Britain in 1919 is a tumultuous mix of despair and hedonism, a nation cleaned out by the extravagances of the Great War. Returning soldiers, newly minted revolutionaries and criminal gangs all fight for survival in an industrial landscape gripped by economic upheaval.
Thomas Shelby and his family run the most feared and powerful local gang, the Peaky Blinders. Named for their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps, they make money from illegal betting, protection and the black market.
Peaky Blinders is a dazzling picture of England taken directly from the pages of our secret history. Leading lady Helen McCrory (Skyfall) has said the new series will change the face of British period drama. "[Director Otto Bathurst] said we're going to have realism but this is going to be shot like a Western. These are archetypes, these are heroes, these people don't see themselves as victims at all, and we're going to put it with White Stripes, we're going to put it with Nick Cave, it's going to look fantastic.
"You've never seen anything like it on telly and it's a new way of defining British period drama."
Written and created by Steven Knight for BBC Two Drama, Peaky Blinders was produced by Caryn Mandabach Productions and Tiger Aspect Productions. It is directed by Otto Bathurst and Tom Harper, and produced by Katie Swinden, with grade by Rushes Simone Grattarola.
Grattarola says, “I started work on it at the end of last year. The DoP George Steel, Otto and Tom had a good idea of what they wanted to achieve with the look of Peaky Blinders – the references were The Godfather and classic Westerns, including the colour palettes from Heaven’s Gate and Once Upon A Time In America. These were influences rather than a template for the look.”
Grattarola’s involvement began pre-production, while Steel was doing various camera and lighting tests. One of the aims was to try to emulate print stocks, which would help elude to 70s Westerns, and Grattarola achieved this through look-up-tables (LUTs) he devised for the production.
“We built a lot of the feel and texture of the piece using Resolve’s new LOG grading system,” he says. “The LUTs I created were manipulated throughout the series – they were used to establish the look and then moulded for each episode. The whole thing is quite layered – the writing and editing is layered and lots of things are going on – and we wanted to evoke that in the grade.”