The Wonderful World of Color: Why Color Matters in Your Film

Sometimes you may come to us with a project and not know quite what you want to say or how you want to say it, but you do know how you want the viewer to feel. The implicit meaning of a film can be as important as the explicit message you convey. One factor you’ll want to consider when seeking to evoke that feeling? Color.

Believe it or not, the colors you use have a powerful effect on the viewer. Why? While thoughts on the matter vary widely, Gregory Sciotti notes in “The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding”.

“… colors play a fairly substantial role in purchases and branding. In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).”

An additional concern to note: individual colors may matter when trying to establish your image on film (see Buffer’s take on how to assign colors to your brand), but the viewer’s experience with color is generally more important. Sound confusing? Here are a few tips to send you in the right direction when seeking costumes, props, and other elements that may include color for your film:

Pay attention to color combinations. Access to a color wheel or palettes makes a world of difference when trying to find pleasing color combinations. Color schemes can be based on analogous (or similar) colors, complementary (opposite one another on the color wheel) colors, or natural combinations (as seen in nature) of colors. Additionally, most colors pair well with grays and browns. With that said, there is a class of color combinations to watch out for ...

Pay special attention to the accessibility of your color combinations. For those who are colorblind, red and green can be problematic when paired together (despite their position on the color wheel). For this reason, you should be very careful when employing these colors in the same frame or adjacent to one another. The NFL got in trouble in November 2015 for ignoring this potentially problematic combination, and this angered fans as a result. Don’t let an avoidable oversight affect your film!

But, most of all, be true to yourself and your image. Sciotti gives the example of Harley-Davidson when explaining why this is important:

“... color appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual color itself. So, if Harley owners buy the product in order to feel rugged, you could assume that the pink and glitter edition wouldn't sell all that well.”

Resist the urge to use colors that are recognizable or flashy for the viewer; instead, find the color palette that makes sense for you as an entity. Recognize the message your brand is trying to convey, and choose colors accordingly. Want to demonstrate a sense of fun? Don’t dress actors in neutrals or dark tones. Want to emphasize a natural, organic feeling? Stay away from neon or overly bright tones. Remember: Color is important, but customers also value a brand that has a sense of who they are. A color choice consistent with an image is a part of that.

Remember, our team is always available to help you work through the details of your film before shooting begins; please reach out to us so we can chime in!