Editors on editing

Neil Pittaway (Editor & Former Head of BBC Post-Production)

An editor is an arbiter, a new pair of eyes and ears, a solver of the impossible, a smoother of the ragged, a time and finance dependent project manager, an expert on the total production process and quite often, a creator of a finished product way beyond the wildest dreams of the producer, or their budget.

Chris Booth (Editor)

The editor is your first viewer, they carry with them an objectivity that you, the programme maker, doesn’t have. They may well suggest things you abhor, simply because you have not seen that particular solution yourself. They bring a freshness of view that can contribute much to your programme, and they have the benefit of the experience of all the other programmes they have worked on.

Nowadays, editors are specialising in drama, in documentary, in light entertainment. Some say this is a good thing, but you lose the cross fertilisation of ideas that can occur when, say, a light entertainment editor works on sport – the end result can win awards.

Dave Rixon (Editor & Creator of ‘Video Mickey’)

If an editor was not involved in the shoot, he or she is perhaps the best person to give the production team those valuable “first impression” comments, for the viewer often sees the finished piece just once!

Jon Bignold (Editor)

Editing works best when it is collaborative. A good editor can cast a fresh eye on a scene or an idea and see where its relevance or value lies, without the baggage of the effort which was required to bring it to fruition.
This is not just the negative business of throwing out stuff which no longer works; it can just as easily involve nurturing a fragile idea which the director may have dismissed as not working.

Editors are almost always heroic. Directors arrive with high hopes but have often had a difficult journey to get to the editing stage of the process. A good editor can help them to see how everything can work out in the end.

Editing can involve spending long hours in a dark room with the same person – perhaps for weeks or months on end. Not all personalities work well together under those circumstances. A good editor will find something other than film and TV to talk about.

Working with an editor requires a certain amount of confidence and self-control. It involves giving them the space to be creative, whilst maintaining the sense that you care about it as much as they do.

Editors somehow combine a fanatical approach to detail with a desire to go home on time.

Martin Baker (Editor)

The editor’s role is valuable because they act as a bridge between the production team and the viewer. The editor is unlikely to be on the shoot and hopefully is not involved with any production politics, so they come to the footage with fresh eyes and bring a valuable independent perspective.

Rob Gordon (Editor)

Any good director knows that allowing an editor the creative freedom to cut their pictures, means they can get the best end result. A good editor will be sympathetic to a director’s requirements, but present them in a way that maybe a director had not thought of. An experienced editor’s visual cutting expertise can enhance the way a show is presented to the audience.

Nick Pitt (Editor).

My job as an editor is to give back more than I got, I aim to surprise the director (in a good way of course). My best work is done on my own, working at the rushes to give the best interpretation of the director’s, producer’s and cast’s intentions. This applies just as well in unscripted work, where the job is still to tell the story. Hopefully, when we get to the first viewing, the bulk of the work is already done.

Robyn Rogers (Editor)

Editors are key in shaping the all-important storyline in detail, whether it be documentary or drama, that’s why they often make good producers or directors (Spielberg and Scorsese, for example, started in the cutting room).

Penny Heighes (Editor)

We are there to be harsh with every frame, which has been lovingly shot and nurtured, but at the same time we are there to ease the pain of casting it aside.

Barry Stevens (Editor)

A video editor is a tailor, a chef, a carpenter, a shepherd, a nurse, a chemist, a memory bank, and many other things.

Simon Hughes (Editor)

A good editor is like a good jazz drummer, he keeps time, determines the groove and very occasionally there’ll be a subtle solo. Most of the time, you won’t know they’re there.


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