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                                                 MOTION PICTURE & PRO-VIDEO feature in focus
Between colour and black & white, the making of Northfork
 escribed variously as “visu- ally heart-stopping”, “ele- giac”, “ravishing”, “stun- ning” and plain “weird”, Northfork is the latest collab- oration between the film- making Polish twin brothers
and cinematographer M David Mullen. The third in an unofficial trilogy –
after Twin Falls Idaho and Jackpot - about heartland American, Northfork is set in 1955 Montana where the eponymous
white? At first glance, it’s hard to tell, caus- ing the eye to question everything it sees.”
This is an intentional design on the part of Michael Polish. He explained: “First of all, we didn’t want to shoot in black & white because the stock these days just isn’t rich enough and it doesn’t have the latitude we needed.
“But we also were certain that the film had to have a grey pallor. I mean death and change are a grey zone and that’s where the film takes place.”
  16 • Exposure • Fuji Motion Picture And Professional Video
town at the base of the Rockies requires evacuating before being flooded for an ambitious new dam project.
Produced and directed by Michael Polish from his and co-producer sibling Mark’s screenplay, the film stars James Woods, Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah, Anthony Edwards, Kyle MacLachlan and Claire Forlani.
A mixture of fact and fantasy, federal agents and angels, clearly nothing is quite what it first seems in this striking tale set in the wide-open spaces of the great American outdoors.
Said the film-makers: “Adding to the film’s illusory nature is its palette. The question arises quickly into the film: is Northfork filmed in colour or black &
To achieve a de-saturated effect throughout the entire film, he decided to shoot using colour film but to have everything that appears on screen fit within ten shades of grey-scale. Buildings, clothing, accessories - any- thing and everything that was brought on to the set - had to fit somewhere in the grey spectrum. The film’s designers and builders were each given a card with the grey scale on it and expected never to stray.
“This turned out to be much more challenging than I thought at first,” he admitted. “I suddenly became aware of just how much colour there is in the world. We even had to design grey Ketchup bottles!”
In fact, in the entire film there is but one splash of true colour – an eye- popping maroon scarf. Similarly, the colour white is only seen on the clipped angel wings.
“The entire film became an advanced study in grey,” sums up Michael. “I learned so much about it, about it how can become warm or cool under differ- ent circumstances. You learn that a ‘grey area’ can mean many different things.”
Director of photography M David Mullen told Exposure: “Michael Polish and I had used the new 24P HD technolo- gy to shoot Jackpot, but this project real- ly called for the textures of film. It was a dreamlike period piece and we wanted to avoid an overly contemporary look.
“As with our earlier Twin Falls Idaho, we wanted to base the look on paintings mostly, in this case some of the winter landscapes of Andrew Wyeth. We also used black-and-white photography as a guide, mainly Robert Frank’s work and some of the WPA photographs from the Depression Era.
“I had also discovered this wonder- ful book of Autochromes, an early 20th Century colour process which produced beautifully pastel colours.
“With these inspirations, we dis- cussed exactly how we would get this look. Obviously, the production design was critical. Everything with colour in it was either greatly reduced or com- pletely eliminated.

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