Colourist Luke Morrison from Electric Theatre Collective talks about his career so far, how to stand out from the crowd and what he’s looking for as a judge in the FilmLight Colour Awards.
Luke Morrison is head of colour at Electric Theatre Collective. The winner of many prestigious accolades, he has become an integral part of the creative process for high-profile directors and clients, working on films, music videos and commercials. Under his leadership, Electric’s Colour department has become one of the industry's most exciting and diverse teams.
In the last year, Luke has worked on Coca-Cola’s award winning spot Masterpiece, Apple’s Quiet The Noise and BIFA nominated ‘Kanaval: A People’s History of Haiti in Six Chapters’ – a film documenting Haiti’s troubled past through colour, dance and music.
As a judge for the 2023 FilmLight Colour Awards, where the judging has now finished, Luke said he has been looking for work that goes a step beyond what is required. “That doesn't necessarily mean something new or pushing colour too far. Work that shows a high level of craft is what stands out from the rest,” he said.
“It’s great to have a platform like this that recognises colour grading. Like all parts of the production and post process, colour grading is necessary for the end result – and if it isn’t done right, the end result will suffer. We’ve seen some really interesting entries coming in to the Awards, and it’s always good to discover new talent and see such a broad scope of work from across the globe.”
Professionally, Luke started out as a runner, originally thinking 3D was to be his career. “But I quickly realised I wanted something more niche,” he said. “When I discovered the colour department, lacing up film on the telecine, I was hooked. I’ve always had a passion for photography and the dark room, so it was a natural fit for me.
I worked my way up the ranks as so many do and became a colourist at the Mill in London before moving to Chicago to set up the Mill there. I spent five years there establishing myself and The Mill before wanting a fresh challenge. I moved back to London, joining ETC to really push the colour department there and build a strong colour team.”
Over time he has seen many changes come and go across the world of colour grading and recently, he finds the explosion of remote grading is among the most notable. He said, “Previously it was always difficult to convince clients about the ease and benefits of working remotely. Now, everyone is familiar and comfortable with it, and the systems and displays have improved drastically as well, which has also helped. It’s opened the possibility to connect with new clients, different markets and also to maintain long-lasting relationships.”
The wide scope of Luke’s experience hasn’t led to a preference for a particular genre or format. Instead, he likes the variety of different projects – each with its own challenges and enjoyment and ways of working. “I don’t like to get too comfortable or set into a pattern with work, so I’m always looking for variety,” he said.
For instance, Electric Theatre Collective has recently expanded their services into long form projects, which Luke has been enjoying. “It’s been great delving into long form, starting to work with new clients and just being exposed to a completely different circle,” he commented. “I’m also enjoying collaborating with long term friends who have also moved into long form.”
For Luke, each format has its own challenges and rewards. “In some ways, commercials can be the most challenging. In contrast to long form, clients are devoting huge attention to detail over a small amount of time and limited number of shots. It often causes people to fixate over the smallest details, which puts us under a lot of pressure. However, I’ve always enjoyed working under pressure and to deadlines, so I really enjoy commercial work.”
Looking back at his career so far, winning the British Arrows Gold Craft Award in 2019 has been the biggest highlight for Luke. “It was in my first year returning to the UK market,” he said. “Ever since I started as an assistant, it was always something I wanted to achieve.” www.filmlight.ltd.uk
See the full list of FilmLight Colour Awards nominees here. The winners will be announced at EnergaCAMERIMAGE in Poland on 12 November 2023.