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!
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