Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim recently turned to Santa Monica-based Company 3 and colorist Stephen Nakamura for the DI work on his powerful new documentary, Waiting for Superman.
Nakamura, who has brought his sensitivity and technical savvy to blockbuster features including James Bond action thriller Quantum of Solace and upcoming Russell Crowe adventure Robin Hood, was thrilled with the opportunity to apply his talents to this smaller, independent film, made up primarily of video-shot interviews and a very diverse array of archival material.
Nakamura reported that he had a special satisfaction working on this emotional, in-depth look at America’s educational system. “Davis is so passionate about everything he does and that shows through in this really special film,” he says. “I love working on huge studio films, but this is why I got into the business.”
The filmmakers were acutely aware of the benefits Nakamura could bring, not just to an effects-heavy studio feature but also to an independent documentary. “Sometimes the documentaries that mix footage from many different sources can be the most challenging to even out,” Nakamura explained. “The interviews they shot with the HD cameras looked very good, but when you go from one camera to the other, or from HD to something you downloaded from the internet, it’s very important to finesse each image very carefully. Any mismatch or technical imperfection is going to be magnified enormously, especially when you put the movie up on the big screen.”
Nakamura worked on a DaVinci Resolve to provide unique looks to particular storylines, and help subliminally orient the audience when the film rapidly cuts between locations as three families in different cities participate in tense lotteries to determine whether their children will get into the best schools.
For Nakamura this was as rewarding as any project he has tackled. “It can be great to participate in a gigantic film that goes on to make hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said, “but it’s also incredibly rewarding to work on material that can really make a difference in the world.”