Frame of Reference with Editor Sebastian Lloyd

This is a first in a series of interviews where I chat a little with editors about well editing of-course. First up is Sebastian Lloyd.

Sebastian is a freelance editor who resides in London who is also a self-shooting director. “I love what I do, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of my life. When I’m not working, I’m mostly all about bikes and cooking. Sometimes I get to combine some of these things.” I got a chance to chit-chat with Sebastian about all things Editing.

What got you interested in editing?
Working in a camera shop long ago, I bought myself a used miniDV camera. A JVC I think. And a copy of Pinnacle. It didn’t work on my PC. Both lay unused for a couple of years.

How did you get started in editing?
I did an electrical and broadcast engineering degree. One of the modules, and god alone knows why, way to make a short film and learn a little about an NLE. I still had that JVC, and I had a better PC by now. It ran a hookie copy of Premiere Pro 1.0 like a dream, a stuttery, badly compressed SD dream. And I loved it. Realized that this was what I wanted to do. Struggled through the final year of my degree, started filming at friends’ club nights, began making a reel. It was mainly rubbish. Occasional moments of brilliance. Check this one, made in 2003 I think.. second thing I ever cut, as far as I remember.

What is your preferred NLE(s) of choice? Why?
I’m still working in FCP 7. I can’t let go, we’ve been through so much together. But I must. I’ll be working on Media composer/Symphony before too long. And back to Premiere again! It comes full circle.

Give us a run through of your editing process
Look at paper edit, chat to director, organize rushes, look at paper edit, make coffee, label bins into pretty colours, check the news, decide on new bin colour scheme, look at twitter, rename bins, go for lunch, check emails, make sure bins are as colourful as possible, make tea, look at paper edit, dunk biscuit in tea, work really fast for two hours, check bins for colour optimisation.

What tips were you given that was really helpful?
Someone pointing out the skin tone line on the scope. That was a pretty useful one. I bet that was from a Walt Biscardi training video. Good old Walt.

How organized are you?
Coloured bins, Twain. Look at my coloured bins.

Can you work without a script, finding the story and building it on your own?
Of course. So much stuff comes in where you just have a splurge of footage and you have to make something interesting of it. Live events for one. A lot of corporate stuff seems to be like that too.

What is your favorite film? Favorite Tv show?
Favorite film is SO difficult to answer. Really depends on what mood I’m in. I can safely say that the first 20 minutes of Up is pretty much the most perfect bit of filmmaking I’ve ever seen. Can I have a few choices? Bladerunner, Apocalypse Now (a flawed masterpiece if ever there was), Million Dollar Baby, No Country For Old Men….. ask me tomorrow and I’ll give you an entirely different selection probably.
TV show? Easy. The Wire. Astonishingly good. Everything about it is staggering.

What style of editing have you done? (Narrative/Documentary/News/Corporate/Wedding/Etc)
A lot! Started out doing music stuff – concerts, live performances, small promo videos. Broadcast stuff for MTV (pretty much a rite of passage for the London editor I think!) Started doing a lot of corporate work after that, then got into fashion work, cooking, sports, more music, more corporate. I’m nothing if not versatile…

If you could meet any editor, who and why?
I bet everyone answers Walter Murch I’d love to meet him of course, but I’ll say Roderick Jaynes aka the Coen Brothers. I love their films; so interesting, and the pacing is always just so wonderful. Helps that they work with one of the best cinematographers in the business I think, but they hold shots so well. I like a film that dares to breathe.
I think I’d like to meet Michael Bay’s editor too. Maybe not to actually talk to. Maybe just to lock up in a dark cellar.

What advice can you offer to get through complex edits?
Buy a nice big bottle of Scotch. Planning is for losers.
(preparation, planning and organization. Oh, and post-it notes. Stick them EVERYWHERE. especially on the Scotch)

Which plug-in(s) do you find most useful? Why?
I used to run Magic Bullet Looks but that was just a gateway drug to proper colour grading tools.

How does the director-editor relationship work for you?
Remove your ego. That’s no use at all. Don’t be afraid to do something you don’t feel it right; sometimes it will work better. If you feel strongly about an edit, explain why. Be prepared to lay out several cuts – theirs, yours, combinations. Work off each other. Making films and video is collaborative; in the edit as much as anywhere else.

How do you deal with problem clients/directors?
Please see answer to “complex edits” above.

What’s your overall philosophy about editing?
Short answer: Make it nice. Longer answer: Cut the best you can with the material available. The reality is that more often than not, we’re not working with rushes from Martin Scorsese. An induction video for a big corporate is never going to be an earth shattering film. Be happy to do the best you can, and walk home with the paycheck that allows you to take on more interesting projects for less money.

Name one thing that you would tell an aspiring editor
It’s a mug’s game; are you sure you really want to work all day in a dark room for not enough money? 😉

For more info on Sebastian you can find him on twitter or his blog.

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