Q: Mick, you’re originally from Newfoundland. How did you end up in Toronto?
A: I came to study photography at Ryerson. At that time the first year was a foundation in film studies, where we produced both still and motion film projects. I really enjoyed the temporal nature of moving pictures. We used to say that if a picture is worth a 1000 words, we wanted to speak at a 1000 words per second. When I graduated I tried to get a job back in Newfoundland, but to no avail.
I worked at Ryerson and Best Labs, but I got into the commercial production world, because my girlfriend at the time (now my wife, Cathy) left her job as a projectionist at Bomack/Batton/Rabco, where Mary Beth Odell hired me as Cathy’s replacement.
I loved the fact that I could actually use 35mm motion picture film, and after being on set for several shoots, I loved the relative solitude of the editing room.
Q: You judged the Television/Cinema/Online Film Technique category at the 2010 London International Awards. How did that come about?
A: I had judged the editing awards for the Clios for 3 or 4 years, through a contact I had with Wayne Youkhana , who was the co-ordinator for juries and judging of the Clio’s at the time. He recently took over that responsibility for the LIA awards, and contacted me with the request to be a judge.
Q: Rocky Morton was category chair, but you also judged alongside other luminaries such as Kirk Baxter of Rock, Paper, Scissors, John Smith of The Whitehouse (London) and director Gerard de Thame. Was having that much star-power under one roof a little mind-blowing?
A: While I was aware of the other judges, the actual judging was a solitary online process – it’s great actually. You have access to all the entries for about a two-week period, so you can watch and re-watch as much as you want or need, so you really get to appreciate the subtleties of the work. In a way it was much like the selection process when editing. The only real feedback you receive is when you see the award winners; then you see if a consensus was reached, or at the very least if anyone agreed with your selections.
Q: Judging editing at award shows is always difficult because it’s hard to tell how much a spot changed from its original script, and how much of that change was influenced by the editor. How did you approach it?
A: You can really only judge what is presented or entered. There is quite a range of work entered, and you have to look at the editing specifically. Of course, the quality of the idea and execution can easily influence the overall impression of the piece, but you try to objectively view the work of the editor.
Q: As an editor, what do you look for as an editorial judge?
A: Good editing can come in many forms or styles; abrupt, aggressive, clunky, or smooth, fluid, invisible … but … it always enhances the story or communication.
To me it’s all about the bridges between the left out bits, how the story is served by what is shown (and what is not) – the choices made that always lead, but never lose the viewer.
Q: Has new technology made it harder to judge editing? Can editors really hide behind it?
A: I think the new technology has the ability to enhance the editing process and the results of it. As Walter Murch – legendary American film editor and sound designer – spoke of the editor now has the ability to edit “within the frame” – retiming performances and recomposing the frame. In that way the editor can become a sort of co-director. And it’s happening all the time.
Conversely the new technologies are also democratizing the editing process, letting everyone and anyone be an editor, so there is also a redefining of what editing is.
So on the one hand, you have these amazing “crafting” tools, and on the other you have novices wielding hammers. As a result, the language is definitely evolving … it’s all good.
Q: At the London International Awards, which you judged last year, were there spots that stood out for you?
A: I was glad to see that there had been a consensus amongst the judges because for the most part the work that stood out for me where actually the awarded spots.
Guinness “Bring It To Life”
The opposing styles of the Guinness “Bring It To Life” and Virgin Mobile’s “Fantastic Journey” speaks to the multi-faceted nature of good editing.
The 3 shot sequence of the “winter trees” being pulled up in Guinness just jumped for me. The “hand” edit at the beginning of the Virgin spot and the sit down transition from the movie the game play, were used so abruptly and effectively
I was a little surprised that no gold was awarded in the Category, I thought either Guinness or Virgin, could have qualified.
Virgin Mobile “Fantastic Journey”
Q: Kirk Baxter of Rock, Paper, Scissors was quoted as saying he would have given 10 out of 10 to the 3 minute Nike “World Cup” spot, but it wasn’t entered. Would it have been one of your top spots?
A: For sure, it was a stunning epic. I would have loved dissecting it.
Q: Lets talk about your own awards for a moment. Which ones have you won that have really stood out for you?
A: I was fortunate enough to work on some good creative very early in my career, so one of my very first real ads won a Clio, It was called “The Screw Driver” for Canadian Tire, and I was blown away. My first Cannes Lion was a real treat, it was a bronze for a Speedy Muffler spot and the late, great, Don McLean of Partners Film Company paid for the hardware (trophy).
The original Black Label ads that I did, won a number of awards, but they were special to me because they were like little “experimental “ films. They brought me back some cred from my “independent” filmmaker friends. (I had embraced experimental filmmaking at Ryerson, and actually sold some copies of my 4th year film.)
As editors, we can work on ads that win awards with or with a significant contribution on our part. That’s why I personally value the Craft awards I’ve received, which tend to acknowledge one’s contribution.
To see Mick’s full reel Click Here
Viagra “Golf” Edited by Mick Griffin