The Impact of Color in Movies

I remember a number of years ago we were watching Doc on TV and Brittany pointed out that all the actors were wearing blue. We started observing and realized that they were always color coordinated. So we wondered, is this something that was done on purpose? That simple observation led to research on color schemes in movies and television and how color affects the overall look of the movie. I find the subject extremely fascinating and now use color very purposely in our movies. In Flowers for Fannie, Fannie wore black or dark colors until the end when she softened and began adding color to her wardrobe. Louise wore florals or happy colors and prints. The other characters wore bright colors.

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In The Good Book, blues were used to represent hope. Blacks and greys were used to show depression or turning away from God. We also coordinated wardrobe with locations, making sure it all blended together with no clashing.

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Now in Providence with it being a period piece that takes place over forty years, we get to really use color to advantage. We’re using color to indicate the time period, to reflect the emotional state of the characters, and to coordinate with the locations. We’ve spent the past few months scouring thrift stores searching for just the right wardrobe pieces. The 70’s scenes will be reds, blues, and browns. We’ve found some great brown plaids and vintage prints. The 80’s will be color that pops. Most of the 80’s actors are teens and I know they’re going to have so much fun in the neon parachute suits and color block jackets. I’ve also been rounding up fun accessories like hats, leg warmers, and bangle bracelets.  The contemporary scenes will be dark colors except for a few scenes where color is used to show life and vitality. In addition, we’re using color to provide a consistent look for the Rachel actresses and the Mitchell actors. Rachel wears pinks and burgandies mixed in with black throughout the movie. Mitchell always wears a dark or neutral sweater vest.

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in addition to wardrobe, with Providence we’re also doing color coordinated set designs. Rachel’s bedroom will undergo color and style makeovers to match the time period and mood and we’re actually building a set for Mitchell’s bedroom. We’ve been accumulating pieces and today found a chest of drawers.

Well, that’s enough for today. Tomorrow we do last minute props and preparations for Friday’s filming.

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Author: Sharon Wilharm

Sharon Wilharm is a female filmmaker, blogger, and speaker with over a decade of industry experience. She and her husband, Fred, just released SUMMER OF '67, their seventh feature film. Their movies have screened in theaters, festivals, and churches around the globe as well as multiple television networks. They've accumulated dozens of festival accolades including many Best of Fest awards and 4 ICVM Crown Awards. Sharon is passionate about visual storytelling, branding, and marketing and would love to speak at your upcoming event.

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