Rooster Post Production’s freshly promoted editor on why editing is like sculpting and how childhood in rural Ontario gave him the film bug
As Toronto's Rooster Post Production welcomed in a clean, slick rebrand after 10 years in business, it also ushered in a new editor. Colin Murdock joined the company in 2014 as the assistant to editor Paul Proulx. “Colin’s dedication and meticulous attention to detail on every project has helped him develop his craft to become a strong storyteller,” Paul said in the press release announcing the promotion. “His ability to deliver on a creative brief, while also adding his voice to create a well-crafted story, make him a quick favourite with both agencies and directors."
So, what better time to get to know this fresh editorial talent? LBB's Addison Capper chatted with about editing, growing up in rural Ontario, and dogs.
LBB> You’ve just been promoted from assistant to editor – congrats! How are you feeling about your new role?
Colin> Thank you! I’m very excited as it's something I've been working toward for a long time. I'm really happy to have made this transition at Rooster which has been such a nurturing creative environment for me.
LBB> How did you end up as an editor? Where did you hone your craft? Was it what you always wanted to do?
Colin> My interest in film definitely originated with my dad and his extensive VHS collection. Growing up in a pretty isolated part of Canada, on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, watching movies was a go-to way to pass the time. Editing came into my life in high school comm tech class when we cut together some existing footage for an assignment. I don't think anything else (other than meeting my wife of course) has ever clicked into place so quickly and naturally for me. Shooting videos with my friends was a lot of fun, but I always looked forward to the part where I could load the footage onto the family computer and start manipulating it. I was using Windows Movie Maker at the time so there were likely a lot of cheesy transitions.
LBB> Tell us a bit about your role as an assistant editor - how long were you doing it for? What tips would you give someone just setting out as an assistant?
Colin> I was an assistant editor for just over four years. Assisting really keeps you on your toes and tests your ability to multitask to the max. The most important piece of advice I could give an assistant is to learn as much as possible from their editor. I've learned so much from assisting Paul Proulx these past few years and he's been such a great mentor to me. All of the editors at Rooster have influenced me in some way and it's rare to have so many talents at one company. Also, back up your projects constantly! Never hurts.
LBB> What drew you to commercial editing, as opposed to film or television?
Colin> I love the fast-paced commercial environment where you’re always looking forward to a new and unique project to sink your teeth into. You can totally shift gears from working on an emotional PSA to a hilarious beer commercial in the span of a couple weeks, so it allows you to flex your creative muscles in different ways. I'm also a huge fan of efficiency in storytelling and the time constraints of the commercial world forces you to trim the fat from your story without lessening the impact.
LBB> As an editor, do you have a specific method of working or does it differ dependent on the job? And if there is a way of working that you stick to, what does it involve?
Colin> The basics of my workflow remain the same, but I often tailor certain aspects of it depending on the kind of job. I like my footage to be organised in a way that reflects the way I think, so that shots are quick to recall and access as I'm working. I edit in Adobe Premiere and it allows you to make all kinds of labels, notes, and break things down to a really granular level, which I like. Once I have everything set-up, I start to go through the footage and pull the moments that I think will serve the story best. If the schedule allows, I like to step away after selecting and piece the story together in my mind while I do other things. All great ‘eureka’ moments come in the bathtub or shower and I'll stand by that.
LBB> A big chunk of your role is the communication of a story efficiently and clearly – what are the most challenging aspects about getting to grips with the nuts and bolts of storytelling?
Colin> The story always comes first so if I have a piece of the puzzle, either a shot or whole scene, that I'm iffy about and it's not doing anything to serve the story, then I need to try a new approach. I always circle back and use the story as both a compass and litmus test.
LBB> What do you enjoy about piecing those cogs together?
Colin> There is no better feeling than having a tight and well-constructed edit together after days of going through raw footage. It's as close as I'll ever feel to a sculptor chipping away bits of marble. Then you show it to your client and hope they see it the same way.
LBB> Which projects that you’ve been involved in are you most proud of and why?
LBB> You touched on this earlier, but where did you grow up and what kind of kid were you?
Colin> I grew up in a small town on Mantioulin Island in Northern Ontario, Canada. The closest city was about two-and-a-half hours away. If I wanted to see a movie at a theatre growing up, you really had to make a day of it.
I was the little kid that always tried to talk like I was an adult. And in a lot of ways that hasn't changed much.
LBB> If you weren't in advertising, what would you be doing?
Colin> Game show host? I guess actually I'd be a teacher. I come from a long line of teachers so I could see that happening in an alternate timeline.
LBB> Outside of work, what do you like to get up to?
Colin> I'm a full-time dog dad to a yellow Labrador retriever and I’m always on the hunt for some good wine recos!