- Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017
- SANTA MONICA, Calif.
Colorist Cullen Kelly has joined the roster of artists at Apache, a boutique color and postproduction studio that launched in the summer of 2014. In addition to Kelly’s hire, the studio has also promoted colorist Quinn Alvarez from an assistant’s role to that of a full color artist.
Kelly joins from Labrador Post, a color grading studio he founded in Austin, Texas. The move represents not just a new career chapter for him, but a geographic relocation to Southern California as well.
Alvarez has been with Apache since 2015, joining from the production company Prettybird, where he handled all postproduction duties and worked closely with its directors and producers.
LaRue Anderson, Apache’s managing partner, said the addition of Kelly and the promotion of Alvarez reflect Apache’s continued evolution as a color and finishing house. “We’re currently working on several scripted and documentary shows for Hulu, Netflix and Amazon, in addition to our commercial work for agencies,” she explained. “We needed additional artists that come with a unique perspective to color grading to handle these assignments, not just helping hands.”
Anderson noted that Kelly worked with Apache earlier this year as a freelancer, doing finishing for the debut season of Netflix’s “American Vandal” series. “My partners and I immediately knew we had to keep him,” she says. “He’s an innovative colorist with a techie’s brain and a quick smile, which is what made him attractive to us.”
Alvarez, she added, “brought a list of dedicated, high-end directors and a thirst for collaborating with other creative people when he joined us. He’s requested by our commercial clientele so often now that I knew it was time to get him out of the assistant role so he could grade full time.”
Kelly, who studied film at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena before launching his career, worked in several postproduction jobs before realizing his passion lay in color grading. In addition to his work on the Netflix series, his reel includes short films and promos for The History Channel, FX Networks and SXSW.
What drew him to specialize in color grading? “I’m a very visual person, and I love the amount of detail and energy that goes into color work. And it’s so collaborative; you’re working with people and helping bring their vision to life,” he notes. As for the appeal of Apache, Kelly said “they offer an exciting window to the future of our industry. I love their model and the scale on which they work, built around a small group of really excellent role players.”
A graduate of UC Berkeley, Alvarez said that while working at Prettybird he learned the craft of color grading from a director’s point of view, stressing the importance of story and substance. His reel includes work for such brands as Nike, Absolut, Jack Daniels, Tumi, Toyota, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, as well as music videos shot by such directors as Paul Hunter, Eric Wareheim and Andy Hines.
Apache’s branching out from just color to handling finishing is also driving its need to add more creative talent, Anderson pointed out: “Keeping the color and finish under the same roof, particularly for long form projects, allows us to swiftly complete a show. That adds valuable time to our clients’ often-constrained post schedules, without compromising the look and feel of the film. And we’re finding that cinematographers and directors are moving to original series work, because it can offer more creative freedom. With the addition of Cullen and the promotion of Quinn, we now have five colorists to help transform their digital visions into reality.”