Kim Horton on training in the film-editing dept.

I was terrifically interested in the whole filmmaking thing, because just everything was going on there. You know, it’s just a joy to see, you know, Dennis Mitchell working in one of the edit suites. You know, Ken Russell was doing his Clouds of Glory, I think Roger Graef was doing his British Communist Party documentary (Decision; British Communism), and there was so much sort of going on that that I was kind of interested in, and I really wanted to be a part of it. And I couldn’t have asked to work for a better editor. I mean, Alan was the typical editor of that time, you know? Nobody went to film school, and Alan had worked in a coal mine at Leigh and he’d hurt his back, and he wanted an easier life. He actually came into Granada I think it was something called commercials makeup, and it was basically in between programmes they had commercials and those commercials were also on film. So you had to make up three commercials to take down to telecine to run, to be played, in between programmes, and that was a whole department, so there would be that department, obviously the film library, and then all the edit suites, the cutting rooms rather, down the corridor. And yes, it was terrific. And Alan cut things like dramas of the day, so it was Cribb, it was Strangers.. what else… the series Fallen Hero (1978-9), which was about a rugby player who had come to the end of his playing days. Wanda Ventham, Benedict Cumberbatch’s mum, was in it, she’s an actress anyway.
So what happens then, is… you know, we all like to say, “Well, there was never any training involved,” and when you compare it with the BBC where there most definitely was training, as an assistant you sat behind and watched and observed the editor, and you certainly did have the training to be able to do your job, so… I don’t really want to go too technical on what an assistant did, but you were handing shots that were hanging up in the trim bin, syncing up obviously was one of the tasks, a thing called rubber numbering was another that you had to send it off to get the picture and the sound numbered, so that the editors could keep it in sync, and lo and behold, if you got that wrong, if you’d sunk up the rushes and hadn’t checked them and the rushes weren’t in sync and they’d been sent away to be numbered, they head to go back to the number and all the numbers had to be scraped off, because they were called rubber numbers, there was a strange system of where a white number was applied to both the picture and the sound, and that kept your alignment, your sync alignment. And obviously making the tea, you know, they were the things that you did, and if the editor wanted to have an extra few drinks in the pub, then you had to get back to answer the phone and so be there with the director who was, you know, twiddling his thumbs, wondering where his editor was. But it was just a great starting point, and we were such a social bunch as well, you know, it was terrific fun to be amongst those guys. And there was great work being done, you know.

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