Jan 222017
 

Whilst I couldn’t say a lot has happened in the last couple of weeks things certainly have changed. Mostly this centres on the fact that I am no longer funemplyed but actually unemployed and seeking work. After many emails back and forth about a potential start date with promises that it will start in February and that I would be told as soon as it was fixed, I came out of the cinema on a Monday evening to see I had an email and a voicemail from the production manager saying they would be giving this job I’d been waiting on since November to someone else. They said it was someone ‘in house’ usually meaning someone who is on a staff contract and therefore cheaper. I later found out who actually got the job – a friend of mine in fact – who isn’t staff but has been working for the company (if not this series producer or possibly even director) and is probably a better choice for them. He also has been championed by one of the top documentary editors so if he’s involved then I had no chance.

I’m not angry that it went to someone else, I’m annoyed that I was strung along for so long. I know it’s just the way these things work (terrible excuse) but to have them say they were really interested in having me since November and making me promise I’d let them know if anyone else was offering me work whilst they sorted their dates out it’s then more than a little galling to have them give it to someone else. They were possibly just hedging their bets but who knows. What this means now is I have to really look for work during the worst time in TV as January & February tend to be quite light on work with things starting to pick up again in March.

So, in attempt to be in some way productive I found a slightly newer version of Avid that my license covers. I installed it hoping it will fix my export problem. Exports work fine, but AMA files are less good, so still not a fix. I’ll have to investigate further.

I received a call from the director I’ve been helping get his DVDs into some sort of web friendly files for. He is a bit of a technophobe (as is my mother) and so we arranged for me to go help him out one afternoon as I’m free. We discussed some possible further work as he is getting a lot of his old films transferred from master tape into ProRes files for him to store and create a showreel from. I could make a few quid from it but it’s not going to be enough to keep me going for any length of time so I still need to find work, but it was good chatting to him at his very nice house. With any luck it will lead to some real work with him in the future – he’s made some great programmes and I’d love to work with him one day.

In general I’ve been finding motivation an issue and my mood has been through some low points during the weeks. Every few days I check the 3 or 4 main job sites I use and I keep a daily eye on the facebook groups but I’m not very hopeful knowing all too well that this is the quiet time for TV. I met with an old family friend who suggested just trying to meet with certain people face to face which made me think about meeting a few of the talent managers I know to discuss with them my position and aspirations – it can’t hurt. I applied to a job posting based in Bristol as it should be for a couple of months at least and I could justify the travel. I think I know some people out Bristol way so I could possibly crash on friends’ sofas during the week and head back to London for the weekends. I’m yet to hear back. I also received a text a few days back asking for my experience in QC. This is the process of thoroughly checking a final video tape or file to make sure it meets all broadcast standards and has no faults in it and is possibly the sole area of post production I have no real training in. I’m sure I could learn it quickly enough but the project in question is going to a tricky QC so they said they’d just keep me on file.
A high point for me was seeing my first credit for 24 Hours in A&E the other night. It was on an episode I was actually quite involved with and was cut by someone I’ve worked with a couple of times who gives some great advice. I emailed him to let him know I’d seen it and to mention I was looking if he knew of anyone needing someone. He is currently on holiday but he confirmed my plan to make sure I get on the assistant scheme for the next series because it should be my gateway to being an editor. I’ve done some crisis planning and if I was really careful and spent as little money as possible I could possibly survive on my savings until the next series starts up. I really don’t want to – I’m going mad without work, and I’d like to spend those savings on holidays and so on – but equally I don’t want to get a 6 month contract in March as it would put me out for A&E. Here’s hoping on that 2 month job in Bristol.

Jan 092017
 

Rather than do a week by week I have decided to just amalgamate the holiday period into one blog. During the Friday afternoon lunch and drinks with the A&E team I had received an email asking if I meet with the series director of my next project, but as I had already booked transport home they booked me in for a phone call instead. During the call on Monday we chatted about my previous work, what I expect to get out of the job and my plans for the future as well as how this series would differ from the previous, plans for how we would work together, and reasons for it being delayed. It’s all down to logistics; a change of location and therefore group of people we will be filming. I’m sure I’ll be able to elaborate once I am working on it but for now suffice to say that it has similarities with the aforementioned issues that 999: What’s Your Emergency? faced. At the time of the call the director was still unable to give a definite date but said he was looking at a mid January start on casting so that filming would start early February with my job starting a week behind that – he’d keep in touch over the holiday to let me know if there was any progression.

By this time I had resigned myself to accepting that I would most likely spend January unemployed and had managed to plan for it so that I would be fine if I was unable to find filler work. January is quiet at best in TV so other than long term jobs starting up there isn’t a lot going. If I don’t start in February things will be more difficult but I shan’t worry about that until it becomes a prospect.

Over New Years I saw a job on Facebook which looks perfect; junior or assistant editor wanted to cut a few taster reels for international versions of programmes. Having already cut development tasters for in a previous job and with my editing experience on A&E I thought I would be just right for it and it was advertised as being a couple of weeks work or so in January. I applied but didn’t get it, however the person offering the job emailed me to say that whilst they filled the position quickly they were impressed with my CV and would get in touch if they ever had other similar work. It was a nice response to get and filled me with confidence. I then received an email in the New Year saying the new project were still unsure of the exact date but we would definitely be starting in February, perhaps nearer the end though. This is still ok but I warned that if it were to be later I would have to look for other work.

Over Christmas we started planning a family holiday that had been mooted earlier in the year. I was initially looking forward to it and had decided to book out the 2 weeks well in advance but in the last weeks of A&E I heard there is the possibility of the next series starting earlier than this one which would most likely clash with this holiday. The Garden run a scheme on 24 Hours in A&E designed to progress edit assistants to editors, with quite a few of the alumni returning as editors. I missed out on the opportunity this time as I had already booked two weeks in Thailand in August which they said they couldn’t work around when starting in June, and with the feedback I received upon finishing this contract I would be stupid to miss it next time so therefore I cannot commit to any holiday during that time just in case. I Shall email the producers in the coming week to see if they have an idea as to when they will start up again – despite not yet being finished on this series.

I will probably continue with more sporadic updates to this blog whilst I am unemployed as I am not as actively seeking work, knowing that I intend to start a longish contract in February which I don’t want to double book myself for.

Jan 062017
 

Monday

I started my last week on 24 Hours in A&E by seeing the editor about the email from Friday. He is in the same position as most editors in the mad rush to Christmas and needs interstitials, STAT! I was given an entire 8 hour shift and told to find interstitials from that. Unfortunately there was not a lot to work with in this period but I managed to pull 15 minutes of useable material and cut 1 interstitial. I also finished one of the staff ones I’d been doing and gave it to him as well. I then tidied up the next time from Friday that we had rushed out the door. One of the changes had been to change the music to have a boom at the end rather than the silence I had used to go with the natural punctuation from the action. This took a while as it meant other edits needing changing to match music cues but I made it work. Interestingly, after the series producer reviewed the changes, he decided that my original idea was better and so we reverted to it.

Tuesday

This morning I was given another next time for an episode where there isn’t much drama – there are no red phones and very few punch points. It’s still an interesting episode, we just don’t have that jeopardy moment when the call comes in and the ambulance arrives. I think I managed to get enough drama into the next time and the editor was happy with it. An exec producer saw it briefly and asked for one change (which I agree with, it improves it) and the series producer asked for another, also not unreasonable, change.

Wednesday

Busy day today; most of the exec and series producers are rushing between suites and difficult to track down yet every time they pass my desk I get a new request. First was another minor change to next time, then I was tasked with completing a quick interstitial for an editor who had started already, then we had an urgent request to find a new top of show interstitial, preferably from the receptionists as they are usually a good way of starting the programme. The problem we have is that by now all of the good stuff that has been pulled has been used, therefore the best plan of action was to trawl through and find more. We’ve started finding usable stuff but nothing that great. We’ll have to continue tomorrow.

Thursday

Still trawling through the many conversations of the receptionists. One I found and cut was going to be used until a reshuffle of receptionist moments between episodes meant that it wasn’t needed for this one. Instead it was given to another editor working on an episode to be completed in the new year. During all this I was given about half a dozen more changes to the next time for the non dramatic episode. The series producer has accepted we are limited by the episode’s content but the exec keeps trying to eek out a little more from it, which I guess is their job, I just feel ill and I’m going to a Christmas party tonight, not for A&E but the company I was working for on Supervet and before that 999: What’s Your Emergency?

Friday

Even busier than yesterday I am given a last minute next time that wants finishing before 2pm when we all plan to go for a Christmas lunch. This episode is much easier than the last as it is more dramatic and has some great characters but I still have to wait for busy producers to find time to view, change, and sign it off. I eventually get the go ahead to organise an upload to go to channel just as we all gather for a quick thank you from the execs and the handing out of small bottles of fizz before going for lunch. I’m saddened to discover that some of the production team (those I would have preferred to sit and chat with as I speak to them rarely during work) are unable to join as they are just too busy. Still feeling ill, I join for the meal and a quick drink afterwards before collecting my stuff and leaving work for the last time this year. Another time I would have revelled in staying out as long as possible as I’m sure some of the stalwarts would have kept the party going long into the night, but not this time. A bit anticlimactic but I can live with that.

Jan 052017
 

Monday

Having spent a couple of hours on the wedding video over the weekend and sent a rough cut on to the client he came today and told me he loves it – such a relief. They want a couple more aerial shots put in from their drone they bought but that’s fine, in fact it will improve the transitions from prep to church to reception so I’m happy with these notes. I should be able to finish that off this week and then not have to think about it.

In my day job I finished one search for specific shots and started another. With only 2 weeks to go before we have to have over 20 episodes delivered we are now so busy that we have too many demands and have to say to some people that we will get around to their request later. Generally the reception to this is good; people understand the whole team are busy and are just thankful for anything we can do to help.

Tuesday

I’ve been given a new interstitial to cut for another programme that is lacking in light hearted and funny moments. Without these, the main stories are still the same but the tone of the overall show is too heavy for them to be appreciated. You have to have both ups and downs for a rollercoaster to be fun, similarly you have to have light hearted moments to allow the serious ones to have their poignancy. I was tasked with making something funny out of a couple of characters who weren’t particularly funny at all. This was made more difficult due to the mix of languages used in their discourse. Having trawled through it all and cut it down to a useable 30 minutes of footage I think I might get something from it. I then spoke to the editor about it and he gave me an idea as to how to improve it. His suggestion meant faking the scene a little – an interesting point in documentary.

In all documentaries there is always a certain degree of fakery; just making an edit in time means you are affecting the raw footage and therefore not merely documenting an event but representing it to meet one’s own agenda. The art of documentary making is to do this without adjusting the truth of the event. In this case a conversation was started in one area of the hospital then dropped but picked up on and explored in more depth when in another part of the hospital. By then, however, there was only one camera filming what was going on making editing it down extremely difficult. To work around this I have made it seem as though most of the conversation was held in the first location, continued slightly as they changed location and then ended when they reached the new area. Whilst this isn’t completely true to the event the main point of it – the conversation they held – is kept largely intact, albeit heavily edited down to the highlights.

I stayed for an hour or so after normal hours to work on the wedding video. Managed to polish off one of the two rough sequences. Just one more rough sequence to edit then I need to do a pass through the whole film before it’s done.

Wednesday

Another day, another next time tease. I was given a pretty good episode with some really good punchy bits and good drama as well as some really good light hearted and humourous sequences. As ever the difficulty was getting the tease down to time whilst managing to show enough of what happens to entice the viewer into watching next week. An interesting point I learnt a few weeks back was that whilst 24 Hours in A&E maintains an average of 1.6 million viewers* the returning number is far lower, meaning that most viewers will watch a couple of episodes out of a series and not necessarily consecutive ones. In this episode the big case involved a patient with an issue that they only ever refer to in technical jargon. In the fullness of the episode it is fully explained but to do so in less than 30 seconds and maintain the drama was almost impossible. I sent a version off to be seen by the producers, we’ll see what they think tomorrow. The afternoon was then spent back on finding possible interstitials. I hit a mental block, possibly related to the frustration of the earlier next time but more likely mood related. I faltered and became largely unproductive for the last hour or so and it made me wonder what others do in this situation.

Thursday

Today I managed to create 3 sequences from the interstitial I hit a mental block on last night, so that made me happier. Even better, the editor and producer both like them and have given me notes to just fix some minor points. I then had to search through a load of chat about brexit which didn’t help my mood. This was because an episode that happens over the referendum result day might have to have a short piece removed for what someone says so I was looking for alternatives.

Friday

Due to a gig I’m going to tonight I am on a half day – woohoo! I started with some tricky notes on both the above interstitials and next time. The next time needed fixes within half an hour for an export so it could be seen by the channel which was a bit pressured but I was allowed to leave it with fixes needed for after the viewing so that eased it off a bit and I made the deadline. I was then emailed at 20:15 about what work needed doing first thing Monday morning, both on the interstitial and on another set of interstitials.

 

*C4 first broadcast alone. http://www.barb.co.uk