Wake The Town
Stuck in Motion
Contemplative Reptile
  • International Edition
  • USA Edition
  • UK Edition
  • Australian Edition
  • Canadian Edition
  • Irish Edition
  • German Edition
  • French Edition
  • Singapore Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Polish edition
  • Indian Edition
  • Middle East edition
  • South African Edition

Finely Sliced: Gary Knight on Understanding the Fundamentals


Cut+Run editor on starting with the music, having fun with the edit and why Gerry Hambling is a godlike editor

Finely Sliced: Gary Knight on Understanding the Fundamentals

The ongoing goal to take projects higher has earned editor/partner Gary Knight numerous accolades & awards, including the Shots Awards shortlist for Editor of The Year.  Some of Gary’s high-profile projects include Christie’s “The Last da Vinci” directed by Nadav Kander, Mastercard’s “Can’t Judge a Book” directed by Jake Nava, Gillette's Olympic spot “Perfect Isn't Pretty” directed by Karim Huu Do, and the Adidas classic “House Party”. Gary likes nothing more than to get into the edit suite and work side by side with his creative teams, producers, and directors and these longstanding creative relationships can be seen in his work throughout the years with agency-partners McGarry Bowen, Townhouse, and The Community. Gary Knight’s collaborations with director Chris Cunningham on Aphex Twins “Come To Daddy,” Bjork’s “All is Full of Love” and Madonna’s “Frozen” thrust him into the pop culture spotlight. He also edited the controversial Robbie Williams “Rock DJ” video which was voted the seventh Most Groundbreaking Video Ever on MTV as well as Feist’s “Mushaboom” and Kings of Leon’s “Four Kicks,” both directed by Patrick Daughters.


LBB> The first cut is the deepest: how do you like to start an editing project?

Gary> First, it depends on what sort of job it is. If it’s a very technical project, there’s a methodical process. But generally, I start by putting on some music - exploring different styles and genres - while searching for the magic moments. I’m always looking for details and things that aren’t necessarily in the script that may elevate the piece. Every job is different so I like to see how we can stretch and play with it. Clients often say, “just have fun with it” and I take that to heart.

LBB> Non-editors often think of editing just in technical terms but it’s integral to the emotion and mood of a film. How did you develop that side of your craft?

Gary> I was brought up in the industry in a rather traditional way, and those technical aspects will always be there. Over many projects and over the years, you develop a sense of what works in service of story. You’re always honing your eye and the craft. When I was starting out on music videos there were no rules and I fell for editing entirely. That creative freedom allowed me to really get invested in the process. With creative freedom comes a love of the job, and from the love of a job comes a desire to understand all of the ways you can reach audiences. It’s really cool to take someone on a journey. 

LBB> How important is an understanding of story and the mechanics of story?

Gary> It’s hugely important. And understanding the fundamentals of story allows you to play with format and bend the rules. Story is rather intuitive - three acts and all of that - but intuition is ultimately what lets you know when and how it is delivering on the idea. Knowing the mechanics allows you to be a maverick or go a little rogue with it.


LBB> Rhythm and a sense of musicality seem to be intrinsic to good editing (even when it’s a film without actual music) – how do you think about the rhythm side of editing, how do you feel out the beats of a scene or a spot? And do you like to cut to music?

Gary> You can use a piece of music to radically transform the feeling in a film or advert. Inspiration comes from everywhere so I do enjoy playing with music to shape the edit. I start with a rhythm that allows things to unfurl. Subtly changing a few frames here or there or holding on a moment can also shift tone or feeling, so it is about considering those beats as well as  the ones intrinsic to a music track when that’s key to a spot. 


LBB> What’s harder to cut around – too much material or not enough? (And why?)

Gary> Not enough is always harder. When you have an abundance you have choice. 


LBB> There are so many different platforms for film content now, and even in advertising something can last anything from a few seconds to a couple of hours. As an editor, are you seeing a change in the kind of projects you’re getting from brands and agencies?

Gary> With media living on many platforms there are opportunities to work on brand films that aren’t subject to super specific time constraints. I worked on a project out of Droga5 for Christie’s that involved letting long reactions shots of people standing in a gallery looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting play out. Because we were not limited by the length of the piece I chose, the takes that brought out the most emotion and we were able to create a stronger film because of it. Since you never see the painting itself, it’s all in the reactions.


LBB> Who are your editing heroes and why? 

Gary> Gerry Hambling was a classic feature editor who was, in my eyes, a godlike editor. He was a master craftsman and an incredible storyteller. He was a hero of mine, and I was lucky enough to be able to assist him for a time. Being in the room with him made me feel like this was an achievable career. He made me feel like I belonged.

LBB> What films or spots epitomise good editing for you?

Gary> It is a tribute to all of the elements working together seamlessly if the particulars of editing or other facets of production melt away and I can be really absorbed in the narrative. Of course, I do deeply appreciate elements of the craft, but being transported - especially when you know how things get made - that’s a testament to it being done well. 

LBB> What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with dreams of being an editor?

Gary> My advice to anyone coming into the business now is to have fun with it, to paraphrase my clients again. Be open to everything and all facets of editing and try it all. Short films, commercials, music videos - don’t limit yourself to one genre or format. Technology is ever-changing so it’s good to stay up to date on all of it. And if you admire someone’s work, reach out to them. I always make time to speak to people who are just starting out. It's flattering when someone appreciates what you do and it’s rewarding to have the opportunity to give back with some experience. 

view more - People
Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
Cut+Run US, Thu, 24 Feb 2022 09:18:45 GMT