Blackmagic Design has announced that the feature film “Next Goal Wins” was graded by FotoKem’s David Cole using DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post-production software.
Directed by Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit,” “Thor: Ragnarok”), “Next Goal Wins” follows the infamously terrible American Samoa soccer team, known for a brutal 2001 FIFA match they lost 31-0. With the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers approaching, the team hires down on his luck, maverick coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) hoping he will turn the world’s worst soccer team around in this humorous and heartfelt underdog story.
Cinematographer Lachlan Milne, who worked with Waititi on “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” had also worked with Cole on two back-to-back films, “Love and Monsters” and “Minari.” Working with Milne and Cole, Waititi focused on creating a unique feel for the film’s two distinct sequences. “One of Taika’s main directives was that American Samoa needed to lean into the world of ‘hyper-real’ or ‘postcard idealized,’” said Cole. “In comparison, at soccer HQ, we were attempting to have a feeling of the more ‘normal/formal’ world of organized sports, and in particular, to enhance the ‘interrogation’ of Fassbender’s character Rongen.”
With extensive work on LUT development for production, Cole found the greatest challenge was managing the diverse lighting after the shoot. “Wrestling with the constantly changing weather conditions, which happens when you film open exteriors in Hawaii with seemingly four seasons in four minutes, was very challenging,” he continued.
Cole leaned into DaVinci Resolve Studio’s toolset throughout the project. “We used the full arsenal of Resolve tools, including keys, animated Power Windows and curves to have a consistent feel over the course of the movie,” he added. “Custom DCTLs were used to handle gamut mapping of police car lights so that they didn’t tear and look too digital. A custom film emulation was also created within Resolve and applied to the entire movie. The film’s LUTs were also developed within the grading package.”
With a wide variety of beautiful imagery, Cole particularly enjoyed grading the team mountain run. “I really loved the scene and following montage of the team running up a mountain where a delirious Rongen delivers a speech. Lush vegetation, beautiful skies, low sun and enticing beaches all added up to a beautiful couple of scenes,” he noted.
While challenging schedule wise, Cole enjoyed working with such a visionary filmmaker as Waititi. “Taika is a filmmaker who is always busy and has many plates spinning at once,” said Cole. “We began grading the film, then stopped for a year or more while he went off and shot ‘Thor: Love and Thunder.’ We then came back to an editorially refined version of the film and completed the movie. Judicious use of Taika’s time during grading sessions and meetings allowed us to get inside his head and realize his vision on the screen.”
“Next Goal Wins” is now in theaters.