By Simon Callow-Wright
Take us through the process involved in editing 'LOTS'?
My co-editor Rachel Grierson-Johns and I would start by assembling together scenes for a character. Once everything was assembled, we’d compile all these scenes together into a character string-up, which was usually around 30 minutes long. We’d take three of these string-ups, fold them together, and have essentially what would become a rough cut of an episode. One of us would continue to work on this episode, while the other moved on to a new character.
Cian and Karina, (our director and EP) were very instrumental throughout this process, and especially when it came to which characters they felt would work in each episode. Whereas Rachel and I knew well the material we were editing, Cian and Karina had a broader picture of all the characters involved as they where working closely with our series producer, Jenni, who was casting throughout the entire production.
This was our third series working together, so as a team we knew the way we all liked to go about things, and we had developed a great short-hand. The big difference for Rachel and I this time around though, mostly in part due to the nature of the shooting schedule, was that we often found ourselves sharing and working on more of the character string-ups together. For example, I initially started editing Maddi, but then moved on to Michael’s speed dating when it came in, so Rachel took over Maddi’s scenes and then also went on to complete the episode that had Maddi in it.
What were the particular challenges you faced with the series?
Finding the right tone and balance between empathy and humour was by far the biggest challenge. That duty of care was always at the back our minds. We never wanted our audience to be laughing at our participants, only with them. One way of doing this was to establish early on in a character’s story that they themselves were comfortable with being portrayed in a humorous light. With Michael you can tell that he thoroughly enjoys entertaining, and in an early scene we see him enjoy reducing his family to tears of laughter at the dinner table. His mother also helps us out when she rounds off this scene by saying, “Everyone needs a Michael!” Also interestingly enough, Michael has an insuppressible love of 'SpongeBob SquarePants', and his dream job is to one day work as a voiceover actor.
There’s a very comedic tone to 'LOTS'. What role did the editing play in that?
Well. the characters, of course, brought with them their own humour. They were just being themselves. We were very conscious though, as I’ve mentioned, that we wanted our audience to be laughing along with them rather than at their expense. This meant that the only really constructed moments of humour were always in neutral places. We’d play with the establishing moments of a scene, by for example, L-cutting some interesting audio into the transition, or by perhaps creating a stare-off between an inanimate object and animal... We would also enhance moments quite often by cueing in one of the many available pet shot reactions we had at our disposal. Cian often spent a lot of time and effort getting great performances out of the participants' pets for us. Rachel and I had several nicknames for him such as the pet whisper, or Cian Attenborough.
Describe a normal day on 'LOTS'.
I’d often start my day by taking my kids to swimming training or to before school care, followed by a quick workout at the gym. Rachel was usually on a similar schedule, often running between daycare, work, and, well, running... If Cian was out shooting, he’d often call us when he could with a brief or to chat about a cut we’d sent him. Sometimes after a shoot he’d come bounding down the corridor into our edit suites with exciting news as he knew Rachel and I were always eager to hear how the dates had gone! On the days he wasn’t shooting we’d all try and grab lunch together, and discuss all the exciting things that were happening ahead of what we were editing. In fact, there was always a lot of discussion to be had on the series as we collaborated very closely. Other directors at Northern would often walk past both us talking in the corridor and ask why we’re not working, and we’d answer, “Sorry, but we are!”
'Love on the Spectrum' is available to watch on ABC iview.
(February 2020 eNews)