Name – Anton Short
Age – 35
City – London/UK
Childhood Dream – to play cricket for England
What is your current occupation?
Video Editor for television and film. I’ve made documentaries for, amongst others, the BBC and Discovery and my latest feature film, One Night In Istanbul is out next month.
What was the path to your current job? What is your educational background/history?
I went to college wanting to be a psychologist but I found the subject to be much more science based than I had expected. I much preferred my other course – Media Studies. When I was given a walk on part in a production of Cabaret, and decided (rather pompously) I could direct it much better than the drama teacher, I knew I wanted to be a director.
So I went to University in York to do film and theatre. There, I discovered the power of editing – that you can shape or even change the story as you wish in the edit. Work experience in America gave me my first chance to edit using computers and by the end of my degree I was really enjoying the whole editing process.
But my plan was still to be a director, so after Uni I started getting a film together which was to be my showreel. While I was doing this a friend called to say she’d been offered an editor’s assistant job in Leeds but had turned it down – would I like it? I went for an interview and though getting lost on the way and turning up an hour late, they actually liked me and the student films I’d brought to show them.
They offered me the job and said I could edit the film I was directing in their facilities. It sounded to good to be true and in a way it was – I was only allowed to edit at the end of the day which meant I spent practically my whole life at work.
The film itself was not very good, but editing it at work meant I learned all the kit and was helped immensely by the two editors I worked for. Soon I was editing stuff for the company and when the editors left I was made staff editor. Although I wasn’t given a pay rise!
So I had two edit suites and a machine room to play with all day and I learned to work professionally making corporate videos and cutting my own films which I was still directing.
Soon I was informed the company was going bust, but luckily I’d also spent my time making contacts. I got my first freelance job working on a gardening show. Low pay and long hours – but I now had my first Television Credit.
I worked and worked moving around companies and also getting involved editing short films for the UK Film Council. I was finding I was enjoying editing a lot more so I did less and less directing and concentrated on my career in the cutting room.
In 2005 I got my first job in London and a year later moved down there. I got an agent who helped me get prime time shows and things grew from there.
What are the essential skills required for your job?
The job is a technical one, so you need to know various editing programs, be able to communicate with other departments like graphics and sound and be able to problem solve if things break down. But this is really only the mechanics of the job
The art of editing is a fascinating one that requires you to tell a story with pictures, have an ability to read performance – as it’s you who chooses which performance of the actor will be shown – and have a sense of each film’s rhythm. Editing is an invisible art – if you’re looking at the editing you’re not watching the story!
You also have to be able to work alone or very closely with the director or producer (often for weeks on end in a small room), be able to deliver to deadlines and have the ability to handle constant criticism (often from several different people) and use it productively to make the next cut better.
What do you like about your job?
The main thing I like is when an edit comes together – when you watch it back and something you have done delivers an emotional punch. I also like the range of work, the ability to pick and choose projects (to a degree) and the time off I can have being a freelancer.
Describe a typical day in the office (if there is such thing as a typical day, or if you work in an office!)
It varies from project to project – sometimes they are long days trying to fix problems, sometimes it’s simple work that can be done quickly. It all depends on the film!
Was there one moment in your career that somehow felt decisive?
I’m not sure there has been a decisive moment as I fell into editing bit by bit rather than there being a eureka moment. But I guess when it comes to the philosophy of how I see work the decisive moment was last year when I was on holiday.
I was feeling a bit low, as work had been very tiring and not as rewarding as usual. I’d been nominated for a BAFTA and had several good films under my belt but I felt my career had slowed. Every job I did just wasn’t the breakthrough I needed – although I couldn’t exactly tell you what that breakthrough would be.
I’d just proposed to my girlfriend (who’d said yes!) and I thought ‘I’m going to change the way I look at work’. Instead of thinking about each job in terms of what it will do for my career, I’ll see each job as the chance to make money doing what I love – and supporting what will be my family.
In a sense that is what I was doing anyway but it’s more about a mental shift. My priorities have changed to focus to worrying about what I can control – not the things I can’t..
That has been my philosophy for the last year – maybe ask me in 5 years time how it’s going and I’ll have a better idea!
Who influenced your career path?
The first editors I worked for as assistant were massive influences on me. I looked up to them and wanted to be like them
And there have been a bunch of producers and directors who’ve influenced me. They’ve shown me knew ways to think about story telling, encouraged me and helped me along the way – so to all of them I’m very grateful.
What is there left for you to learn (again, with regards to your career/job)?
So much! One of the things about being a freelancer is the feeling that your making things up as you go along. Each new film brings a new challenge and with so many knew cameras and programs to learn about I’ll always have something new to discover.
I have also started directing again – having cut so many people’s films I’ve learned a lot about what not to do – and yet every time I direct I still make loads of mistakes! It’s a much different environment being on set than in an edit suite and so I’ve got plenty to learn there too
Do you have any further ambitions? What are they?
I want to make money doing what I love – preferably on projects I care about. And to edit an indie film that crosses over and makes it big, leading to me editing several other award winning movies as well as the odd blockbuster. But mainly, the making money doing what I love bit…
Is there a piece of advice you could give someone who wants to follow your career path?
I’d say if you want to be an editor then get yourself some cheap or free edit software, borrow a camera and cut a film. See if you like it – and if you do then try and get some work experience and see where it takes you.
How does the ideal job world look like?
A job when I can go home and be proud of what I’ve done. That’s less about a job world though, more about what I let happen in my brain world!
Thank you, Anton!