The Use of Colour as a Function of the Cinematographer, The Sleeping-Mat Ballad

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


The evolution of the technical reproduction of colour in film has been categorised and studied in great detail. The aesthetic use of expressive colour has not had as much attention historical. Vacche and Price’s Color, The Film Reader seemed to spark a critical interest in this area, which peaked with a volume of new writing, Colour and the Moving Image (Brown, Street and Watkins, 2013).

On the film The Sleeping-Mat Ballad, a project commissioned by the Welsh National Opera (WNO) and The Space, I acted as cinematographer, and used colour to express meaning within the images. However traditional film criticism would not attribute this authorial act to a cinematographer. The prevailing assumption of most film criticism is that the director has sole authorial responsibility.

Film authorship has been attributed to directors since the 1940s. The auteur theory typifies a practice of crediting directors with all meaningful, creative responsibility for the films that they direct. The literary notion of single authorship dominates analysis of an art form that is collaborative in its process of making.

These two persistent, yet anachronistic assumptions undermine any nuanced understanding of authorship in film. My research questions the notion of single authorship, and explores a model of collaborative authorship in film, which is inclusive of producers, scriptwriters, actors, designers, cinematographers, editors and composers.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationScreenworks
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2016


  • Cinematography
  • Film Authorship
  • Colour
  • The Sleeping Mat Ballad


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