You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah released on Netflix on August 25th delighting fans across the globe. The family story starring Adam Sandler, Idina Menzel, Sadie Sandler, Sunny Sandler, and Jackie Sandler is a hilarious coming-of-age film. Directed by Sammi Cohen (Crush) and shot by Ben Hardwicke (Fresh Kills), the film maintains a light touch portraying the story of a group of girls getting ready for their highly anticipated bat mitzvah celebrations while retaining a realistic tone about the often tumultuous, emotional time girls of 12 and 13 often face in today’s world.
It was with that understanding that Senior Colorist Tyler Roth approached the work of color grading the movie. “We didn’t want it to look like a lot of comedies,” he says, “with very ‘clean’ contrast and just bright, happy colors. It was shot with motivated, directional lighting, rather than that kind of high-key approach, and the filmmakers wanted it to have more of a contemporary cinematic feel than you might expect from a ‘commercial comedy.'”
Roth applied filmic curves to the digitally shot material, introducing a pronounced toe and shoulder to the images (compressing highlight and shadow information, respectively, mimicking the way celluloid responds to light), and he layered in grain throughout, “not so much to make the viewer notice that there’s grain, but more to add some texture and make it not feel too ‘clean'”.
That said, the movie isn’t a heavy drama. “The photography and production design themselves are colorful and deliberately executed,” he notes. “There are four different bat mitzvahs, each with its own color scheme, and we made sure to maintain, even enhance the color separation for the different looking celebrations, without simply pushing the saturation. Overall, the approach for the grade was about making sure we see the characters clearly and adding a subtle amount of additional shape to the images while invoking some sense of drama without pushing anything further than the viewers would expect for the story.”
The exceptions to this approach can be seen in a fantasy sequence at the start of the film in which a girl imagines her yet-to-occur bat mitzvah in the impossibly beautiful light of eager anticipation. Hardwick lit the scene to enhance the fantasy element, even shooting through a star filter. Making use of DaVinci Resolve’s OpenFX tab, Roth supplemented the imagery, adding a highlight glow and diffusion along with a golden glow that renders the lighting in the synagogue as beautiful, almost magical. “We utilized these effects here to give it a heightened, almost hyper-real feeling,” the colorist explains.
Roth is very pleased about how well-received the movie has been, but he’s not surprised. “From the first time I saw it,” he recalls, “I was struck by how well it captures the power of relationships and friendship and family. It’s very much a family project for Adam and something he obviously felt strongly about, and I think it really shows.”
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is streaming on Netflix.