Richard Fearon is part of MPC London’s team of stellar colourists. Having worked on promos for Lana Del Rey, One Direction and Sam Smith, plus flexed his grading muscle on Terry Gilliam’s feature The Zero Theorem – not to mention an eye-popping array of commercial spots, we wanted to see what makes Richard tick.
We chat to him about being his artistic inspirations; the switch from film to digital and the invention we’ll sadly never see come to fruition...
As a colourist, you must be constantly inspired by your surroundings – is there a particular style of art or photography that you admire?
In the world we live in now I think it's hard to only like one particular style of anything. We are spoilt for choice with our access to art, film, music and photography especially living and working in London. I love The Photographers Gallery on Ramillies Street which is only a couple of minutes walk from MPC. I also like to walk down to the National Gallery, somewhere that can be both inspiring and also quite overwhelming.
If you didn't have this job what might you be doing instead?
I think I would be an inventor. I would have my own workshop and spend my days thinking of new inventions. Nothing big, just small everyday things that would make people's lives that little bit easier. Like a pen than never ran out, really useful things like that!
What or who has most influenced your career and why?
I have been lucky to work with a number of top colourists throughout my career who have all helped me along the way. The one person that I consider to have influenced my career the most would be George K. I was his assistant back in the day and he taught me all the basic skills to become a colourist. To work so closely with such a talented colourist at that point in my career was great.
What’s been the biggest career highlight for you?
I would have to say that working with Terry Gilliam and his DOP Nicola Pecorini on The Zero Theorem. Having grown up watching films like Fear and Loathing and 12 Monkeys, to have the opportunity to work on his next feature film was a real privilege. We had a lot of fun in the suite, but as well as that it was one of the most creative experiences I’ve ever had.
The film was all shot on 35mm, which was a joy because as you can imagine with Terry's work there were out of this world set designs and the costumes were full of colour and texture. Add to that some beautiful lighting from Nicola and it really was a pleasure going to the DI theatre every day.
What’s the most significant change you've seen in the industry since beginning your career?
The move from film to digital. When I started everything was shot on negative and now that has totally flipped on its head, 90% if not more is now shot digitally. With that the grading platforms have advanced and introduced new tools for the colourist, such as free hand shapes, auto tracking, comping and blending multiple layers. Our work as a colourist is a lot more defined these days with a lot more attention to detail. I started grading on a DaVinci 2k+ which only had 3 power windows that you could soft edge from an oval or a square shape.
Where were you when inspiration last struck?
Probably out running in Epping Forest near where I live. It's great to be able to witness the seasonal changes of the forest throughout the year. If I can get out for a run in the morning it always helps to clear my head and sets me up nicely for the day.
What would be the 'dream job' for you to work on?
I'm pretty jealous of the team working on Star Wars at the moment, the anticipation surrounding the film is already huge. From what I have seen they are trying to get back to the original look of the first three films. It will be interesting to see if they sustain that look and feel throughout the film or if they gradually introduce more modern techniques and colour schemes.
Tell us one thing about you people might not know...
I'm training to run my fifth marathon in Berlin, in September. Five isn't bad but I'm doing this one with my mum who will be finishing her 87th! Fingers crossed my wife doesn't give birth early as she is due two weeks later.