- Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015
Colorist Santiago Padilla has joined creative color boutique Incendio, where he will work alongside fellow artists Luis Silva and Clark Muller. Padilla, whose portfolio spans feature films, music videos and commercials, began his post-production career at R!OT, where he quickly advanced under the mentorship of leading colorists Muller and Bob Festa. Padilla has enjoyed successful tenures at Company 3, New Hat and, more recently, Picture Head. His credits include the upcoming feature Low Riders (Blumhouse, Universal), music videos “Tamale” and “IFHY” for Tyler the Creator, “FWU” for up-and-coming singer-songwriter Pia Mia, Funny Or Die’s “You're So Hot" series with Dave Franco and Chris Mintz-Plasse, as well as ad projects for DirecTV, NBA, and Dr. Dre’s Beats1 podcast “The Pharmacy”.
“Santi really embodies our vision for Incendio,” said Muller, who founded the boutique in 2011 with the philosophy that creative artistry and technical excellence should work hand-in-hand. “He is a fearless artist with deep knowledge, a tireless work ethic and a passion for breaking new ground.”
“I was part of the last generation of colorists who really got to touch film, and yet I was born into the digital world,” said Padilla, 32, who is excited to be reunited with Muller at Incendio. “A lot of my looks aspire to the filmic, because of what I absorbed under so many powerhouse colorists. It’s not ‘safe’ by any means, but my clients like that.”
One of twelve siblings in a Mexican American family, “Santi” describes himself as “born in Mexico, but made in America.” In fact, he’s the only one of his siblings born outside the US. He and his parents were naturalized in the 80s, yet, returning to Mexico for a Quinceanera that became an adventure worthy of its own movie, the family was detained and young Santi’s documents confiscated. The Padillas returned to the US, where Santi earned a 3.87 GPA in high school, and full ride scholarship offers from universities out of state. As a result of the “Quinceanera episode,” he still lacked proper documentation, so he attended Santa Monica College instead. It was in Santa Monica that Padilla met Gary Williamson, an online editor from R!OT, where he became a regular presence, showing up with ribs from the BBQ joint he worked at in exchange for the opportunity to learn the ins and out of post production. Offered a job in shipping and receiving, Padilla scrambled to produce evidence of his citizenship (“I stupidly acquired a fake ID and green card from MaCarthur Park,” he said, laughing. “I might as well have bought red flags”), but all he could come up with was an old piece of paper with a Social Security number on it. He was panicked and dejected, until R!OT Managing Director Richard Cormier informed him that the number was legit and the job was his. Padilla broke down, crying tears of joy. He was 19 years old.
Padilla rose through the ranks at R!OT, becoming telecine assistant on Jerry Bruckheimer’s Cold Case, then assistant to Bob Festa. The young colorist took on unique challenges with gusto. At that time, RED was new and the first feature shot on that format was Gamers. “No one wanted to touch it, and I said, ‘Hand it over, baby!’” said Padilla. The movie became a cult hit and Padilla earned a reputation for being a bit of a gunslinger when it came to color. “Now that I look back I think, ‘Whoa that kid took too many chances!’” he mused. At Company 3, he worked on X-Men: First Class, among other projects. Still, Padilla was in “starting position” at the huge outfit. Moving on to New Hat, he learned Baselight, added commercial DI to his resume, and beefed up his music video cred, eventually coloring Miguel’s “Adorn” - which garnered more than 50 million views on YouTube.
As Padilla comes to Incendio, he feels he’s returning to his roots. “I’m grateful for every opportunity I’ve had,” he said, “but there is something special about a smaller, tight-knit boutique where artistry permeates the atmosphere.” In terms of regrets, Padilla’s had a few, such as the sporadic pangs of not having gone to film school. And yet, with his new home at Incendio, the award-winning horror short Luna among his recent credits, and projects like Low Riders coming to fruition (he has been working with director Ricardo de Montreuil since the inception of the film, which stars Demian Bechir, Eva Longoria and red-hot newcomer Tony Revolori), Padilla feels he could not have written a better tale for himself. “The education I received on the job was better than any film school,” he concluded. “It was like being at an Ivy League university for colorists.” Clearly, Padilla has graduated with honors.