Sean Ash – Editor / Director
Originally from Nottingham, Sean moved to London after graduating from Bournemouth University where he was one of the first graduates of the highly respected Media production Degree and had his graduate film selected by the college for inclusion in the BP student film expo.
Sean made his first film aged 15 at Nottingham’s ‘New Cinema Workshop’, which was also frequented by director Shane Meadows. His early love of cinema was cemented by many an afternoon spent in the ABC cinema in his home town, where he was lucky to have access to unlimited free entry through his uncle, the projectionist.
One of the features of his University course was working on the films of others in various roles and Sean soon became the go-to guy for editing in his year, and rekindled his first love in the filmmaking process: putting pictures together in the edit suite.
Road to success: ups and downs
They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I feel that the worst that any edit job can throw at me (no clapperboard, timecode or live sound on multi-cam shoots, to name a few) pales into insignificance when compared to a year of extreme sciatica. I was unable to walk without severe pain, had an operation to correct the problem, and lost 30% of the muscle mass in my right leg due to not using it to bear weight. Fortunately it was ok when sitting down, so I’m proud of never missing any jobs during this time, despite it taking quite a lot longer then normal to hobble to the edit suite during this period.
Another tough time which springs to mind is when I was threatened with strangulation by a slightly unreasonable producer at a Middle Eastern broadcasting company that shall remain nameless. Suffice to say I have yet to come across another suite where it was felt necessary to put a sign on the wall saying “Please do not shout or throw tapes at the editor”, which is unbelievable but 100% true. I stuck it out there for 7 months, becoming one of the department’s longest serving members in the process!
Greatest achievements so far
I worked with singer/songwriter David Gray over a number of years, starting when he used my photographs taken during his American tour on the album cover for ‘Sell Sell Sell” (my first trip abroad), and then making a no budget video for the hit single “Please Forgive Me” which was playing on MTV 10 times a day at the time.
Editing can be a solitary occupation at times, so the best feedback I ever got was when 15,000 people went crazy as I mixed the concert visuals I had made live behind the band during their biggest gig to date. Seeing the visuals, lights and music come together so well in the finale of a great concert and getting a direct reaction when mixing it live is a moment I’ll always remember. Eliciting a cheer from such a crowd when armed only with a flight case filled with 12 different Betacam tapes, 4 decks, a mixer, and a setlist marked up with a complicated system of synching cues was a great feeling. It’s the closest I’ll get to being a rock star, whilst lacking the requisite skill of playing an instrument.
Another highlight was when I made a film for Mui Mui with Lyndsay Lohan for the photographers Mert and Marcus. Having been commissioned to film the campaign shoot in order to deliver stills grabbed from the footage, it seemed a pity not to put it all together into a finished film. So I made the film anyway for free, even if only for my own satisfaction. This showcasing of my skills went down extremely well with everyone concerned and led to working on films for the photographers for many years on major fashion campaigns (Gucci, Chanel, YSl, Calvin Klein, Valentino, American Vogue).
I made a music video for the band Orbital for their album “The Altogether” that commissioned a video for every track in order to release the album as a DVD version with a 5.1 surround sound mix. When they had a premiere evening of all the videos made, their long standing live sound guy was actually moved to tears by my film, which is hard to beat for a reaction. It also went down very well with the band as mentioned by Paul Hartnol in an interview about the album on their official website.
Projects I’m most proud of:
Always trying to improve and develop my aesthetic, I’m usually most proud of my latest work, which would be the “Chelsea Girls” fashion film for Document Journal magazine. I’m also proud to have developed a distinctive style, over the years, which runs as an identifiable constant throughout many different projects.
Biggest lessons in life and work:
In work, it’d probably be that editing trailers for pornographic films is not as much fun as it sounds. In life, appreciate what you have – family, friends and health are all that matters in the end. You can never spend too much time looking at Old Master paintings and there is no such thing as a metal frisby.