Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Crew Interview Number 2 - Billy Sneddon

Here's the second interview with GW crew members.

This is with Billy Sneddon....read on and enjoy....

1) Who are you, and what is your title?
My name is Billy Sneddon, and I am one of the two editors of Green Wing. The other one is Lucien Clayton. As you can tell from the name he's the posh one, I'm the bit of rough. We can also do good cop/ bad cop impressions.

2) And what exactly does an Editor do?
While you're all off filming in the bum end of nowhere, I am tucked away in a warm room, hunched over a computer watching what you got up to the day before. I will look at all the footage and choose the best bits and create an assembly edit of the show while you are filming, then when filming ends I am joined by Victoria (Producer), and together we begin the long process of turning the assembly cut, which can be anything up to 90 mins long, into the 49 min final programme.

3) What sort of training have you had and how did you get into the Industry?
15 years ago I was out of work and met an editor in a pub. He was looking for an assistant so I told him editing was what I always wanted to do, even though I really didn't even know what it was. Unbelievably, he bought it and gave me a job, and here I am. It's ridiculous I know, but it's true.

4) Green Wing is a mammoth project. How do you keep track of all the footage?
I read somewhere recently that there are thousands of hours of footage shot for the series! It's not quite that bad, it's probably more like 300 hours, but I'm only guessing. Thankfully it's all done on computer these days so it's pretty easy to keep track of it all. It's shot on digibeta tape, then digitized into two Avid editing systems. We also have a lovely script supervisor called Lesley who gives us edit notes (a brief explanation of what is being filmed and selected takes), which I pretend to read...

5) You must watch a scene over and over (and over again) when you're cutting it. How on earth do you look at a final cut objectively and with a fresh eye?
The honest answer is it's impossible. By the time it gets on the telly, I feel like I've watched it hundreds of time already. You just have to try and remember how you felt the first time you saw it. In fact if I can get away with it, I don't read the script or look at the notes before I watch the rushes, just so I can see it the same way a viewer would, without any prior knowledge. Then I try to remember that feeling when I'm watching it for the 43rd time and want to throw myself out the window.

6) Whenever I've seen you at work, you're tucked away in a darkened office/edit suite. What do you do to switch off from work ?
I lie on my living room floor naked with a half empty bottle of gin, sobbing quietly. No, actually I've taken up golf recently. I appear to be slowly turning into my father...

7) They say that good comedy is all about timing, which is particularly pertinent to your job of editing cutting in and out of a scene. Do you think you can be taught that knowledge of timing, or are some people more adept at it than others?
There are a lot of techniques and tricks that can be taught, but I've noticed a lot of the best editors are also musicians of one sort or another, so maybe there is some truth in the notion that it helps to have 'rhythm'.

8) Having worked on Series 1, did it make it any easier to edit Series 2?
Yes and no. Yes because we had already worked out the visual style and look of the thing, and no because on the first series we didn't really know the scale of the task, because we had never done anything that big before, but this time we knew what we were in for, and that made it pretty daunting to be honest.

9) Are there any scenes that you feel particularly proud of and why?
I can't remember which episode, but there's a scene where Statham goes into Lyndon's office and strips and rubs his bum along the desk. For me it's a good example of where the speed ramping effects work really well in sync with the music.

10) It was always nice to see you on set, albeit fairly rarely, but you made an appearance in Series 1 and Series 2 (I think?). Would you ever want to be an actor?
I was the homeless guy at the beginning of episode 7. I have been hassling Victoria for a bigger part in series 2, and she kindly gave me one, but sadly I was nervous and arsed it up! So I may hit the cutting room floor. Oh the irony!

11) What was your happiest moment on Green Wing, and what was your saddest/most trying?
Happiest moment was meeting Tamsin as I've always fancied her rotten. Turns out she's married to a really nice bloke, damn! Most trying is always the last day before locking off a programme and you're still desperately trying to find a way of cutting it down to the required length.

12) What tools are crucial to you work and what if any luxuries do you have (like a gold-plated mouse)!?
I'm old enough to remember the days before Avid but I could never go back to cutting on film or tape, I'd rather be a plumber. Come to think of it, plumbers do all right don't they? As for luxuries, give me a bacon sarnie and a cappuccino and I'm yours forever.

13) For people that don't know, I'd say that there's a very fine line between Directing and Editing because they are very similar disciplines. Would you ever want to Direct?
I directed Billy Connolly's World Tour of New Zealand two years ago and that was a blast. There isn't an Editor I know who isn't a frustrated director, we've all got the T-shirt.

14) You're clearly a very talented chap, do you spend ages editing all your home movies?
Noooo way. I'm like the builder who's own house is falling down. My sister asked me to sort out her wedding video, I said I'd get around to it. That was over 10 years ago...

Billy Sneddon, Editor extraordinaire, thank you for your time.

Jonathan Green, designer to the Gods, you need to get out more. heh heh.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting all these behind the scenes interviews! really makes you appreciate how much work goes into making the show - but good to see that you all had fun too!

Rose said...

I'm seriously considering starting the Billy Sneddon fan club. Would his ego be bearable?

dizzi said...

Ha ha! Billy Sneddon rocks!

Anonymous said...

Oooooh, Billy Sneddon. Ever since I heard his dulcet Scots tones on one of the comms on season 1, plus that forthright delivery, I was hooked. Didn't realise how much work went into editing, but it's good to get an insight - now need to get a DVD of Billy Connolly's World Tour of New Zealand to catch more of the Sneddon style. Couldn't the powers that be have gotten Billy to reprise his homeless guy role from season 1? I thought it was a moving performance.

la said...

thanks for another excellent interview! always nice to read these. :)

Craig J said...

Wanting to be an editor myself, this is a pleasure to read!