When twice-Academy Award-nominated director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk) was filming and then completing his new movie Promised Land in 2012, he enlisted MPC colorist Mark Gethin to define the broad panoramas, barrooms, and homesteads of the film’s country landscape. The feature, shot on film and written by Promised Land stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski, is an eco-conscious contemporary drama about a corporate energy salesman whose journey from farm boy to big-time player takes an unexpected detour when he seeks to drill in a small town, where the controversies behind “fracking” have divided a rural community.
Promised Land marks Gethin’s first feature as digital intermediate colorist. He worked alongside the film’s cinematographer, his frequent collaborator Linus Sandgren, who recommended the colorist to Van Sant following Gethin’s standout work in film and video for Adam Berg, John Hillcoat, Rupert Sanders, and Johnny Green.
“While Mark has teamed up with many top-flight directors, this is his first feature film grade, so we are all pretty excited with how it turned out,” commented MPC LA MD Andrew Bell. “Although Mark has a heavy workload in commercials, the creative partnership with Gus and Linus was too good to pass up.”
Van Sant, in an effort to capture an authentic portrait of the people and farmland of the rural Pennsylvania locations where the movie was made, tapped a range of Fuji Vivid and F64 Vivid film to achieve a look resembling classic Kodachrome stills. Gethin’s job was to seamlessly blend this varied footage into a unified vintage look that Van Sant sought.
“Gus and Linus had a strong vision of how they wanted the movie to feel,” noted Gethin. “Their references were old Leica or print photography, which lent a very authentic and beautiful feel to the characters and landscape without feeling nostalgic. As we defined the exterior shots, we found a sympathetic grade to the surroundings and their natural color, preserving as much detail as possible for each shot and location. It was extremely important that we take a subtle approach and not give the footage an overly stylized look.”