Cut to Black: Tawan Bazemore, Colorist and Editor

For each day in the month of February, the African American Steering Committee will be highlighting Local 700’s African American members, both past and present, and their accomplishments. We look forward to showing the contributions and influences African Americans have had on the industry.

Name: Tawan Bazemore

What’s your job? Motion Picture Colorist and Editor

List the credits you’re most proud of. SOUND, Jim Brown’s “Amer-I-Can Dream,” “Holden On,” “Immortal,” “Paper Friends,” “That Moment When,” “Manic,” Vanity,” “They’re Watching,” and “After the Storm.”

What are you working on right now? As a colorist for my new post-production company, /tōn/, we have recently picture-locked and released a short film titled “The Recipe,” which I edited, colored, and directed. This film is set to have its World Premiere at the Denton Black Film Festival and has been nominated for Best Short Narrative. Additionally, we are actively developing proprietary plugin tools for post-color and deliverables.

Who and what are your influences and/or mentors? To begin, color science fascinates me. I am captivated by the mix of color, contrast, and dynamic range, and how they contribute to the emotional impact and narrative depth of a visual story. Additionally, my cinematic influences encompass a wide spectrum, drawing from international and classic cinema. My upbringing exposed me to the works of Hitchcock, as well as French, Italian, and independent African American-centered films. Across various disciplines in cinema, I count an eclectic mix of mentors who have left a lasting impression on me. They include Gordon Parks, Thelma Schoonmaker, Michael Schultz, Oscar Micheaux, Ava DuVernay, Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee, Louis Malle, Christopher Nolan, Dave Hussey (Colorist), Barry Jenkins, David Fincher, Alfonso Cuarón, Park Chan-wook and Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

What books are you reading, shows are you watching and/or movies you’re excited about? Currently reading “Full Spectrum” by Adam Rogers. Currently watching “American Nightmare” on Netflix, and I’m excited to see Jordan Peele’s “GOAT” when released.

What would be your superhero name? So, my dad came up with this hilarious nickname “Wuan-e-woo” for me, instead of just calling me Tawan. My mom thinks it suits me because, as she puts it, I’m a bit of an eclectic, carefree character. The name itself sounds like something out of an action-comedy movie, like a slightly more sophisticated and tougher version of Blank Man. I suppose…

What are your black history month memories and any cultural or historical impacts on your life? For the initial 19 years of my life, I was misled… but at 20, I came to realize that black individuals, including myself, embody much more than a symbol of struggle or a month designated to our history. We are rich in heritage, resilience, and influence, surpassing the confines of a mere 28 days. Despite enduring significant hardships, we exude strength and possess deep-seated roots. Each February, I make a point to watch 28 black films, one per day, a tradition I now share with my wife. Additionally, I remain actively engaged in Black filmmaker communities year-round, offering guidance on color and its technological aspects, aiming to empower more black filmmakers to excel in post-production and master the art of bringing their visions to life through editing and color grading.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? It takes what it takes.

If you could time travel, when would you go and why? If given the chance to travel back in time, I’d only do so if I could return to the present afterward. If I had the opportunity to journey into the past, I’d be curious to witness the origins of my family line, including both the positive and challenging moments throughout history. Despite my current appreciation for my family, I’m intrigued by the idea of observing the unfolding of it all and understanding how I arrived at this point. It would allow me to truly appreciate all the remarkable events that have shaped my family into the unique, crazy, and loving group it is today.

What’s a little known fact about you? What are your hidden (or not so hidden) talents? An interesting tidbit about me is that I happen to be an excellent listener. I genuinely care about what people have to say, and I believe it’s a way of showing them that they matter to me. As for a hidden talent, well, if I spilled the beans, it wouldn’t be much of a secret, would it?

What’s your favorite (Black) television/movie moment? Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X”: Outside the jail when Denzel (Malcolm) used his hand signals to control the movements of the nation of Islam. Very powerful!

Was there a television show/movie that inspired you to pursue your career? Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” Ousman Sembene’s “Black Girl,” the opera “La Boheme.” And last but not least Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta’ Have it.” 

What’s your personal/professional mantra? “Fear has no friends…only hostages.”

What’s the last show/movie that left you speechless? Park Chan-Wook’s “A Decision to Leave”

What would be your dream project to work on? If I could choose my ultimate project to work on, it would have been to Direct, Edit, and Color Grade a film starring the late Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier. Alternatively, I’d be thrilled to take on the roles of Director, Editor, and Colorist for a remake of “Bullitt” (originally starring Steve McQueen) or “Three Days of the Condor.”