Sometimes they're all you need to get to the right place. The right push in the right direction, and off we go – sometimes on what can be a life-changing experience. It was the case of film editor Matt Newman, who was asked by someone he knew (and we're sure he regards as a friend by now) if he would like to do work experience at a film trailer company.
Matt fell in love with the craft almost instantly, learning a whole new way to tell stories. For this Member Spotlight, we are diving into Matt's life as an editor, learning more about his passion for film editing and the inside-outs of his job.
How did you get into the industry?
I was working in Cleveland street at a well known magazine as a junior editor writing stories. I wasn’t enjoying it.
Someone I knew asked if I would like to do work experience at a film trailer company. I took a week off and did the work experience. On the last day I sat with a video editor, they showed me how to use Avid for an hour in the morning then went to the pub. I was tasked with cutting a 30sec tv spot from a Trailer. I instantly fell in love with the craft and it cemented my future and career, telling stories in a different way.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
London. I work at Trim who are based in Whitechapel.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
Diving Instructor somewhere in the Tropics. I love diving and have done hundreds of dives all over the world.
Can you explain your creative process?
My creative process actually begins with arduous preparation.
Watching every frame of the footage. Keep going through the footage over and over losing the bad bits until you have just the gold remaining. This takes time, however it is essential to the process and actually speeds up the creative part.
Then there's the fun bit - editing the footage. The first step I take is selecting the music and cutting the sound bed which is music & VO/Sync/Dialogue. The sound is the most powerful part of the edit. Finding the right track can take time as well, but it is essential to the film as it dictates structure, pace, emotion. Everything. I’ll keep working the sound until I get the hairs standing up on my neck. Then I'm ready to picture it.
Lastly the footage goes in and this is the fun part as I already know I have the best shots all ready to go. I begin editing first thing in the morning and then I wonder why I’m hungry… at 8pm. I often work late into the night as I find my job fun. I love it. I am very grateful to have found this craft.
You only get a small window to be creative and get the film perfect, usually a week or two, so I use every minute of that time. Because once it's out in the world, you can't change it.
So I’m always confident that I couldn’t have done anything more, and I am satisfied of the final piece. Fuck satisfied - I’m proud of the final piece.
How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?
When I first started my career cutting film trailers they had a Steenbeck in the basement. It was a relic but also kind of an icon to what has gone. Some of the older guys actually used to cut on it. The physical act of cutting and stitching together is fascinating and its origins are still in the language of digital editing today. Cutting, bins, pasting etc etc.
Essentially the technology went digital. Avid (software) I started on and back then a suite with all the gear was around £90k. So you wouldn’t even dream of a home setup. Now thank god, due to the situation we find ourselves in with lockdown, you can set up with whichever software you choose and all the gear for around £3-5k. Thank god for Zoom as well, as it has helped the remote editing process massively.
These days editing has became more and more accessible for people. I think in general the world editing their wedding videos and holiday films is great. And there is a lot of cool stuff being made on Vimeo. But there is also a lot of shit out there.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I have never had a problem staying inspired and motivated. I am so passionate about what I do. I’m utterly obsessed with every project I take on. I won’t rest until it is perfect.
I think for me the most important thing to do is to stop working at some point. To stop thinking about work. I find that hard.
Get sleep. Spend time with family and friends. Live. Recharge. All this will make your work better as a result. Early on in my career I would work every evening and every weekend trying to get more and more experience and build my reel. It's addictive. But you can't live your life in an edit suite.
I’m better at this now, but I still work a lot and very long hours.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
Little Dragon - Where You Belong - Music Video. This has just been released. I was given 10years of footage and live performance from the band, the perfect lockdown job. The final results are a testament to what can be produced during the heavy restrictions and with a lot of creativity.
This video takes us through a visceral visual replay of the band's story and memories, through personal moments and live shows, the video intended to feel fragmented as if within the minds eye of a band member, the visuals constantly interlinking. Only one scene in the video was captured and directed remotely by director Chris Saunders, this being the live performance section where the band performed the song.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Spending time with my family.
I love cooking. Reading. Gardening. Diving. Holidays abroad will hopefully happen again soon.
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
I earnt nothing for 10 years. It can get super demoralising to work so hard for so long and not to be able to afford to live. My family wanted me to be a lawyer. And were thoroughly disappointed when I chose editing.
They didn’t really understand what it was. They only knew I was not earning any cash. But hang in there and things change. Especially if you work hard and have a gift for it. Personally, I think within 5 years I was starting to feel comfortable.
My family is super proud of me know.