Nice Shoes helped bring the landscapes of Florida’s Gulf Coast vividly to life by providing post services for the Amazon Prime dramedy Life’s Rewards. Colorist Lenny Mastrandrea collaborated with writer and director Damian Fitzsimmons, executive producer Jordan Wollman, and cinematographer Erik Van Lenten at honing the final look of the show’s eight-episode second season.
Winner of the Breakthrough Streaming Series Award at the Sunscreen Film Festival, Life’s Rewards centers on retired Navy officer Jared Penrose (Jared Wofford) and his quixotic effort to launch a food truck business. Although Jared outwardly appears to have all the answers, inwardly he struggles with love, finances, and life’s other complexities.
The series was shot on location in St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida and its environs with Erik capturing original imagery with a pair of Red Gemini 5K cameras with vintage Cooke Panchro lenses.
Co-produced by Odyssey Studios, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and VisitFlorida, the show makes liberal use of the area’s sparkling beaches and other popular attractions.
Under guidance from Damian, Erik and Jordan, Mastrandrea developed an overall aesthetic for the show representative of its sunny location and upbeat storyline. He crafted customized color treatments for principal locations and unique looks for the flashback sequences that begin each episode (and are one of the show’s signature elements).
“When we shoot, we keep the image as neutral as possible,” says Damian, “This way, we retain maximum information, allowing us to add the signature look in post-production. From shadows to highlights, skin tones to time of the day, we aim to create a consistent look and style, even when shots are filmed on different days.”
Mastrandrea adds that he had the luxury of working with the material early. “I received the footage a month before final post began and used that time to experiment with styles and approaches to enhance the fabulous imagery Erik captured on set,” he recalls. “The tone of the show is happy, and we wanted to complement that with a rich, filmic, colorful look.”
“We were also very conscious of its setting in a seaside town with beautiful beaches and gorgeous sunsets,” he adds. “For some locations, we went for stylized looks. Smokey environments for local bars and dappled sunlight with lens flares for seaside cafes. It runs the full gamut.”
Mastrandrea notes that he met Damian several years ago and that they had been looking for a chance to collaborate. Life’s Rewards provided an ideal opportunity. “When Damian told me about this project, I was elated,” he recalls. “Our efforts did exactly what Damian wanted: We beautifully enhanced the story through color.”
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