From American Cinematographer, An Elegy for the Earth by Mark Dillon, March 1999
Regarding the film, Last Night
The filmmakers initially considered using reversal film, with either standard or cross-processing but Koch notes, "That seemed fairly risky, and getting local labs to work that way, especially in terms of the cross-processing, was a bit of a problem. Cross-processing gives a nice contrasty image, but the color saturation also seems to increase quite a bit; Don was interested in a more desaturated look." The duo also contemplated shooting color stock, making black-and-white and color inter positives and then re-registering them for desaturation. "By doing that, you can control every shot and every scene precisely," the cinematographer expounds." You can have a higher-contrast black-and-white version and just mix the color in. It was a very exciting idea, but on a film of this scale, we estimated that it would cost an extra $100,000-- the whole film would have become a giant optical."
The technique that seemed most promising during their tests, which were performed at Deluxe in Toronto, was the bleach-bypass process, which Koch tried first on an original negative. "They can do what they call a 'partial' or 'complete' bypass," he elaborates. "The partial seemed virtually invisible-- you couldn't really see any effect from it-0- whereas the full one was quite striking." However, the cameraman decided that applying the process to the original negative would be too much of a gamble. When bleach-bypass was administered at the printing stage, he found the results to be "quite nice, although it created more of a lush look which resembled that of the ENR-type processes." Furthermore, no one in production wanted the film's look to depend so heavily in the printing stage, which could not be controlled outside of North America. Inthe end, bleach-bypass was added at the interpositive stage. Since the process substantially increases contrast, Koch had to light his images flatter than usual and over expose them. According to McKellar, if bleach-bypassing became unworkable, the resulting footage would be "quite garish and flat, because everything-- the characters' clothes and all the walls would be very brightly colored."
Koch shot Last Night on Kodak's Vision 250D 5246 stock. His deliberately over-lit negative was pull-processed two-thirds of a stop in the lab and then underdeveloped slightly to help lower contrast and color saturation. To produce a dense negative with a suppressed grain structure that would allow for greater flexability, he pushed his photography by one stop and then went over by an additional two-thirds-- exposing mostly at a T2 or T2.8.