SPOTLIGHT: Erica Lee – Editor

Who is Erica Lee?

I am an Editor. And it has to be said we are the nerds of the creative industries as you have to engage with the technical stuff so that you can enjoy being creative. Luckily I get a kick out of reading manuals and brushing up on each software update and improved bit of technology that crops up so ridiculously often.

I have worked on promos, ads, branded content and motion graphics but these days I mainly edit observational and traditional documentaries. I believe the best stories come out of the collaboration between the Director and Editor so I like to dabble in scriptwriting too. It’s great that my love of music and DJ-ing is part of my job. Even when there isn’t music in a scene, I am always cutting to the phantom rhythm in my head!

How did your career path develop?

When I did my TV & Film degree in South Africa I decided that I hated editing. I wanted to be a camera operator. After university, a friend offered me access to her non linear edit suite on weekends. I progressed through the manuals and tutorials and realised that compared to the linear editing I was used to, non linear editing was a different beast – far more in tune with my way of thinking. Upon moving to the UK, I looked for jobs in camera, editing, floor managing, radio and everything related. It was an editing job that came through first. So in a way I didn’t choose editing – it chose me!

What do you consider your greatest achievement/s so far?

As a foreigner who didn’t grow up here, managing to crack the London prime time broadcast scene is something to be proud of. I’ve been lucky to cross paths with many talented professionals including Monty Don, Kevin McCloud, James Martin, Goldie, Miranda Hart and others. But the person I was most star-struck by has to be Sir David Attenborough. He dropped in to my edit suite to record a guide voice over – hearing that iconic voice first-hand was pretty surreal!

Any projects you are most proud of and why?

If meeting him wasn’t enough, when I edited “Reef Diaries” for Attenborough’s prestigious “Great Barrier Reef”, I got unique access to behind the scenes footage of Sir David munching Maltesers in a deep water submersible. What more could I ask for?

Another highlight was the documentary “Amazing Mighty Micro Monsters”, a selection of Attenborough’s most heroic insects, which I edited not only in 3D but destined for the giant screen. 4-metre-high spiders aside, it was a treat to view my film at the BFI IMAX.

And then there was the edit I did for the Queen. Yup, that’s “Her Majesty” to you and me. It was a short film about Bergen-Belsen for her first visit to the concentration camp. It had to be signed off by the folk at 10 Downing Street and everything.

Share your biggest lessons in life and work

Keep smiling. That can be difficult to remember when Avid is crashing and you’re up against deadlines and last minute changes. But a Director always appreciates someone who stays calm and puts a smile on their face when things are going pear-shaped!

View Erica’s Full Portfolio

SPOTLIGHT: Tom Canning – Editor / Self Shooting Producer-Director

Who is Tom Canning?

I’m a creator of stories and a storyteller. These overlap and rely on each other. I try to bring that combination to whichever part of the filmmaking process I’m working on. A film has to be aware of its audience, otherwise it fails its basic function. I focus greatly on who the audience is and what they need to see in order to feel addressed. From there I try to take them to the place the project wants them to go.

How did your career path develop?

I began as a runner, then junior cameraman, sound man and editor. I tried to learn everything I could about every aspect of filmmaking in order to better connect with the audience and tell the story – not to mention being able to cover roles when people were unavailable.

I then went freelance and edited for many years. This combined all the elements of filmmaking and allowed me to discuss details with directors and producers – to see how far the result had changed from their intention and why.

That’s when I began writing scripts. I then moved into producing and directing as I felt more comfortable with what I needed to achieve. Now I’m using all those skills to keep projects moving, from commercials and corporate films to short dramas and feature scripts.

What do you consider your greatest achievement/s so far?

Not giving up and the one or two awards I’ve received.

Any projects you are most proud of and why?

I’m used to working hard to create the best work I can, yet I often feel like I could have another go at certain elements after projects have gone out into the world. There are a few things that I’m proud of, like for instance a short drama that won awards and got into festivals or a short script that received an award. Scripts, however, are easy to be proud of as they are the most controllable – lone pieces of work that can be infinitely adjusted, not compromised by the headaches of production.

I’ve seen it all: project-saving edits, transformative re-edits, planned shots that worked, lucky shots I’ve stolen and inspiring moments of clarity at all stages. I did a job in Abu Dhabi that was long, complicated and had the largest crew I’d worked with. A job in Argentina that had a tiny crew but we got content worthy of 3 crews.

Share your biggest lessons in life and work

Try to understand others. It’s the key to communication and interaction.

View Tom’s Full Portfolio

PASSION: Aeris – Phillip Whiteman

Editor/Director/Producer Phillip Whiteman has shared with us some really cool insight on the making of one his recent personal projects, sci-fi short film Aeris, which he produced and co-wrote with director Tijmen Veldhuizen.

The film explores how the effects of pollution have forced humans to live below the surface of the earth. Years later, one man becomes increasingly frustrated yearning for more space. Against the warnings from the other inhabitants, he curiously ventures out of the underground colony seeing what no man has seen in 100 years.

It all started with an image: we had this idea of an astronaut walking around London, without a sign of life anywhere. Eventually, it evolved into the story of how plastics and other pollutants will – potentially – affect our world if we aren’t careful. We consulted with leading scientists and discovered that the possibility of something like this happening is terrifyingly accurate. In-short, plankton creates a third of the world’s oxygen and is an essential part of many ecosystems.

Plastics in the ocean are a huge problem (for a multitude of reasons) as it breaks down into tiny particles which fish and plankton eat, eventually killing them. If the aquatic ecosystem changes, it would be detrimental to the rest of the life on this planet. We embellished a little bit for the sake of the narrative – like in the final scenes of the film – but it is a real issue to be dealt with soon, otherwise the Earth won’t be able to keep sustaining life as we know it.

Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetee was a huge inspiration and was one of the few reasons why we used still photography to tell the story which follows a man who dreams and tests his imagination against reality. It represents the flashes/snapshots within his mind. On a practical level, we would have never been able to afford the visual effects or production budget on a moving image film that looks as cool as ‘AERIS’. By using stills we could go anywhere with a micro-crew and we didn’t really need to record sound (as there is no dialogue). Also, photoshopping isn’t going to need millions of pounds or a huge effects crew. We used one of the best photoshop wizards, Olly Howe, who helped bring some of the ideas we had to life.

Last but not least, when it came to the voiceover narration, we knew we wanted someone with gravitas and an amazing voice to represent ‘Nature’. Joss Ackland CBE seemed like the perfect choice. (As an actor) I had taken a couple of masterclasses with him so we knew he was an approachable man. It was a lot of fun and an honour watching someone with 7 decades of experience in theatre and film (195 imdb credits!). 

The film has run the festival circuit, winning a few awards along the way and even garnering interest from two Hollywood studios after screening at The Cannes Film Festival. We’re now in development for a feature length version and can hopefully spread the word about protecting our precious oceans through the medium of film.

If you’d like to see the full-length short-film, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and Phillip will provide a private link. In the meantime, watch the trailer embedded under the film’s poster.

Phillip Whiteman

Hansa Studios: By The Wall 1976-90

Blueberry Editor Paul Bernays cut Hansa Studios: By The Wall 1976-90, a feature length documentary about Berlin’s legendary Hansa Studios, where David Bowie and Iggy Pop were based in the late 70s, recording ‘Lust For Life’ and ‘Heroes’ among other classics.

Produced by Christie HQ, it airs on Sky Arts on January 10th at 9pm and it’s available on Sky Go afterwards. Paul shared with us a bit about his experience working on the project…

A vast old dancehall space until German Reunification, Hansa was in a desolate no man’s land by the Wall dividing East and West, a unique setting for many wild adventures and defining creative moments. The film also covers the illustrious succession of acts that followed in Bowie’s footsteps – among them Nick Cave, Wire, Depeche Mode, REM and U2, who conjured the mercurial song One out of the studio’s magic air.

Hats off to director Mike Christie for such an elegant shooting style and superb big name interviews. Not only was it brilliant to work on a film about one of Bowie’s most fantastic periods of transition, it was enriching to work with such a talented director and jump into the creative channel alongside him, as well as with later addition co-editor Dan Setford, firing sequences back and forth.

We had great archive, chilling Cold War era reels plus unique Super 8 and camcorder footage gifted by some of the bands themselves. With filming still running during the edit, it was sometimes fast and my ‘decisions made per minute’ rate was pretty high, as was the temperature in our sweltering Shoreditch suite – but such a great project to collaborate on.”

Read more about Hansa Studios.

Read more about Blueberry Editor Paul Bernays.

2017 Highlights

Our team has been evolving… Liam moved back to his home town of Toronto and continues to work with us remotely. Maureen, Makeda and Alice are looking after Short Form Editors and Designers. Following maternity leave we’ve also welcomed back Carly, our Creative Advisor, Kirsty to Long Form and Cici to Accounts. We’re a full house again!

As well as returning to Sheffield Doc Fest in 2017 we also saw some great films at Sundance London and the BFI London Film Festival. We had an amazing time listening to filmmakers talk about their craft during the inspiring and insightful Q&As, networking with our piers and making new connections.

After his talks at Sheffield, we saw legendary film editor Walter Murch again at the Curzon Soho’s screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation”, followed by a Q&A with the Master himself. This was a really enjoyable treat to share with some of our editors… To quote Blueberry Editor Dragomir Bajalica: “Great to learn how Walter edited and replaced 15 pages of scenes from the script that were never shot by editing ideas, making this classic one of the best films ever.”

Inspired after attending Sheffield Doc Fest we hosted film and documentary evenings throughout the summer, inviting our talent to  join us at Sundance London, BFI and random films about town. We enjoyed some truly inspiring moments; catching up with each other, watching great films, documentaries and insightful Director Q&As and often rounding off with drinks, dinner and some lively debate. Our favourite films of the summer included DetroitI Am Not A WitchLoving Vincentand documentaries IcarusCity Of GhostsChasing CoralDispossession, Dina, Whitney Can I Be Me, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power. We highly recommend checking these out! 

Our Long Form Editors worked on many popular TV programmes and one off documentaries for both terrestrial and SVoD. Our Bookings Team’s highlights include Channel 4’s Mutiny, BBC2’s Saturday Night Fever: The Ultimate Disco Movie, E4’s Tattoo Fixers on Holiday, Apple Music’s On the Record: Sam Smith, The Thrill of it All.

We’re lucky to work with some people who are highly skilled across multiple disciplines, eg Editing, Motion Design and Directing. This is great for Short Form work – for example, the multitalented Phillip Whiteman directed, shot and edited the Promo for ASOS’ new chic collection of clothing and accessories featuring popular Japanese cartoon character Hello Kitty.

Blueberry Editor Ed Kinnear worked on Our Family, CBeebies’s documentary series following eight young children and their families as they go about their everyday business such as visiting grandparents, baking and going to the farm. Produced by Sixth Sense Media, the show won a BAFTA Children’s Award for Best Pre-School Live Action programme in November.

Another major highlight this year was Blueberry Colourist Leo Hallal grading An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power, the follow up to Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, featuring Al Gore. The film’s UK Premiere opened Film4’s Summer Screen series to a large audience at Somerset House, introduced by the former US Vice President in person. Maureen had the pleasure of attending the event alongside Leo! And we have news that the film has been nominated for a BAFTA for Best documentary in 2018!

Blueberry Motion Designer/Creative Director Ibrahim Ahmed and his brother Fahd have created Journey to the Blue City, the first photo book to document the culture of calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) among the youth of Morocco. Documenting the journey, raising funds for the project and finally printing the book has been a 3 year process. 100% of sales profits will support Je Suis Calisthenics, a non-profit cause that empowers the next generation by creating employment for the youth featured in the book.“Having worked with Ibrahim for over 10 years, I’m delighted to see his photographic work evolve in such a compelling way and that it gives back to the community from which it originated.” – Irantzu

For the second year running Irantzu hosted one-to-one career sessions as well as group workshops for the Grierson Trust’s Doc Lab Trainees: “It’s been rewarding to demystify some of the challenges people encounter during the early stages of their careers and have empowering conversations for their next steps. At Sheffield DocFest we saw Ryan from the 2016 alumni group, pitch and have his documentary idea commissioned by BBC North. I look forward to seeing more of the trainees’ journeys unfold and I’m delighted to have been asked to take part again in 2018. This will be Blueberry’s third consecutive year supporting the Grierson Trust’s programme for up and coming documentary makers.” – Irantzu Lauhingfan