On Not Winning An Award

Losing sucks. It’s awful. Anyone who tells you different is lying. It hurts. 

I’m not talking about sports, where there are great stories of teams showing great character, determination and dignity in a hard fought defeat. At the most recent football World Cup, the US soccer team won over a legion of fans with their valiant efforts in going further into the competition than expected and their dedication and hard work as they were knocked out. They showed huge commitment and effort until the last moment and they were widely appreciated and respected for it.

In the film industry we have awards ceremonies and too often winning an award becomes a mark of whether the work you’ve done is of quality. Are you going to hire a filmmaker or an award-winning filmmaker? 

But while not winning can make you feel like a loser, that’s really not how filmmaking works. The audience you make the film for is rarely the same group in charge of handing out awards. But if the film resonates with an audience it can have a huge imact on their lives and in the wider world. 
So don’t feel too glum if you don’t win an award. It’s nice to be recognised, of course, who wouldn’t want that? But it’s far better to change the world. So let’s aim for that instead.
This post was inspired by the fact that we were nominated for a CorpComms Award for best use of video, for our series The New Guy, which we’re incredibly proud of and I think is probably our best work. 

We did not win. 

Whose Edit Is It Anyway

A real conversation from my office;
My colleague Jess, on seeing a rough cut of an episode of our latest series; “That’s really good”

Me: “Sarah (my assistant) cut that one”.

Sarah: “Yeah, but you told me what to do”.

Me: “That doesn’t matter, you still edited it”.
This got me thinking about ownership of an edit. How closely should we tie an edit to the editor?

It seems to me that there are always at least three parties involved in an edit that I work on, often many more. Fundamentally for me it breaks down to three;

Me – I get the footage, a script and some guidance from the director, and then I’m left alone to create something. The first cut therefore is pretty definitively mine, because there aren’t many other people involved. I might show it to Sarah before sending it on to Jim (my director) for a second opinion and fresh pair of eyes, but it’s mine.

The Director – Jim and Rob (as my directors) for some reason think they can tell me how they think it should be different from what I’ve done. What nerve, right? I kid, obviously, and over time I’ve come to learn how they like things to such an extent that my first cuts tend to be pretty close to the intention. But they always have notes and they’re usually right. So I make those changes or we argue over it and I make my case for why we shouldn’t. And so is the second cut is still mine? Less so than the first cut? 

The Client – this is where things get tricky. We’ve all had clients who trust us and appreciate us and give great notes, and I’m sure we’ve all had clients who perhaps don’t trust us quite as much. That’s charitable enough, I think… And sometimes you make changes you really don’t want to make. You use a different piece of music that you aren’t as keen on. You compromise. And you start feeling that the cut isn’t yours at all anymore. There might be layers of approval even within a client company, so you’re the servant of many masters.

So there are a lot of voices that go into a cut. But in the end, they all go through you as the editor. If you disagree with a change, you have to make your case for not changing it. The skill of negotiation is a huge part of the process. If you aren’t convincing enough to keep your version in-tact, was it ever yours to begin with?

My point is that you own it as long as you want to take the responsibility for it. If you’re blindly following direction, and client notes, maybe you don’t own it because someone else cares about it more. You can still own it when taking notes, you can still own it if you co-edit with someone else. 

You may not physically click the button on every in and out point, but that doesn’t mean it’s not yours. Own it!

Restricted Intelligence 3

It’s becoming a yearly tradition; the sharing of the latest Restricted Intelligence trailer…

This summer we completed work on Season 3 of Restricted Intelligence. It’s amazing to see how far it’s come in the now four years I’ve been at Twist and Shout, and the conversations we have about the direction it takes. Being our own client can be tough – we hold ourselves to high standards, but we also have to be mindful that we’re making a series that has to by it’s nature be work-appropriate for companies.

These two trailers were created now that we have three seasons – the first is for season 3 itself, and the second is the Uber-Trailer for all three seasons. Fortunately having cut all three seasons in FCP X, pulling up timelines from the earlier seasons was easy. I don’t love that you can’t consolidate a project with just the used media and handles the way you used to in FCP 7, but on the other hand, it works. And who’s going to argue with that?


The last 18 months have been marked by the re-emergenge of music as a major passion in my wife’s life, as she joined Nottingham-based indie dream-pop band Lorna, as well as continuing to play with the Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra. Our lives have therefore been punctuated with gigs and appearances as the band released their sixth album “London’s Leaving Me” (the first she plays on).

As I’ve gotten to know the band, they’ve asked me on a couple of occasions to utilise some of my skills to help them out with various bits of media, the first of which were some photos of the band’s latest sextet lineup, which we took at Wollaton Hall, better known as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises.

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We then shot a music video together for the third “single” from the album, “In Amber”. We shot in and around the city and it’s our little love-letter to Nottingham. I shot the film on my trusty Canon 60D and edited in Final Cut Pro X, utilising the Cineflare LensWhack plugin. It was really simple to control and the results are pretty good compared to doing it for real as we did on a Twist and Shout job called Lily’s World recently . It rarely needing any rendering, and to my mind it’s vastly preferable to doing it manually, especially as I was one-man-banding the shoot on this occasion. Much more flexible and the vast majority of the audience isn’t going to know the difference. For $49 on FX Factory you can’t go wrong having it available to you.

Lastly here are a few shots that I like from the shows the band played on the week of the album’s release, at the Riverbank Festival Intro Stage and at Rough Trade.

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Late 2014 and Early 2015 Work

To call this blog neglected would be a vast understatement, but there’s a good reason; being too busy to give it the attention it would need… In other works, doing what I really love; Cutting.

Since the last update was at the start of post-production on Restricted Intelligence Season 2, we’ll start there… This is the season 2 trailer, and as I’m writing this Season 3 is already in post as well, so look out for that coming soon as well!

After finishing Season 2 and launching it to great acclaim (it won an award!) we made a web series for Alcatel-Lucent called The New Guy, about a new CIO coming into a big company and trying to drag them into the 21st century. It’s been a phenomenal success, with the trailer over 190,000 views and counting, and the series in total with over 500,000 views across the five episodes and teaser.

Following that series we had a bit of a change of pace. Slowed everything right down. Yes, we did another slow-motion job. Here is the first of the videos, shot on the Sony F7 at 120fps;

If anyone is interested, they were all cut on FCPX. The thing that struck me cutting the slow-mo project in particular was how easy the UI makes it to see what shots you have available. The skimming paradigm makes it so easy to go through your footage and mark out the golden moments from each take (using Favorites or Keywords – I tend to prefer Favorites) and the implementation of a Used Media indicator has made it even easier to look up alternate takes.