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August 2016. Interview by Marelise Jacobs. Cover: The group from Refinery Post-Production - courtesy of Tracey Williams


One of the most important areas in film making is post-production, where sound and visual effects come together, taking a film to the next level. I spoke to Tracey Williams of The Refinery to find out what goes on inside a post-production company and what role they played in the making of My Father's War.


Take us through the process, which scenes required the most planning visually?

Tracey Williams: We had a few key discussions, one of them was about the binocular scene to the end of the movie, that was probably the smallest one. The other one was the attack at night. Approaching the bridge, laying the charges, blowing up the bridge and then the guy getting attacked by the crocodile. I mean, that's pretty big. My approach has always been - get as much as you can on set. There were a few decisions also made, we wanted to shoot it at night to make it look as realistic as possible. When it comes to the set design, we decided to only build three or four metres of the bridge and then what we'll do in visual effects is extend the rest of the bridge. It's really helpful to have a real element on set, and on top of that they wanted some performance of the guys who were on the bridge to feel like they were there. Have them stand there, shooting, aiming at guys in the water and the camera will be able to capture that scene so you'll feel the space of what was going on. The set design guys did a great job, they actually built about ten or twelve meters of the bridge.


“...colour is the other character. It sets the tone, sets the mood, it sets a look...” - Tracey Williams

When you say grade, what exactly do you mean?

Tracey Williams: When the director of photography goes out on set and shoot, everyday there is a different light. They try and match these shots as best they can but in fact they can't, but they can get in the right ball park with how they set it up and light it. How we then get involved, after they've edited the film, is we go back to source.

The source footage that has been shot. We capture it on a time-line and then we literally match each shot perfectly. So from all the scenes, when you're filming this side or that side, there's a slight off-set on the light, the texture and tones of your skin, of the shadows and the drop-off. We then makes sure that it all fits together as if it was seamlessly shot.


What do you love about post-production?

Tracey Williams: Colouring on film is my little passion, because colour is that other character. It sets the tone, sets the mood, it sets a look. It puts your film in a different genre, different intensity. It's a very subliminal thing but if your pictures don't match, the viewer finds it very disturbing but when they do match it just ads more to the picture.

Also you do things in post-production which can lead the eye. So, you know if it's a conversation between you and I, maybe I want to hightlight the one side of your face. It's that extra level of lighting and crafting.


Where does post-production fit in the whole movie making process?

Tracey Williams: I think what people don't often understand is that post-production is in fact, out of all the people involved in making of a film, post is involved the longest.

We are involved right up front in the planning before the shoot. You've got production people that are involved for the duration of the shoot.

From day one, from principal photography, in fact even before that, we are involved in the planning of pre-production, we are there for the duration of the shoot. We are involved for the duration of the edit, for the duration of post-production, for the duration of delivery.

Post-production is in fact your longest running people on any given production, obviously besides the producer and director. In fact the director is often off the show by the time we are doing delivery.


What is the most important part of making a movie?

Tracey Williams: IWhen people end up with me, someone who has written a script and managed to get it funded, by the time they are working with me in post-production I have a huge respect for them. Because they have sweated on that movie, just to get the processes of funding and all the pieces in place. I have huge respect for them because it is tough. So I must just craft it and make it as beautiful as I can. I don't understimate any level of what everyone is contributing, I think there's value on every level.