Logo Rob Buckley – Freelance Journalist and Editor

Cutting Edge

Cutting Edge

Producers are picky about their editors. As a companion to last November's poll of top film editors, this month we reveal their favourites in the video suite, from votes they cast in last year's three major surveys of broadcast, commercials and corporate production. This time, out of 250 votes cast, we counted 200 different names - and a number of the editors that made their way to the top of that huge pile have fans in more than one of those disciplines. Rob Buckley finds out why

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Editors can be the unsung heroes of production. Since a bunch of French academics came up with the concept of the auteur during the 50s, the director has been regarded as responsible for everything inf ilm-making and television work from set-decoration to sound-effects. Except of course, there are a lot of people who actually do it for him: like editors.

They can be either invisible or overwhelming in their contributions to a final product, yet most directors and producers have favourites since they know just how much a good editor brings to a show. Over the past year, we polled independent production companies to find out their three top video editors, and six names stood out a mile from close to 200 nominated. So how do they feel about being judged better than their peers, and why do they think they have been?

No 1: John Hollis
“It's a bit of a surprise,” says Hollis, top video editor this year. Odd that, because he's been nominated before, in our 1998 poll in which we lumped video editors together with film. Perhaps he didn't expect lightning to strike twice in the same place? No, but for an editor that deals mainly in ads, he says, “it's good to be to be recognised in such a wide-ranging poll.”

Starting as a tape-op for SVC, he worked his way up to editing both on- and offline, using one of the first disc-based editing suites. After a six-year stint at The Mill (some of it before it was even called The Mill) as head of editing, “I got into Avid a little bit, but then I wanted to know why we couldn't online like we could in an Avid,” Hollis left to become one of the directors of the esteemed Smoke & Mirrors, which he and his partners formed when they decided Inferno was the way to go for online editing and compositing.

Hollis is one of the few brave souls who have ventured from behind the editing desk to direct (although he doesn't like to talk about it much). He's even braver for deciding to stick with editing as well. “I quite like the idea of doing both. Directing's as important as the compositing side, but I still like being on the cutting-edge.” His directing skills mean that he's seen the other side of the business, so he understands his clients' points of view better, he maintains.

But although he splits his time between the two roles, he has no worries about new, undertrained and inexperienced editors coming into the business to poach his work. “People with real editing experience always go further. And if you're into graphics as well as editing, you'll rise to the top.”

One of his main selling-points, he believes, is he's one of the lucky few who likes to have an editing suite full of clients. “I like the interaction with people. I enjoy it.”

A confirmed fan of promos and commercials (“although when I'm on an Avid, I don't mind what I do”), his main gripe isn't a decline in budgets (they're the same as ever, he says), it's clients not planning their budgets and schedules to give enough time or money to post-production. “They spend so much making it look good to start with, they forget it can all fall apart in post,”

No 2: Jason Krakowski
Krakowski is one of a rare breed - an editor who works normal hours. He has a family to look after, true, but that's not the only reason he goes home in the evenings. “If you're tired, you can't edit and I don't think there's any point trying. When people ask me what my overtime rate is, I tell them I don't have one because I don't do overtime.” He also berates the industry for causing the late nights by starting late - he prefers an 830am start.

He began in the film cutting-room, inspired to join the business by watching Laurel and Hardy on the box in the 60s. “I was only six but I knew I wanted to be involved in it in someway,” he remembers. This linear beginning taught him the value of thinking before editing; now, by sticking to proper times, he can think about what he's going to do before he does it, he says.

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