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Case study: Behind the grade on Sky Atlantic’s I Hate Suzie

Colourist Simone Grattarola discusses the many different looks for Billie Piper's new show.

Following former child-star Suzie Pickles (Billie Piper) as her whole life is turned upside down after being hacked, new eight-part comedy I Hate Suzie is directed by Georgi Banks-Davis and Anthony Neilson, with cinematography by Tim Sidell and Luke Bryant. 

Simone Grattarola from Time Based Arts was drafted in for the grade, having worked with both the lead director and DP, Banks-Davis and Sidell, extensively in the past. 

“I’ve known Georgi for around 15 years. We go way back to working on commercials and some of her early short films,” explains Grattarola. “With lockdown coming into effect partway through post, that relationship and trust became incredibly important.” 

The team was able to complete the first two episodes at Time Based Arts in London but then had to continue working remotely. 

“Having had those first sessions together, we did have a pretty clear idea of what the rest of the series was to look like. And because we knew each other, it wasn’t a huge imposition going into lockdown,” explains Grattarola. 

He adds: “With people sometimes viewing QuickTime files on mobile devices or computers, there was an understanding and trust that any variance in contrast, for example, was just a result of the viewing platform and not what I was seeing on my Grade 1 monitor.

“We did also run some feedback sessions on Zoom,” Grattarola continues. “Using Clearview and a Blackmagic Web Presenter, I was able to effectively live stream my grade, which worked well as both Tim and Georgi had good bandwidth at home. We could talk through things, and they could see when I was adding power windows, for example. That was really useful for them to see and comment live.” 

He states that this series is unlike anything you will have seen before. “Especially in terms of the look, or should I say looks!” he adds. “Normally on a series there is one set feel that has to work across everything. However, on I Hate Suzie each episode has its own, reflecting the wild and hedonistic unraveling of the lead character’s life. 

“We drew on various references, from old Italian horror films to ’70s cop shows, however I also developed a base LUT for the series so there was something to solidify it all. We didn’t want it to feel too disparate.” 

According to Grattarola, as with many productions, there were a lot of time pressures on I Hate Suzie. When it came to doing some of the pick up shots, it wasn’t always possible to have everything exactly as it was before. 

He adds, “There were a few times where we used some of the tools and effects in DaVinci Resolve to help get the same feeling from the shots earlier in the sequence. There was a particular shot where Tim’s team used quite a lot of filtration, and we managed to combine a few different tools in Resolve to help us recreate that. It was a little challenging, but a fun process nevertheless!”