment would be grading 45 Years.
That is the kind of film I’d like to be doing more of.”
I was thrilled that it did so well worldwide and that it was BAFTA nominated. I was able to use my grade as a case study when we held a Women in Tech evening for WFTV here at Technicolor. I’ve also spoken about the grade at the Broadcast Video Expo (BVE).
The post-production world is still very male dominated. Why do you think that is and do you see that changing?
I would love to see it change and I’m beginning to see it happen. We have a DI editor now who is female and she wants to be a colorist. We have runners coming up now and three of them want to become colorists and they’re all women. I think grading tools are now more accessible and that has done a lot for the younger generation.
The main issue is that, to be a colorist, you traditionally need to take the technical route, working in IO, or telecine, or conform editing, whereas a lot of women in post tend to take the production route.
Maybe now that there’s more of a change in the industry, perhaps more women will start to go down that route. Take VFX for example, I’ve definitely noticed a change with more women working as artists. I think change is happening, slowly, but as with anything, more can be done in terms of promotion.
What are your goals for the future?
My overall goal is to be at the top of my field. I want to continue building great relationships with filmmakers. I’m really excited about my upcoming projects. I’m looking forward to seeing change in the industry over the next couple of years.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us!
Jodie Davidson Bio
Hailing from Vancouver, Jodie joined Technicolor London in 2009. Jodie worked as DI Colourist on the BAFTA nominated 45 Years, where she collaborated closely with DoP Lol Crawley. Jodie’s first DI feature was the Wachowski’s blockbuster Jupiter Ascending, where she worked with double Oscar winner John Toll who brought her onto the DI after seeing her work on the dailies.
Jodie has worked with some of the biggest names in cinematography, including with Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki on multi- BAFTA and Oscar winner The Revenant. She has also worked with DoPs, such as Dion Beebe on Into the Woods, Phedon Papamichael on Snow White and the Huntsman and recently, Paul Thomas Anderson director and cinematographer on Phantom Thread.