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You don't get many editors more respected, more awarded and more prolific than Final Cut legend Joe Guest.

With more than 30 years in the business (19 at FC) and work for brands like John Lewis, Lurpak, Nike, Audi, Cadbury and Ikea garnering praise and accolades year-on-year, Guest is well-placed to quiz, and be quizzed by, an up-and-coming star.

Said up-and-comer is Lucy Berry, an editor who, in her comparatively short time at Final Cut, has already been recognised for her branded and pop promo work, with her edit on Kano's Trouble, in particular, marking her out as a one to watch. 

Below they discuss jobs they've enjoyed and notes they avoid, alongside the tunes that would get them up on stage.



Lucy Berry: Hey Joe, greetings from South East London! How's Lockdown 136,585,987 treating you so far? So here we are in 2021 and what a pleasure it is to kick off the year chatting to you.

If you could go back in time - what worldly advice would you give your younger self?

Joe Guest: Ah, the benefits of time travel and pre zombie virus. I think the advice I would give to my younger self is 

  1. Try to be nice to everyone... you never know when they'll come back as an ECD or an EP.
  2. Don't get quite so angry when you hear the words "can we just try… ?"
  3. There will always be more craft services and you don't need to eat it all now.
  4. Wear a mask

So Lucy, what projects have you really enjoyed working on and with whom?

Kano – Trouble

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LB: I'd say the highlight so far has to be Kano's Trouble from 2019 directed by Aneil Karia, who has a long and successful working relationship with the brilliant Amanda James. They are killing it as a team, and I have huge respect for them both and all that they do. But on this occasion, she was unavailable and being the hungry assistant I was, she saw it as an opportunity to mentor, which is naturally part of her ethos. So, of course, I gobbled it up. I took the reins whilst she supported from the back row and had my back every step of the way. 

It was an honour to work with Kano and Aneil too, to share their storytelling sensibilities through the lens of the personal and private, starting with this one family, the everyday banality, and those delicious touches of documentary-style realism. I saw the rushes, and you know when you get goosebumps... and well up, and, wow. 

Sometimes stories just end in the middle, as does life. 

It was enjoyable yes, but also hugely challenging which of course makes it all the more rewarding when you receive, well… awards and recognition. And I loved how intelligently conceived it was - standing on the tightrope of emotional dexterity without being overly sentimental or preachy. So much integrity, realness, chaos and raw energy, I love how it ends too - is so poignant - panning to the mourning sister, as the next track in Kano’s album kicks in, reminding us sometimes there is no comfy closure, no resolution. Sometimes stories just end in the middle, as does life. 

Back to you, Joe. Tell me more about your early days. Who, or what influenced you? Did you have any mentors or mentees? And how did you set about establishing yourself - is it something that came naturally to you?

Above: Guest and Berry, as interpreted by illustrator Emily Brooks.


Joe Guest: I started out assisting two online editors at a small company in D'arblay street. Avid did not exist in those dark days and we edited on tape. A few years in and the company got an Avid. I took it upon myself to learn it as I loved computer games and it looked fun. 

Music was always my thing - I used to Dj a bit so everything I did had some form of musicality to it. I dived into music videos and stayed in that world honing my craft and chain-smoking for 10 years before I even considered doing a commercial. 

I took it upon myself to learn [Avid] as I loved computer games and it looked fun. 

I had met Rick [Russell] during those early days as he would occasionally dry hire the Avid room and when he offered me a chair at the big table I bit his arm off. 

So what made you want to become an editor and how do you feel being on the roster at Final Cut?

LB: Yes, I hear the reconstructive surgeon worked wonders on Rick’s arm. Thank heavens. And ha, yeah, I recall watching and re-watching that awesome BBC 1Xtra Street Music spot you did back in the day before I knew who you were. Musicality at it’s finest.

I too have always loved music videos and spent my formative years watching the Chart Show and eating cereal in my pyjamas every Saturday morning. But it took me a while to realise I wanted to be an editor. I thought photography was my thing but I grew tired of trying to create a few perfect frames. Let’s just say it didn’t quite scratch my itch. When I finally got to play with a timeline, it felt like I could breathe in a way I hadn’t done for years. The world unfolded and I haven’t blinked since.

Radio 1xtra – Street Music

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Being on the roster feels kind of great but also not so different from making tea as a runner when you zoom in on the granular level. I hear myself and I know that sounds like trite. But I guess it’s hard to describe the point at which you become an ‘editor’ because it doesn’t happen as the result of a single experience. I feel like it’s an accumulation of years and years of late nights and early rises, warping and uncoiling and solidifying on repeat, both inside and outside of the editing suite. I daren’t count up how many sacrifices I’ve made along the way, but well, it’s never easy prioritising your career. Especially if like me, you’ve yet to find the ideal work/life balance, being challenged every day to keep your mental health in check (...don’t even get me started on the contradictions of working from home). I very much doubt my experience is unique in this way. Neither do I take it for granted.

It’s hard to describe the point at which you become an ‘editor’ because it doesn’t happen as the result of a single experience.

But when you put the work in, and show up for yourself it’s great to know it’s received with open arms at a place like Final Cut. It’s evidence of courage, adaptability and progression from the top. We have fantastic support staff and the quality of work that comes through the doors continues to amaze me. I feel very fortunate to be a part of the team and to learn first-hand from the kings and queens. 

Which reminds me of that pub. I miss that pub, Joe. What I wouldn’t give for a pint with you guys right now.

So come on, spill all. What's the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you at Final Cut?

John Lewis – The Long Wait

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JG: I wonder what videos of mine you may have seen on the chart show in the 90s... David Webb and I probably shared most of what was played in those days. 

What's the maddest thing? Hmmmm. So many NDAs. 

The first time we presented John Lewis The Long Wait I turned round to a room full of men in suits crying and I knew then we were onto a winner. I do remember a Spice Girl asking me to keep an eye on her son while she had a meeting in a room next door. We played with his cars and he filled his nappy. 

I remember a Spice Girl asking me to keep an eye on her son while she had a meeting in a room next door. We played with his cars and he filled his nappy. 

Every job is a new adventure and I'm glad that after nearly 30 years in the chair I still love every mad minute of it. I still get the feeling when I see amazing rushes and I hope that never goes.

What would be the ultimate dream job?

LB: Hmm… Easy! Whatever I have to do to go see Wes Anderson's house. What was that like!? 

Good question though. I’ve been watching a lot of great stuff recently so it’s got me thinking about long-form. Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You was phenomenal for so many reasons. This Is Us never fails to make me weep in that weird but cleansing way. Transparent was fantastic apart from the whole Jeffrey Tambor thing, urgh (damn it George Senior). 

I’ve recently discovered the creative force of Rosanne Tan known for Homecoming and Mr Robot who is my new female editor crush. So looking towards the future, I’d love to sink my teeth into something juicy away from the realms of product demos and packshots. I’m looking forward to the third series of Sex Education. I can only aspire to cutting something as witty, well-represented, and warm-hearted as that. And have you watched Pixar’s Soul yet? I haven’t stopped thinking about it!

But OK, same question to you! What's your dream job?  And I’m curious to know if you have any interest in dipping your kicks in long-form?

Above: Netflix's Sex Education, Berry's dream gig.


JG: Mr Anderson’s house was fully cray cray and quite how you would imagine it to be. We wore slippers and the cook made us a curry which we shared in the kitchen of the Kent mansion. Since the arrival of Yo! MTV Raps in 1987 all I wanted to do was work in hip hop videos. I didn't know what or how but that was my dream. I’ve edited an absolute ton of 'urban' music videos in my time including Kano's first videos but last year I got the chance to work with Hype Williams for hip hop supergroup Griselda. It was a case of being at the right place at the right time. It was everything I wanted it to be. I still love editing music videos. 

Since the arrival of Yo! MTV Raps in 1987 all I wanted to do was work in hip hop videos.

Long-form is a strange animal. I have tried to edit a feature but Film4 said I didn't have any feature experience. Whatever's. Their loss. Maybe one day. 

You recently won Gold for editing - if you could have chosen what would be your walk-on theme at an awards ceremony? 

LB: I can’t imagine that I would walk on to stage without tripping over my own feet, and neither would I particularly enjoy the attention. But in that fun imaginary world, I’d no doubt dutch courage the shit out of the night and get my sassy ass on the stage to MIA’s Bad Girls

What does winning awards feel like to you, Joe? Are you blasé about them now!? And what would your theme tune be?

JG: I actually don't like the attention. That's why I'm an editor. This period of lockdown has been great for me as I've always been socially distant. Saying that any massive 90s hip hop tune will do and as you say a bit of dutch courage and sassy asses and I’ll be up on that stage (just don’t ever expect a speech). I don’t think I’ll ever be blasé about awards… I still get nervous, and there is always more room on the shelf.

so...

What’s your most dreaded client feedback?

LB: I can’t imagine you’d be nervous! You definitely hide it well behind all that camo gear.  

Oh well the classic “can you just fuck it up a bit?”, resting somewhere between the vague and nonchalant is one such dreaded note. I’m like, “Haha. Oh, yeah, cool, that’s really helpful. Thaaaank you”. Thumbs up emoji. I mean, the list goes on. But in all seriousness, nothing irritates me more than short-sighted notes, dumbing down the audience or playing into stereotypes. Not only because it’s unimaginative and boring seeing and hearing the same shit day in day out, but because deep down, I feel as storytellers and filmmakers (with privilege, let's face it), we have an obligation to broaden perspectives and challenge stereotypes. 

Nothing irritates me more than short-sighted notes, dumbing down the audience or playing into stereotypes.

Maybe I’m guilty of being idealistic, naïve, or even taking myself too seriously. But I think what we output in the world really matters. We should be evaluating others in the same way we evaluate ourselves, right!? But it's a scientific fact that we don’t. So if we could all just learn to take accountability for our actions, become aware of our hidden biases, then a little nuance, compassion and curiosity go a long way. Maybe then we can steer this ship for the better. Come on humanity!!! Rant over. 

Nike – Nothing Beats a Londoner

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You, Joe, do tap into something very special - you bring joy to many people in the work that you create, and you do it all so effortlessly. I think that’s truly inspirational. What’s your secret!? I can’t wait to see what you have been working on lately. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Nike Londoner. So good! 

What did you find were the biggest challenges of that job, and what was it like to work on?

JG: Talk about a dream job. Late nights on a Peckham high street bin next to a chicken shop is my favourite place to edit. 

I edited as they shot straight off the playback so the directors could check all the transitions before they moved on. Seat of your pants editing. Love it. 

I edited as they shot straight off the playback so the directors could check all the transitions before they moved on. Seat of your pants editing. Love it. 

I can't wait to be back out on the streets in my massive Camo puffer I miss all my shoot friends and, of course, the craft table.

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