CAREER AND INTERVIEW NOTES
PETER FERRARI Colour grader
Interview: 20 July 2012
Interviewer: Sean P Holmes
Camera: Andrew Dawson
Born 16 December 1950 in south London
1968. Left school and joined Associated-British Pathe in Wardour Street as a film messenger then assistant film editor on commercials and trailers. In 1970 the Associated-British Picture Corporation was taken over by EMI, Pathe was closed down and the staff made redundant.
1970. Joined Studio Film Laboratories in Meard Street as member of the film processing department and then a pos viewer. In 1973 became a grader on 16 & 35mm shorts, documentaries, TV programmes and features.
1977. Went to Filmatic Laboratories at Notting Hill as a grader doing work similar to SFL.
1982. Moved to Universal Labs at Ruislip to be Head of The Grading Department. A working technician on 16mm documentaries, TV programmes, industrial and scientific films. In the latter years was able to learn about the then emerging video and negative transfer operations. In 1990, Universal was bought by Carlton Productions and was subsequently closed because they already owned Technicolor. Was made redundant again.
1990. Invited to join Technicolor as a 16mm shift grader on mostly TV drama series and documentaries. Then, in 1997, was promoted to the position of a Senior Colour Grader on 35mm features. However, when Technicolor was later bought by a French electronics company, the restructuring they introduced (about 2001) was not always to the advantage of the lab.
2002. Left Technicolor to join Deluxe at Denham where the whole culture was positive and forward looking. Took on role of Senior Contact/Grader on the Sony Pictures contract, independent productions and latterly also Disney and Warner Bros.
This is an important interview for anyone interested in film laboratories. The interview ranges widely over themes connected with PF’s long career: film laboratories, the film industry, technological developments, processes of production, changes in work patterns; the trade union, industrial relations and the wider politics of the 1980s and 1990s.
Specific topics include: a very detailed examination of the role of the colour grader; grader-client relations; the job of printing; the role of assistant film editor; learning on the job in early career; an appreciation of labs humour; the shift from film to video tape; criticism of digital video grading as not representing an aesthetic advance; ‘the curse of the colourist’; impact of computers in the labs from the 1980s; working conditions; health and safety; the Association of Film Laboratory Employers; industry-wide collective bargaining and its disappearance; the decline of union strength; the ending of the closed shop; personal disillusionment with the ACTT/BECTU; role of women in the labs and thoughts on reasons for lack of women as graders.
Note: In March 2014, nearly two years after this interview, Deluxe closed down and Peter Ferrari retired from the business after forty-six fulfilling years in the industry.
(Andrew Dawson, 12 September 2019)