The endless pursuit of High Budget Drama!
Lately I've been feeling quite reflective about my career. By all accounts I'm in a good place. I worked my way into the TV industry and made the leap from Assistant to Editor quicker than many do. A large part of this was down to the fantastic folk I had around me, who afforded me opportunities to showcase my ability. I spent a huge part of my Assistant career working for on CBBC Drama. CBBC is an incredible channel to work for and part of my current reflections are in part down to not being in that position anymore. When I was an assistant all I ever wanted was to edit, and I still do, but those jobs were really special. I worked with producers, directors and editors who were all fantastic people and great at their jobs.
Once I stepped up to Editor I knew that I was stepping out into the unknown. CBBC only has a limited slate of drama and often bring in fresh faces to each series. I would have to network hard, bang on doors, put myself out there, more than I had ever done before. That's something I'm not really sure whether I'm any good at or not. Creating a first impression can be so hard and I really struggle to write those introductory emails. As for networking nights, forget about it. Walking up to perfect strangers and saying 'Hi I'm Tom, I'm an editor.', sounds easy but it's just not something I'm great at. In everyday life I probably come across as fairly confident but it doesn't extend to chatting to people I don't know and trying to sell myself.
I've recently started editing Coronation Street for ITV. I'm cutting two blocks of four episode's, back to back. It's my fourth credit since I stepped up, and by the end of this job I will have edited nineteen episodes of TV drama. So why so pensive? Well I'm getting there, don't worry.
For most people working in TV I'm sure we all got into TV wanting to work on a particular type of it. Whether that was reality, documentary, soaps, factual or whatever it may be. Well for me it was high end drama. I want to work on the shows that have people desperate for another episode, the shows that EVERYONE watch. I want to work on the shows that have the budgets to afford directors and editors all the time they need to craft the show to be as impressive as it can be. Now I'm not under any impression that as a relatively inexperienced editor I'm about to be given an episode of Game of Thrones to edit. Instead what I'm trying to do is find those shows that let people take the leap. Children's drama with plenty of VFX, 8pm shows that aren't quite in the high budget category but flirt with it. I'm also really trying to find work as an assembly editor.
For anyone not familiar with the role of an assembly editor, they put together the first cuts of scenes before passing them to the editor to refine. This is a job I really want to do. Lots of higher budget dramas use assembly editors. It gives you a chance to show your ability and if you do a good job, a lot of your original editing will make the final cut.
So how do I find those jobs? Well, that's where I'm coming up short. I didn't do a whole lot of assisting on high budget drama. I did a bit, and those connections might just come through. In general though, I find myself asking am I approaching the wrong people? Who would hire the assembly editor? Producer? Editor? Post Supervisor? I'm not really sure and can't seem to find answers.
Now I'd hate for anyone to think I'm not enjoying where I'm at in my career. Working on quick turnaround shows is a great thing to do at this point in my career. Come up against a problem and you need to be decisive and creative, work the rushes and get around it. Be bold with your choices. Anyone can cut a scene with no creativity in a rush. The art is finding ways to make scenes stand out but also making it through the over stack of scenes you have to edit that day. I have no doubt the experience I've gained so far has made me a far better editor than I was before. Now I just need someone connected to a higher budget drama to let me showcase it for them.
I might not have all the experience to fall back on, but I have passion and real drive. I'll keep grafting and go wherever I need to, whenever I need to in order to find these opportunities. You just watch me.