The Norwich Film Festival caught up with Nick Moore one of the festival’s guest judges around his work in editing and directing. Nick has edited some of the biggest films from Hollywood and the UK. These include The Full Monty, Notting Hill, Love Actually, Nanny McPhee and most recently Burnt. He was also assistant editor on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This is what he had to say…….
How did it all start for you becoming a Film Editor? Were there any particular mentors who developed your craft?
My first job out of collage was at small production company in Soho London. They made training films and the occasional commercial for companies like Castrol Oil and British Leyland as it then was. I was employed as a runner – fetching tea, coffee and sandwiches, etc. Because it was such a small company I got to work in the office, in the cutting rooms and on the shoots – so it was a great all round exposure. Like everyone out of film school I wanted to direct, and we had two directors who worked for the company so I sort of latched onto them. I did notice that one in particular – when we got into the cutting room to put the films together – his films were thought through and always went together quickly and effectively. I asked him about it and he told me that when he had first started in the industry, the advice he had been given to become a good filmmaker, was to learn how to edit, and it had always stood him in good stead. So I took his advice – thank you Bertie Wilkins.
Once I got into feature film cutting rooms, I was lucky to work with a wonderful Editor, Jim Clark. He had a reputation of being tough, but I loved him and working with him was a delight and an education. In those days of cutting on film, the assistant had to be in the room with the editor all the time. Jim was a wonderful teacher as well as a wonderful editor.
You’ve worked on some massive Hollywood and UK films. How do you think a freelance editor could build their career?
There’s so much chance involved, and oftentimes you really don’t get to pick and choose projects – other than saying yes please or no thank you. And in truth, saying no can be hard as a freelancer.
You have to grasp every opportunity and make the best of it. Get to know everyone you work with. This business is built on relationships, and its a very small world out there, so make the best of it.
You have dipped your toe into the field of directing (Horrid Henry, Wild Child, Pudsey The Dog: The Movie); what was your inspiration around directing? Do you have a preference for directing or editing?
Well as I mentioned – I really always wanted to do it, and have been lucky enough to try. It’s great – what’s not to love. It’s very hard work but so worth it.
As for a preference – I couldn’t say. I love editing, and editing one’s own material is both wonderful and eye opening. I’ve been lucky enough to work with editors who are also my friends on the films I’ve directed, and we have the best time in the cutting room. Also, because we have the same background training we tend to think the same way – they are able to help me enormously during the shoot, with suggestions for making the film better.
Nick, you have edited a lot of family & romantic films. What is it about these genres that attract you to these types of features?
I suppose I’m emotionally lead. I find any kind of human endeavour fascinating and worthwhile. While I love all genre’s of movies I supposed I’m drawn to the more emotional fare.
Editing can be a hugely creative and incredibly timely part of the film making process – Do you think editing could be seen as an under appreciated art form by new film makers?
I do think its suffered due to the newer technology. Now everyone has cutting software on their computers and can edit! When we were on film there was a certain mystique to it.
Often-time the director would look through a reel with the editor, talk about the cut, decide on the changes, and then leave the editor to his ‘knitting’ as Zephirelli used to say.
Another issue is that we can put off the decision making process – as in, we can have endless versions of a cut and keep stirring them round until we run out of time.
Also do you ever feel overwhelmed with the amount of footage you need to edit? Do you have a strategy to manage this?
No never – if there’s a lot, then you just have to be disciplined about it. Figure out a process for yourself and work through it. I often think that the editor and his crew are probably the only people to see every foot on a shoot. I only ever worry if there’s not enough footage – then I’m on the phone to the director letting him know he might regret it later.
Films are now edited using computers rather than more traditional cutting of actual celluloid. Have you worked with both and do you have a preference? Do you think it’s important for Editors to learn both skills still?
I think there little chance now of cutting solely on film. It was slow and cumbersome and very work intensive – but I feel privileged that I had the opportunity.
Working in a collaborative process with the director is hugely important when piecing a film together; do you feel this is the most important relationship an editor can have?
It is – I think whenever we are sent up for a job interview – it’s clear that we can do the job, I always feel the interview is more about whether you are going to get on with the director and have the sort of relationship needed to get the job done.
What have been the most challenging and rewarding films you have been involved with?
Couldn’t say really – they are all challenging in their way.
What would be your top 5 tips for those wanting to access a career in editing?
Patience, patience, patience, patience and more patience.
Any advice for those wanting to make a film?
Try not to spend your own money. And don’t give up. It took John Huston twenty five years to get THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING filmed. He made it with Michael Cain and Sean Connery, but when he originally started looking for finance, he had Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable signed on.
How important do you think film festivals are in establishing future talent in both the UK and abroad?
I think very important. Film makers need to get out there and be seen and have their work seen. And it’s important as a film maker to see what other work is being done – it will inspire you.
Interview by Craig Higgins