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This week we 'Sit Down With' Editor Ben Campbell of Cut + Run

26 September 2017

We love to hear from people in the industry and even better to hear from those that have carved an enviable niche for themselves within it. Ben Campbell is one such guy. Working at Cut and Run, Ben has long been admired as a talented and inspiring Editor. So, we're delighted that he took some time out from his busy schedule to chat with the Soho Soho team.

1.What inspired you to be an editor?
Movies and serendipity. My brothers and I were obsessed with movies when we were kids. We spent hours in the video shop looking for stuff like Weird Science, Condor Man, American Werewolf in London and The Fog. Then a friend of mine's dad was the film editor Derek Williams and I went to work with him as a runner. That was the last job interview I had! What kept me there was everything about the job. It has huge scope. It's part business, part art and it meant I could watch videos all day!

Ben's reelBen's reel

2. What does your job entail?
As editor, it's my job to run the offline edit and oversee post production, sound and music until it plays out. In the UK, I attend the shoot about half the time so I'm there to get the edit started, help with any problem solving and support the director where I can. When I'm back in the suite, I work to produce a solid first cut and get to know all the possibilities the footage and sound offer. After two days, I should know the footage better than anyone so I can facilitate all possible ideas the director, agency and client may have for the entire post production process.

I’m also on the board, so as a partner I am involved in the general ins and outs of the business, and help to create good creative and professional vibes, for everyone who works with us and for us.

3.What skills do you need to be a good editor?
To begin with it helps if you're technically minded. Having a good musical sense, especially rhythmically really helps. It's important to understand film language well and to be able to judge a performance from an actor or a thing. You need to be able to help people communicate when there could be conflict and ask the questions that help people get to where they need to be creatively. Part of our job is to act as a conduit between the director's vision, client and agency, and the viewing public. But most importantly you must have a big broad life experience and a rebellious spirit. These are the things I look for when we take on new talent and what gives you longevity.

4.What’s your favourite part of your job?
I'm not a huge fan of selecting hours of repeated takes from multiple cameras alone in a soulless hotel, but that's probably as bad as it gets. I love it when a juicy project comes in and I start to assess it with the director. When the selection process is done it's exciting to lay the first cut down. Maybe the best bit for me is when I begin to drop in music and a sound bed, because this usually means I've got an edit I'm happy with. Then it's nip and tuck, frames, slotting in alternative takes, vari-speeding, experimenting, sleep. Then the next morning, fine tune with a fresh perspective. A great reaction to the cut is good but I also really enjoy problem solving. Whether that's navigating through politics or a practical edit issue, like a complex 4D puzzle. Good for the obsessives among us.

5. If there were one thing you could change about your job what would it be?
I'd like to find a way of being outside a bit more but I'm on set a lot so we're negating this problem. Our assistants are so good that the leg work is done by the time I get to sit and put my head in the footage, which saves time and means I'm not in the room quite as much as I used to be.

6. Has your style been influenced by other editor’s work?
No one in particular, but Derek and Christophe Williams were my first professional contacts. Christophe was fast and focused, and Derek was measured and pragmatic, and as an engineer, he had a great calm way of approaching problems which I try to emulate now. No problem can't be overcome with some mental application. I was a huge fan of film editor turned Director David Lean too and more recently, editors like Lesley Jones who cut 20th Century Women. Other editors that spring to mind are Art Jones - Hard Candy, Margaret Sixel - Mad Max, Paul Watts - Under the Skin, Mark Sanger - Gravity, and most recently, Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos - Baby Driver.

7. What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an editor?
If I had been a superior tennis player, I would have gone pro. If I was more academic, I might have been a barrister. If I was a slightly better drummer or pianist I might have been a music producer. If I was a better painter I might have tried fine art. If I had bigger balls I might have tried writing or comedy. I got a wee bit of each which suits me fine, and suits the vocation.

  1. What projects are you most proud of?
    The ones on my reel, but there are a few that never make it which I put on bespoke reels from time to time. It's a shame when you work with a great gang on a well crafted job but it doesn't get the media coverage, gets pulled or doesn't capture the public imagination for some reason. You still have great pride in it but about 1378 people see it. Some of the short biographical films for Scottish Widows were really nice. Working on the French Connection campaign from the start with Richard Flintham and Leila & Damien de Blinkk was probably the most detailed and complete job I've done with a really broad range of styles.

9. What are your latest projects?
An emotional, dialogue heavy piece, Macmillan for Jim Gilchrist and VCCP. A musical comedy extravaganza, Finish for Ian Pons-Jewell and W+K. Disaster melodrama for Hornbach with Andreas Nilsson and Heimatt. And most recently, pre-vis post heavy muscle Jaguar for Gary Shore and Spark 44. I'm off to New York next month for a job with Meistro Nilsson which will be fun.

10. Lastly after a long day of editing what do you like to spend your spare time getting up to?
I'm buying paintings and making stuff at the moment. I cleared out my Mum's studio in Wales so I am back there when I can; sawing, painting and spraying. Or I'm working on my ping pong technique and drinking a cold pilsner.