These are two frame grabs from "The Hush". Color (or lack of it) in this film plays a large role in setting the tone and atmosphere of a dark and gritty world. I began by doing loads of testing both before and after production. I wanted the story to feel like a painted graphic novel that had no restraints in terms of the 'colors' journey. It would serve the stories emotion rather than trying to 'photographically' represent any true color or any pleasing print ad type visuals. To put it simple, it was the best way to tell the story.
Here is a shot of Zach Gossett (aka. The Hush) before my color pass.
The odd white balance stained my image as we anticipated so that when I did my color stylization work I would be left with a very rusty, dirtier image. So, here is the same shot after having gone through a two stage color pass.
I wanted to see bold highlight (when necessary) and very deep shadows. Notice that his skin tone holds the interesting 'rusty' texture I referred to above.
Next we have two frames (not the exact same one but within the same instance) of a fearful character (portrayed by Chuck Phelps).
So there are already lot's of grays and neutral color tones here. And there is a very harsh light coming down at a 90 degree angle.
Here are a few frames later but more or less the same shot. I've increased the intensity of the highlights, gotten rid of certain mid-tones and enriched my blacks.
Spending that time to test and think things through really paid off. Once again these are things that work well with this particular story; your needs could be completely different but putting in that time will certainly pay off.