Final postproduction for Hunter of Invisible Game, the new short film from Bruce Springsteen and Thom Zimny, was completed at The Room, a finishing boutique located at Technicolor-PostWorks, New York. The Room’s Ben Murray conformed the film and applied the final color grade, working in collaboration with Zimny, who co-directed with Springsteen.
Hunter of Invisible Game, which debuted this month on Bruce Springsteen’s website, is based on an extended version of a song from the album “High Hopes.” Springsteen also stars in the film, an impressionistic story of a lone traveler making his way through a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
“It’s a project Bruce and I had been talking about for a year,” said Zimny. “We expanded the music by giving it an opening, making it a piece of about 10 minutes. In the cutting room, we pushed the film to be something that isn’t a straightforward, linear narrative. Rather, like the music, it evokes feelings that keep the storyline open.”
Zimny and Springsteen shot the video in northern New Jersey, including on the grounds of an abandoned World War II-era military base. The old fort’s crumbling structures and overgrown landscape provide the backdrop for the film’s score.
“It’s a sprawling military complex with interesting contrasts between nature and decay,” explained Joe DeSalvo, the film’s cinematographer. “You have weeds, tree branches and other natural elements pushing up through concrete and rusty metal.”
The poetic quality of the visuals was further enhanced during grading sessions at The Room. “I set an initial look on the set with the DIT,” recalled DeSalvo. “Once we had a cut together, Thom and I looked it over and I gave him my notes. The Room took it from there.”
“I like to filter the camera and determine the look through the lens to give the colorist an indication of where I’m going,” DeSalvo added. “He can then back off on it or add to it. On this film, I used chocolate filters, sepia filters and diffusion. We tweaked it with the DIT on set, then Ben took the final step, applying the polish. He did a great job; he nailed it.”
“I’ve known Ben for 15 years and, much like I have with Bruce, I’ve developed a shorthand with him,” said Zimny. “I can come in with a new project and feel comfortable that he is going to bring something to it that I wasn’t expecting.”
For Hunter of Invisible Game, Murray and Zimny used color not only to enhance the look of the film, but also as a narrative tool. Their aim was to sharpen the emotions of the story, which, at its core, is about a man’s hunt to recover his lost humanity. “Bruce and I feel that a key part of the storytelling is how the image ends up,” said Zimny. “And that’s why I come to Ben. He finds the place that we were trying to reach.”
Murray said that he finds Zimny’s experimental approach to color invigorating. “What I love about working with Thom is that it’s all about the process, the journey,” he observed. “He doesn’t come into the room with answers.”
“Thom has a unique focus and vision, which he comes to me to enhance,” Murray added. “I am there to help him bring it to fruition. At the end of the process, I help him achieve what he envisioned at the beginning.”
The added time and attention applied to the film in post paid off, said Zimny. “A big part of our excitement about this film is in its cinematic quality, and a lot of that was found in the color correct,” Zimny concluded. “Ben has the ability to go through it shot by shot and find the texture and the soul of what is needed. Often it was in the smallest details, minute things, but they added up. I walked out with a piece that was better, a more powerful film.”