I was at the V Festival over the weekend, working in my old job as a video editor – something I did for some seven or eight years before I started writing, but that I’ve been doing less and less over the last few years as the writing has gradually become my main employment. Basically I sat in a porter cabin for two days straight eating donuts and trying to listen to one band through a set of headphones while the bass of whoever was on the main stage made the soles of my muddy trainers vibrate. This particular job is a great laugh, though, as the same team of editors, assistants and producers have been doing it for years and everyone knows exactly what they’re doing – it’s a smoothly oiled machine with rarely a mistake or a cross word. It’s a big event, there are about a dozen in the editing team but maybe two or three hundred involved in the TV side of it altogether, and probably thousands in the event as a whole. My role is to check over the music pieces, fix any mistakes (shots of the cameraman’s shoes and so on) and sometimes tidy up the edits a little if I have the time, which I rarely do. Another editor is cutting interviews and links with the presenters, a third is stitching these bits together into six parts with break bumpers, graphics and all the other bits that make a finished show.
Bands are on throughout each day and the show goes out at night so, unlike with most of the jobs I used to do which would go on over weeks or months, there is serious time pressure and it gets more and more pressured as darkness falls. By the time the headliners are on you might only have minutes to check things over before they need to be stitched into the show, played out and transmitted. You’re nearly always still working on the last part when the first is on TV. Once the first bands come off stage, twelve hours rarely passes so quickly. You look up and it’s one in the morning. There’s a breathless energy about the event, and a feeling of team spirit and involvement in a group that is pretty much the absolute antithesis of writing. Exhausting, but exhilarating. Which is kind of the reason that I still do it, and I hope I’ll be asked to do it again next year. It’s nice to get out of your own head once in a while, and participate in something larger. Larger than my head? Yes, it is possible…
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Sounds a lot of fun, in a sick and work-like kind of way. Did you subliminally edit it with references to The First Law and Co.? How exactly did you get into that game, Joe? It’d be interesting (for me) to hear.
Seems like one of the things that helps aspiring writers become published authors is finding a tolerable job to pay the bills while working on the dream. Seems like you had that in the editing. I’m looking for it still. Or maybe I’m wrong and I should find jobs that are so distasteful they continuously force me to work on achieving my goals. But then I’m often so drained from work that I can’t focus on writing.
So which is it? :-/
Editing a live event sounds like it gives a nice big jolt of instant gratification that is not partucularly available while writing.
How would you compare it to editing a previously recorded event/show/video? The focus with both must be extreme but the live event seems adrenalized rather than OCD.
Now we know how you can write while living with construction and very young children.
I did somethiung similar in the early 90s working on the club and rave scene doing video camera work, mixing visuals, and lighting. I know the feeling of 1am (or usually 5am in my case) after a big event of teamwork. Bit like the aftermath of a successful battle?
I got into the game by working as a runner, which is to say a tea-boy.
Well, I started writing largely because the editing gave me enough time to do it.
Very different working after the fact. Still enjoy that, but it’s a bit more like writing in that you might spend a lot of the time on your own, in a dark room, staring at a computer screen. Usually it’s just you and a director involved as well, so there’s less of that team feel.
Never been in a battle, so I couldn’t say…
Joe, any musical highlights from the festival? Or is it impossible to appreciate the music while you’re working?
You get some idea of what’s going on, though it’s probably very different to the experience of actually being there.
Highlights? Florence and the Machine. Didn’t know much about her before, but its clear from watching her on stage she’s a serious talent.
Disappointments? Kings of Leon. Love ’em as a band, thought they were outstanding last time when they were second on the bill. Not sure success has improved them, though.
We were there since it’s literally a 40 mins walk from our front door to the main stage.
To think that you could be in possession of incriminating footage now.. *trembles with fear*