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Simon Rose 0:09
Simon Yes. Hello.
Ian Noah 0:12
I wondered whether we could start the interview by you confirming your name and giving me details about you.
Simon Rose 0:22
Yes. Simon rose Date of Birth second, the third 1946 work mainly in television What else do you want to know? What areas and mostly sorry, mostly as a film editor? Although not entirely.
Ian Noah 0:49
And was this for documentaries or
Simon Rose 0:51
Yes. Again, mostly documentaries, mostly documentaries, little bit of drama, and a little bit of what's now called corporate videos used to be called industrial documentaries.
Ian Noah 1:10
And your main area main craft was actually as an editor rather than, although I believe you have occasionally directed as well.
Simon Rose 1:19
Yes, I started as an assistant was rejectionist, an assistant editor editor did some directing decided it wasn't suited to me or I wasn't suited to it and went back to editing.
Ian Noah 1:35
Thank you very, very much. And thank you for giving us an opportunity to interview you for the effective oral history project. I wanted to feel like to start at the beginning Simon will explain how and where you were brought up and how you've gained your first interests and film.
Simon Rose 1:57
Yes, I was brought up in High Wycombe. My father was very keen on film. And, in fact, until my teenage years, we didn't have a television bird to mark any special occasion like a birthday or Christmas. We'd have a children's party and he bring out that bill in the House 640 projector, dim the lights, close the curtains, we'd all sit there. And that magic beam has been across the room and we'd be watching Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Or a very nice little French film called the red balloon or remember, which was a favourite. And so I got you know, that was the magic of cinema to me from an earlier age. And also, I was involved with film in front of the camera because he was a keen amateur filmmaker. He was a founding member of the amateur film, amateur Film Society. I saw the Wycombe amateur Film Club, I think it was cool. And I when I was I think less than four years old I had part in a film called Paper Boat, which is rather a daring amateur film. For its time. It was all like briefing counters. It was a lady having an illicit relationship with a glamorous young cyclist on the River Thames. Nice. And I was her son. So I got carried around a lot by this very glamorous lady from the amateur dramatics society, and I thought that was alright. But then as time went on, and my father kept filming me in different little films, it began to the the guild went off the gingerbread we couldn't go on holiday without him getting the camera out and getting us to act out some little story. And I thought well hang on I'm not actually having a holiday here and I'm not really relating to my father. As a father I'm it's all a bit artificial.
Anyhow, then I got to be a spotty teenager and he didn't want me in front of the camera anymore. So then I sort of started doing jumps behind the camera and that was more fun again, just carrying a tripod, holding up reflector and that kind of thing. Man meanwhile, heat. He started as a journalist, he worked for the Rank Organisation, the publicity department after the war. And he liked writing. But he liked him to films and then when I was still quite young, he got his ideal job, which was editor of amateur city mode. If I said his name, his name was Tony rose. He was editor of amateur cinema. And one of the things Magazine did was run an annual competition called the 10 best amateur films of the year, which he man is, you know, gave it quite high profile, he showed the 10 best at the BFI and usually got some celebrity like John Mills or Glenda Jackson to hand out the trophies. And he enjoyed enjoy that side of it as well. He enjoyed the glamour side effects, he became quite good friends, the job Mills towards the end of his life. So one of the things I did again, as a teenager was helping judge the entries, we judged all the 16 Minute trees and somebody else did the 8 million the nine fives. And that was interesting. It was very varied. There was quite a lot of rubbish. There was lots of cartoons, because that was one area that amateurs could compete almost on a level playing field with professionals. You didn't need actors, you didn't need a big budget, you didn't need to use other films, you only shot what you used. So and there are some very good animated films, often comedies. Unusually, in the 10 best, there'll be three or four of those. But two dramas, I suppose you could call them that's stand out in my mind from those days, that one the winners of the 10 best one was by Ken Russell. I was called Amelia and the angel. And it was a very Fellini esque little film about a girl who wants to go to a fancy dress party just as an angel and she can't get a costume. And then she sees what looks like a real angel walking down the street because we the audience now it's the lady who's in a ballet or something. Anyhow, she follows her and I remember, she follows her up a spiral staircase and it's like this, this angel is going up to heaven. And it's very Ken Russell ish. And I think on the basis for that film, he got his first job at the BBC. And another film that was extremely impressive was by Peter Wilkins, it was called forgotten faces. And it was about the uprising against the against Russia in Budapest, I think, in the 1950s was the first of the of those people trying to break away from the Soviet bloc. And it was about the Soviet repression of that uprising. It was a very moving and very realistic portrayal. It looked like it looked like newsreel. lert in fact, each shot in the streets of Canterbury with a bunch of amateurs. And I thought it was amazing. And actually Peter Watkins became my hero and I I've sort of followed his career ever since. So that was that was my childhood, I guess. Did you
Ian Noah 8:14
did you look at films at school? I mean, what was what was school?
Simon Rose 8:18
I remember at school watching films about how to drill a hole in metal. Which was I see that was not much relief from the lessons. Some I think one teacher she got us one of the Ealing comedies that was that was one of the comedies but no, because I by that time I by the time I was in sixth form I'd seen a lot of films was my father got out. He liked classic films. So he got out, you know, Battleship Potemkin only got all sorts of films. So I've seen a lot of films.
Ian Noah 8:55
And where did you did you say you were born in sorry?
Simon Rose 8:59
No, no in the High Wycombe, which is bucks. I mean, it's used to be a nice little market town. It got ruined by the planners in the 50s.
Ian Noah 9:10
And then from that you basically grew up in highway.
Simon Rose 9:14
Yeah, I was there to like, even after I started work, I was commuting from Africa to London.
Ian Noah 9:23
serve as a highway from school.
Simon Rose 9:26
Yes, I went to my schools. Well, I went to the private primary school, which might mean my parents couldn't afford to send me there, but my granddad could. And he didn't think much of the local schools that he he paid for me to go sisal Primary School was just I think it was only about 40 kids in it. And it was so nice. It was cool. And the idea was to get me through the 11th class, which at that time, they had the 11 Plus in Buckinghamshire. It was nice school, but it failed in that in that it wasn't it wasn't good enough to get me for the 11 Plus, I mean, that was, that was my fault. I think lots quite a few others did. It was just, you know, that day turned up at school, we do this test. And, you know, that was it. I didn't, I wasn't, I wasn't really ready for it. I was a dreamer. So then there was a bit of a culture shock. So I went to them went to the secondary modern. And because I've been to a private school, they always assumed I was us rich, not, you know, they were puzzled that our family didn't have a car, I didn't have a television. But still, I must be rich stuff, you know, because I've been to a private school. And, you know, they gave me a pretty hard time and I had to sort of fight back to survive, and I did. And then there was a funny thing, we were given a second chance, or the 11th Plus at 13, a few of us in the sort of top stream at the secondary model. And somehow again, by fluke I think I got through I got to a grammar school. Quite a famous the Royal Grammar School of High Wycombe, which is run by headmaster is a model on a, on a private boarding school, I think he even had a few borders, and he had all these ridiculous sort of traditions of houses and all that stuff. And it struck me very forcibly that how unfair the 11 Plus was because I'd left behind a bunch of kids at the secretary modern, who are if anybody got one oh level, that was, you know, it wanted to speak, you know, speeches speech day, it was just very unusual. And that wasn't really what they were aiming for. They were turning out kids to go and work in the local furniture, batteries, or on the phone on their phones. In fact, we had one of our lessons was ruled studies, which was looking after the school pig. And then when I went to the grammar school, it seemed to me there's a very similar blood, bunch of kids with similar intelligence. But because their parents, and the teachers just had different expectations, they were pretty much expected to carry on his sixth form, and that would have a good shot to come to Oxford or Cambridge. So just because of one exam at 11 years old, it absolutely split the population. And I think only people now sometimes say, oh, we should bring back grammar schools, but only because it really brought about what you know, what's the word Enos of social mobility, but only a fifth of the people got through to grammar school. And most people who did got there because they got middle class parents who'd given them coaching and helped me get through the 11 Plus, so I'm not sure so sure about that. Anyhow, I think I've got a bit off the point.
Ian Noah 12:58
Not at all, it's very interesting in terms of that background, but then that, can I take it that you then had that same attitude when you went to work? And you go to university to study film? Or did you go straight into the industry? Or was
Simon Rose 13:11
No, I didn't think I wanted to be in the film industry, because my I didn't want to follow my father's footsteps. And he was become the leading light in the amateur film world. And I I thought, I want to be a scientist because that's what my uncle was. I thought that sounded interesting. But I didn't I wasn't quite good. Father, I was interested in science. I didn't manage to get the sufficient A levels to get to university. But while I've been being have, when I had interviews at universities, they usually asked me what I was interested in. And I was really interested in film. So I started thinking, well actually, do I really want to be a scientist or not? And so then, when I didn't get to university, I thought, Well, okay, I'll go to film but I want to be paid for it. I'm not gonna be like my father. I, if I'm going to work, I want to be paid a reasonable wage for it. And my father use somebody for the film society called Lou Hines who ran a dubbing Theatre in London. And he said he thought he could get a job as a projectionist. So as 18 years old, I went up to telephone services and Baker Street. This was a dubbing face. We've just passed over the poetry that did 16 Mill processing and printing on Ektachrome and Kodachrome reversal stock which is quite popular in those days. But they had a dubbing day from the basement. And I got a job there and it was it was a nice little it was a great setup loon house was a brilliant boss, the best boss I ever had. added in accumulated a very good team. He was a good head of sound. And as an amateur he liked a bit of experimentation, which I have I've always enjoyed. Remember what he was he was dumping a film and it was setting up a horse race. So we really need some Tannoy here don't we know you the editor some give me any sort of background noise. It doesn't feel like a race course we need a tan or so he picks up his headphones and plug them into the mic socket on his on his board on his on his desk. I didn't know you could do that. Apparently my headphones can work with a microphone in reverse. He started he went forward went into record as he was dubbing with his fingers on on the faders. He was also shouting into these headphones coming over the rails now it's number six, yes, I think it's a bit of a flex. And the first of all, let me put it through a filter. So it's only like a turnover.
And, and it was, yeah, he had a very good sound mix as his main bits are called Mike billing was I think the best one of the best sound mixers I ever came across. In those days, we used to have cue sheets to tell them tell the sound mix what was coming up. So the editor would lay all these tracks. And then he make up this chart we showed care to Hudson was a work of art works. And you might have eight tracks and you'd indicate the exact footage which you wanted somebody to fade in and fade out. And a mic would actually read this thing. And using all eight fingers on different faders he do it and he do it for sort of minutes on him that you think might keep going thanks stuff. It wasn't just clever, it was good. That gave him a real feeling for the dynamics of the soundtrack rather than stopping and starting, which is very common these days. And you stop and you set your levels. You do a bit at a time. He really had a because of the way he did it, he really had a feeling of the as I say as it was like a piece of music is on the fly. Yeah, it was on the fly. I mean, in those days, things have been on the fly up to quite recently, I joined calophyllum services, and he was the pioneer in the world, I think of what's called Rock and Roll. Which is up to them, you. You just let's go back a bit up to the ball. All all film sound has optical sound. And you you recorded it on an optical camera. And you didn't actually hear what you recorded until the next day when you got it back from processing. So I mean, that had to be on the fly, you just went for it. And I heard it the next day. Then after the during the wall, magnetic sound recordings developed. And at first they I thought this could be useful because we can listen, we can listen back to what we've just done straight away. We don't have to wait for nerves. So at first they just recorded it on magnetic sound. And then if they were happy with it, they'd send it they copy it to optical sound. And then fine. Then the next development from that, which is where California services took over, I think in the I guess where are we now? Early 40s. No, no. Where am I it's when am I there? I joined Yeah, I joined Keller from services in 64. So, early early 60s they had discovered that but and by this time magnetic tape have been developed, which had sprocket holes so could stay in synchronisation with the pictures. So you could run it down and see with a picture. First that you had to just go on the fly for the whole 10 minute real get it right two minutes. Then they discovered that you could go back run backwards. And if when you are running forwards you you're a cold button turned on the record head and the arrays head at the same time. Because they were because they were controlled by themselves. You actually got a very quick fade in you actually got a built in mix as you press the button. work most of the time it was hard on sound certain sounds like rustling leaves or waves. It always sort of kicked a bit. But basically it worked. And then years after that they actually found a way of being it's a punch out as well as he could insert something into something else So it's the first place that did rock and roll, I remember people coming up and being amazed that you can do that as well, they can stop and go back. Of course, it makes it have to be very clever, because when he punched in, you have to make sure all the faders were in the same positions as they had done when he previously did it. So he had to keep a note to remember where it's been as well. So there was Lou, great head of sound Mike bidding, brilliant Mix, mix, he makes things like seven up to well in action and lots of great films. Peter ran, who's a very good maintenance guy, and they used to make make a lot of stuff themselves, you know, they didn't, they, they did all the wiring themselves, they, they wanted something, they make it they they say a good idea to have loops of certain useful sound effects. So they need something to play leaps on, most people just put the loop on it, what are the
one of the film one of the magnetic players with pockets and everything, and he went mad or now, but because it has pockets, it probably only lasted a couple of minutes before it started tearing the loop to pieces. So they realised that a tape recorder running at seven and a half inches per second actually runs approximately the same speed as film running at 25 frames a second. So all they need to do is adapt to tape recorder. And then so it could run a loop. And because it was just a rubber roller on it, it didn't it didn't do any harm. So they just got the engineers up in the film lab in California services to meet them. And there was lots of stuff like that going on. So yeah, and Peter Brown head of maintenance. Surely, who was Mike billings wife was very attractive, outgoing, top knee flirtatious lady who just knew how to chat up with clients and keep everybody happy. So it was it was a really nice, nice team. And I was I was happy that once I got the hang of things. I mean, there were downsides to it, we were in a basement of Baker Street. And when we came down when I used to be very often the first person and I've come down the steps, which lets concrete steps straight off the street. And as I walked down the steps, I could see the blue haze at the bottom, I was just walking down into the into the diesel fumes that had sort of sunk down from the street outside into this basement so it's not there's not a healthy environment. Another downside was that we used to quite often at that time get power cuts I can't quite remember why maybe it was minus strikes I don't know what was just proper that there were quite frequent power strikes during the winter because the they just couldn't cope with demand. And we used a lot of power was really using big interlock and big selsun motors to interlock the projector with the sounds phase. So, when there was a power card, the everything will just grind good lights went out everything grinds to a halt there seemed to be only one torch down there. So the W mixes job was to issue the clients back up to street level and I was left in the dark. So I had to rewind the film by hand until I got rescued by somebody with it to our my main job actually as a projection is was stopping the loop going film film got has a loop at the top and bottom of the gate dystopic juddering and because we entered returning out with work prints cutting copies there are a lot player joins in so they tended to get if there was a bit too much sticky tape on the join. It got stuck in the gate and you'd lose the picture goes blurry. So my job is to sort of put my feet Trina loose and put it back down again. I soon I realised that was a dangerous occupation. So I started using using a pencil to pull the loop down. Later we managed to get our project and that was wonderful that it was a Maltese cross mechanism and you didn't have a loop to pull down sorry, my going on too much.
Ian Noah 25:01
Finding that other areas that it would be nice to look into a little bit more detail. When you went to the labs, did they provide you with any training? Was it like an apprenticeship? Or were you just thrown in the deep end? Were there other trainees with you
Simon Rose 25:17
know, I was thrown in the deep end. I mean, this, as I said, the soundbar moment was very small anyway, it's only about six people. Of course, what I've forgotten to mention is that in those days, it was a closed shop. I only managed to get the job because nobody else wanted it, basically. Because any, any jobs have to be advertised to union members first. And so and then as I think I have to wait a few months before I could apply for union ticket, and then as soon as I could, I did because that was a very valuable thing to have in those days. People have criticised closed shops, I knows, you know. But you couldn't understand why that you couldn't get a job. Unless you had a ticket, you couldn't get a ticket unless you have a job. And maybe to some extent eating it favoured people with relatives in the industry or whatever. But I think that goes on anyway, whether there's a union or not, but I think it has some advantages. Because men, everybody has to start at the bottom of learning, learn some trade and work their way up, rather than just arriving according themselves a director or something. And it also meant that people weren't exploited. Because everybody has been a union, the shop steward would check that they were getting paid the right rate. I'd later on many years later, I was a partner in my own little editing company. When the product title union power, vastly diminished, almost disappeared. And I'd get film students ringing me up. Well, certainly the ends of every term, I get lots of calls from people just coming wanting to come and work for nothing. I didn't take for offer but I know lots of people did in the days of getting of power that wouldn't have happened
Ian Noah 27:33
and so you are a member quite early on
Simon Rose 27:37
the outcome in the mind that my number I think it was in the 2000s Any I was a membrane 64 of the ACTT shop steward I think was upstairs in the film that part. And I remained you know, I'm a retired member now but I always felt was the Union
Ian Noah 28:08
did you have any particular run ins with the listeners, dentists may early days? offer their services? Problems?
Simon Rose 28:16
Not that later on? I did. But no, I mean, I did discover I mean, Lou was a good boss, as I say, and I his boss wasn't the guy who owned telephone services, this guy called Leonard Chase. I think he bought a Model C printer after the wall. And when I left school, I somehow thought that people are we've got some topic companies must be rather super good people may be or certainly clever, good people, I don't know. Very romantic idea, I think got this illusion of have I realised people who got to the top of companies were basically interested in making money and that didn't necessarily mean you were a nice person. And certainly then chase wasn't particularly and. But Lou protected us from the top management rarely, occasionally, he'd say to me, Simon, you know, you better not take quite such long lunch hours. You know, they've noticed it in front office, you know, you need to be a bit careful, but, you know, but
Ian Noah 29:24
some of the enunciation
Simon Rose 29:27
Oh, well, yeah, whether initiations Well, luckily, because I design your film, I didn't fall for the usual tricks. I mean, like the A favourite one, which I think they did try me was Simon, could you go and buy us a packet of sprocket holes? Like I knew that wasn't true. And I know open the labs. There was some pretty tough initiation ceremonies which we were kind of nice little bumps down the sound upon But I know if you know people got turned upside down, puts in a film being lifted onto the top of a cupboard, you know, it's pretty undignified typically if you're a woman but no, I managed to escape all that.
Ian Noah 30:20
The World in Action and seven up and so these are the productions that you're working on at the time. Yeah, swinging 60s.
Simon Rose 30:28
Yeah. Well, I entered the business a good time. I think they seemed most most I don't know. I've said I mean, we were just doing 60 mil and all all documentaries at that time, were made on 16 mil. commercials for dance 35 mil, all documentaries for 16 mil. And so we saw a lot of them. And we saw a lot of amazing films with amazing diversity. And there was a great freedom to experiment. And that is the thing that I've, over the years I've noticed, has got lost.
And Ken Loach, Ken Russell, John Schlesinger words were working in the BBC at that time, really
was the word I mean, well, genius, I think but people who really had a vision of what they wanted to do and made it I remember we dubbed Ken Loach is at the junction, which was a play for today. But now the highlight for me was seeing Peter Watkins returning as a professional now he got a job at the BBC on the on the basis of forgotten faces. And he had done one jobs and system produce, I think, and he Weldon's recognised his toddler, lets him make his next film, why he wanted to know what he wanted. And he made a film called Caladan. And it broke most the rules he had he, he liked working with amateurs, he thought it gave his films a quality that he couldn't achieve using professional actors. And he went up, he was making a film about the last war on British soil a lot a move. And he he went up with some amateurs I mean, I think one was one was a film editor from London, who played the, the British, the English sorry, English and, and he found some local people or uncle Adam or who were descendants of illusional Highlanders. He fought him in those battles. And he had a way of working and just getting people involved and interested in the story. And not just acting apart, they were living apart. And that came across him. He was also very innovative in his in the way he shot things. I remember on the early film, the amateur film about forgotten faces. There was a scene where the Russian soldiers have been captured by some rebels in a world cornered unless this Russian guy was held up against the wall, you see a frantic look on his face. And he he managed to scramble free estate around runs over a footbridge. And every film I'd seen up to then the camera would have anticipated what he was going to do or they'd have cut to a wide shot and seen him on over the footbridge. The to Watkins didn't do that. The camera was on this guy's face. He certainly looks like he's gonna be he runs out of frame the camera sort of searches for him, catches up with him, follows him over the footbridge. That, you know, that just tells you it's newsreel, although it wasn't I think Peter was going to must have worked probably as an editor on on Israel. So he knew what reality looked like and he could recreate it. And on Culloden. He was given a very experienced very good BBC camera man called Dick Bush and Dick Bush was interviewed later and said he was given this fresh faced young director to work with. Peter was only about 27 And he looked younger than he was And he sort of had a shy look. And Dec Bush thought, I'm going to have to teach this guy a few things. And he said actually learned from open to these walk ins that wanted to shoot stuff properly on a tripod and Peter Watkins wanted it to have the look of being shot in a battle. Occasionally kick the tripod, or give it give it a shake. And actually, a lot of it was shot handheld. Anyway, I think that Bush came around to sing that was the way to do it. So we did cut out, which was, you know, critics critically acclaimed. And then a year later, on the basis of that he was allowed to make the war game about the government's plans what would happen in the event of a nuclear war. And to cut a long story short, the BBC wouldn't show it.
They got banned. They, they denied at the time that there was any government interference or influence on that decision, they said it was based on the film just didn't come up to artistic expectations or something. When you if you look at any of the films that were transmitted in that film, I think most of them would be far below the artistic achievements because of the war game. And they not only banned it from British TV, and later, it transpired they actually there were meetings with PVC governors and cabinet ministers. And yeah, there was government. They were, you know, obviously worried about public morale, because there were no proper, you know, realistic plans in the nuclear war, apart from some bankers, that hire people, everybody else is going to have to wash their windows and hope for the best. They didn't obviously think that would be good from wrong. And, and it didn't go anywhere in the world on TV. That was a BBC stipulation, but it did actually get shown at the Hollywood Oscars and won Best Documentary, which must have upset the CFO.
I'm sorry, Sunday. Yes, yeah, that was my next step. So I buy this all this time, I'd be wondering, well, what do I want to do in the film business officer, I don't want to get projections to my wife. And at first I thought he wants to I wanted to be a camera man, because it seemed glamorous, and you went travelling around the world. But in the web, I hardly ever saw. I didn't ever saw a camera man. They were always off filming their next job. What I did see where editors, I realised how influential they were on the finished product. And you knew if a certain director or certain editor was booked in that day, you could expect something special. And a few editors, I noticed di Vaughn David needs on a few others names his TED, Ted Roberts, Ted Roberts was, you know, you just knew whatever it was, he'd make a good fit. Well, if it was biomaterial, he'd make an okay film. If it was okay material, you make a good film. So, also, these thermometers seem quite a nice bunch, they generally had a good sense of humour and have a lot of patience, which they needed to. And because if anything is going to, you know, if she's going to hit the fan is going to do it in the dubbing theatre. A director and editor have been getting along just about for six weeks. Finally, on the last day, which is dub, that's where they let their hair down and really say what they think of each other. So part of the dubbing mixes job apart from mixing the soundtrack is actually being a diplomat. Anyhow, back to editors. Yeah, I thought I wanted to be an editor. And the first you know, there were some Sound Editors as part of sort of attached to the sound department. Who they, because we got lots of films made by sort of semi amateurs or people making like, you know, how Bane travelogues and that sort of Lots of those kinds of films were shot nudes because most most 16 year old cameras were both, you know, wind up both axes. In fact it was it was extremely difficult to shoot six sounds on on on 16 mil and that was that was another development that would have been happening during this period. novelists have been invented and so on has a way of
synchronising picture and sound, but that was that was too expensive for most people. So they shot new style. They then employed Sound Editors delay music and sound effects and stuff for their films. And I got a job briefly as an assistant to a couple of guys who were doing that. And then they both left and then I was the PERT I was it, I was trapped layer. So that was a pretty quick learning curve. And I made it up quite a lot as I went along. I like to learn how to do it properly. But I was I had a lot of fun, you know, there was all this new music you could get, which in those days arrived on 78 RPM discs. You chose the track you wanted. And then the music library once you've chosen it would send it to you on quarter inch 15 IPS nice quality. And, and doing the sound effects was great fun. I always enjoy it. And I still do up to my last job, I would always find some excuse to say, actually, I think we did a bit of Russell there. Can I just pop in the commentary booth and I'll do a bit rustling around a few footsteps or something. And and, you know, I used to enjoy finding ways of making noises. I had an ice breaker going through ice once I found if I wrote the microphone against my beard, it was a pretty good sort of imitation. I mean, the thing is, if it's in sync, you kind of believe it. You know, it doesn't have to be exactly the right noise if it happens at the right point. go along with it. Yeah, so that was there. So I became a sound editor. And I was given a steam back I think one of the first in the country. And this is this was a real luxury because it had six plates and it sounded great was you know, really nice quality picture and sound as opposed to a little pixie ankle or something. But it was really it was really built as a viewing machine. It wasn't really for editing, but I used it for editing. And yeah, it was a deep end. And I also got a couple of things to cut the picture of somebody turned out on day who was a hippie sort of guy. Who was you feel okay, yeah, hippie type guy who was doing I suppose what he called an underground movie at the time. He filmed quite a lot of topless people on South of France beaches. And I didn't understand what the film was about. It was all a bit weird. And he said he wanted it edited by he wanted the picture re edited. And I said well, I don't mean I don't really think about picture editing really I'm a sound editor he said all that's great. You know you have a fresh approach to it. Just go ahead and just move stuff around. And again, we pulled out a bag was one of the bits of film he said put these in as well. So I did like jumbled it up a bit more, cut it to music a bit and he was very happy. And he had a bunch of tenors in his pocket. A lot of money in those days. He pulled off a couple of cables. When that was a week's wages. He said oh by the way you can borrow the other Mini Moke if you bought gave me his keys to his Mini Moke so I weren't driving around so her with me in a mini mogul this isn't the middle of the swinging 60s. You know this is this is it. Without him last night it didn't last was Lou Hanks got the sack. Banana Chase basically more or less got that so he was offered another job which is an awful job just being head of optical sound or something else to parallel whether main processing happened. It came back ashen faced from this meeting with Leonard Chase, told everybody sorry, that's got the sack basically. They're bringing somebody else somebody else turned out to be a outside broadcast mates. We didn't know anything really about the job. So quite quickly, I think the Everybody sort of nine out of 10 of the people who works there left. Most of us have followed Luke's he set up another place. He set up a dubbing series for political ethos films out of Hamill. And after a few few months working at CFS I heard from Lou that they there was a job going as an assistant film editor. So
that's when I learned how to do things properly as opposed to the way I've been kind of making up for the last year or so.
Ian Noah 45:42
See, went back to work.
Simon Rose 45:44
Yeah, not directly. I wasn't in the sound department anymore. Athos films was a company, as I said was as out of Hamel near Ealing. The reason they move there was that there was quite a lot of BBC work going. Schools and further education were based at Ealing, a place called videos house above the Infobright station. And they have they've got lots of editing work going. So ethos is set up 1516 year old costumes with editors and the systems to service that work. Ethos originally been in in Soho. And in order to persuade editors to move out to Hamill, they said that we could move on to the features agreement, which paid a bit more than the shorts agreement, which is what they used to be. So it was it was reasonably well paid. I don't think I actually immediately got a rise because I was taken on as a trainee for a couple of months, and then became an assistant. But the editors were earning about 40 quid or something which was well above the average wage, so it was pretty good wage. And I learned the proper way to be to edit and proper routine for 16 year old customer. It was very tough to start with. I was booked with a legacy which has been made up from assistant himself. So it's pretty insecure. And every morning, I'd have to be willing to up at work, they'd have a row of China graphs, lying on the bench, probably sharpen not like these with a tableau camera tape on the end so they wouldn't roll off the bench. And every bundle of film shields had to have a plastic band wound on it three times one inch from the bottom. All the film cans had to be marked with a template of the titles all lined up neatly. And you know, and if you lost a trim, you are in big trouble on it. And I had to draw this about about six months I managed to stick it out and just gritting my teeth and and you know, I knew that if anything went wrong, I'd get the blame but he did I saw him do that with alerts if there was something's not quite right. Somehow he find a way of shifting the blame onto the board trees. So I really have a watch my much my tail when I got away with it. And at Athos apart from lots of schoolwork there were three customers editing my life, which was a really prestigious series at the time. It was the main BBC documentary strand. They put out about 3050 minute films a year well, some 50 minutes of some half hour with 20 minutes discussions. And it covered a wide range of subjects, basically social documentaries. I think the byline in the radio time said mail live. The series that looks at people in the situations that shape their lives, which was good byline, and they did that. It was run by Desmond Wilcox. on X Fleet Street reporter very hard headed, very intelligent, a student man and Bill Morton his sidekick. I think they both moved across my TV from I don't know, this week or somewhere. And they set up a little sort of fiefdom, actually in Ken house at BBC Kensington house. I never quite knew exactly how it worked, but they seem to have got some autonomy within the BBC to do do their own thing. I think that's maybe that's why they were able to use only three outside freelance editors only one inside one I think there should be at the time. And they did other things like they. At that time, if you wanted to view a film The BBC you hired a viewing theatre which had a projection projector screen and a projection is you booked it a few days in advance and then you went and watched your film, obviously, you know, for a programme going out every week. It wasn't very practical. And so they, they bought a steam back. I think they put it down to sort of 10 filing cabinets or something, a steam back. It took all the offices and put it in it and somehow managed to get a projectionist sort of the conduit to be there and to run the films that that was the guide I think they got up to and they were real characters.
Ian Noah 50:44
What are you talking about? Steenbergs? You mentioned in previous discussions, the minions.
Simon Rose 50:53
Oh, yeah. Sorry. Well, yes, exactly. Well, I thought I discovered all these different bits of equipment you could run film on these days, lots of people, whenever you see people looking at film, they will use a steam that was interesting that people tend to assume that was the machine that they were there was that there was all sorts of machines. And the great thing about film is that as long as it machines got Sprockets the right distance apart, it will it will run the film. And so you could take your film after Mineola and put it on an Acme earlier and move it to you know, there were all sorts of machines, several that quite a few of them made by British Companies Act made were an Oxbridge. They made pixelings which were a clever little thing you could put on your editing bench replaced the old synchronizer you could turn a handle against the little picture about our big three sound heads. And I think they made the various missions. I mean, low low, the machines were clever, lots of them they were really badly engineered so that to always having to tamper with them adjust things with an Allen key. And the good thing again was that I could do that you could sort of see how they worked as opposed to a computer which I'm afraid I don't I can't think I can take it apart right with those things I knew how to adjust the tension and you know do that sort of thing. And film was you know was international 16 metal film you can I can still I've got old films I can I still got 16 projects, I can still go and look at it if I want if I try and watch a film that was online on two inch videotape or wanting to videotape you know, where do I find the machine and and I worked on some 16 mil films that were CO produced so I went to America and cut on a machine out there I need to do they change over to tape by then so without this we're practically put it out in the museum for me but only it was the biggest thing I've ever seen with every sort of add on gizmo, think of flashing lights everywhere. And France went to production in France and we worked on can't remember the names of their machines. Anyhow. They were they were similar except they were on the film here the way out so you had to rewind it they put it in motion out but it always worked. So that those machines we used to play around with
Ian Noah 53:40
you mentioned some characters some of the characters that you were involved with Kim cannons
Simon Rose 53:48
Yeah. The most yes Well, I was met with Jasmine Wilcox his his sidekick was Bill halter he I think his his role was to was Desmos report if they're gonna was very good at writing and knew all that stuff. Bill was supposedly knew more about editing. He claimed his work he edited for or somewhere else. I don't know maybe maybe had he taught me a couple of things about editing. I remember once a director Kim put me in an impossible situation where he kicked out done the establishing shot of somebody walking up the driveway and then he just cuts the interview them standing somewhere else and you know, no way you could make that cup work. So I'd let the guy walk out of shop and just sort of and then comes interview Bill Morrison said to me an empty frame or never get you out of trouble Simon he's kind of right you know, it was so obvious it was actually better just I forget exactly how I got round it but I started the voice before you cut the interview and you know, and then cut as the guy was in middle of frame or something. It didn't make it better. cuz I think Bill Mollison was also a bit of a hatchet man for Desmond, if there was any difficult decisions had to be made. He was the one who sort of gave people the bad news. But Desmond, although he was very tough, and they, the language there was quite hair raising on are ministers, like, you know, like the old people's ideas of the old days of freeze freeze of hold the front page, and it's all very matcher. And although there was some very polish in refined young ladies working there, the language, you know, the the air was blue with obscenity of sentences. That was just that was just the atmosphere. I mean, I'll give you an example. propeptide Shun. Desmond, although he was tough, he, he did sort of either care about people was what this series was about. And if he felt you were being unfair to a participant, he say, so I believed in truth. I'll give you a couple of examples. Jenny Barrett have made a film, which I edited. And she filmed a fairly large lady from quite a low angle. I don't think it was I don't think it was deliberate. I think the camera and I just decided that was a good background. But it did show her double chin. And that really laid into Jenny about, you know, what do you do, and you can't do that. You've got to pay respect for this lady, and truth. And then we did a thing about Bonfire Night. Basically, it was sort of warm and cold remember a member and it was just reminding people to be careful with fireworks basically. So there was a scene in a&e department that people injured by fireworks. And the director said, Well, there's not a lot going on. But don't worry, you could have plenty of screams here. And that's not said no, you know, if the camera man heard somebody screaming he pan round and say that person was don't aspirin. Yeah, he's a good guy. And he was he was there was also this thing of building up morale, that seems to have been lost he he was kinda leader who put across the it was asked against the establishment. We he was part of us, we were fighting the boring old thoughts at the top of the BBC, you know, so we were gonna make good television, wherever they said, and that made you feel inclusive, not, to me now seems to have I haven't come across it a long time, most executives these days to say, Well, what we're going to do is this, and this is what this is what this is what they say, we've got to do it. You just got to do it. You know, there's no, there's no answer question. But which I think is counterproductive. I mean, obviously, Desmond probably did have, you know, was working within what was acceptable, but the way he presented it was that we were, we were not doing that we were groundbreaking. And we were to some extent, and he was very daring. He did a film about protesting the riots during the Vietnam War. I was assistant editor on that.
And he filmed people who'd deserted or refused to go into the American army, my holdout in a church in Hawaii. And Desmond was filming with a great camera man called Phil may you later became a top features camera man. And they were pretending to get an establish of this church. They knew there was military police in a car watching them so they just got this establish me just worked with the camera off the tripod and rushed up the car. Filmmaking touch, full stop to focus, got a nice job. The guy in the car, Desmond said, Well, you know, what are you doing here? Why are you doing this? And these people got the right to be here. So that was the kind of film it was. and afters we had to show it to some top US military power profs. And I was there and they said Desmond don't well, Mr. Wilcox, don't you think you may rather anti war film here? And then, of course, what else would I do? Would I make a pro war He was he was good
Ian Noah 1:00:06
this is also the time at which you learned to cut.
Simon Rose 1:00:11
Yeah, I was working. I was assisting a very good editor Graham ship of his craft on feature films, I think he'd worked as an assistant at film, calm. And he done a little bit of editing on features, but I suppose he wasn't getting very far. So he moved across the documentaries. But he's a charming guy. He was gay, although, that wasn't. That wasn't stated at the time because people weren't really coming out for that time. He was a very good editor. And he gave gradually gave me more chances to have a go. Now you can go and cut this sequence Simon. Or you can do the travelling with grandma was said travelling was like washing up after a good meal. Usually a few days at the end of schedules, which weren't long, we had six weeks to cut the 15 minute film which you know, which was tight. And then maybe you're supposed to have a week to track laboured on loosely got whittled down to about three days. Then you have with me track down he could carry on fine calcium a little too. While I was travelling real world, I enjoyed that trendline. And and what did I learn off Graham, I don't know, a few little practical tricks I learned. I learned to kill. If you've got somebody walking through a door and you've got a shot of them going out through the door and the other angle of them coming in through the door. Important thing to make it look like a nice smooth car isn't how far the door is open. There's people won't notice that. The important thing is that on screen, the movement is continuous. So that's called an action curve. And that makes the most smooth cuts you can get. And he said you can actually put both shots in the pic sync together. So and look through him so they sort of superimposed and you can by winding you can see where the action actually matches. That's the place to cut. So that was a real practical trick. Many I think basically you learn anything by doing it. But more importantly he taught me how to handle myself in the classroom how to handle the director. when to say yes when to say no? The whole psychology I don't know how people who go to film school learn that. You can only learn it by watching it happen by being. I remember gramme. Often that be some little favourite sequence of grammes that at some point, the director say we're sorry, I know it's nice gramme, but it doesn't fit. Really, you know, it's not part of the story. Can we take their gramme gramme would argue it's like, fine. He said to me, so I'm just brilliant, the cat over there, separate who came on the show? And then a few days later, course, you'd be a bit further down the line with editing. And there were problems. You know, there were, it wasn't quite working. Storyline had a hiccup in it was something and direct and very been discussing, direct. So I don't know, Graham said, Well, don't worry, you know, you go home, I'll never think about it and come back in the morning. And then go home and say smoking and we'll sequence out that can and he put it in in the perfect place. And it'll just work perfectly, you know, and next morning, he shuts over it. So everything will be fine. But that was that was the thing really patience. And if you knowing you're right, if you know you're right. Don't forget that. The only things I regret from editing is when I've felt something was right, and then been talked out of it. And then a few weeks later on what to do go out on television. And I think yes, I was right. I should have stuck to it. So yeah, so So you need to stick with what you think. But you need to handle people diplomatically. And the other thing I learned from him was that you got two directors when they come back from location. Very often in a very bad state. They think that their idea for their film hasn't happened.
They've got some point they want to get across the channel. character didn't turn up or the weather was wrong, the camera man didn't understand it. And it's all disaster, maybe we could just about make something that could be transmitted out of this, but it's not gonna be very good. That's the state they're in, you carry off them, and they come back from vacation. And you have to build them up again. And you have to point out well, actually, although it's not quite the way you planned it, your story is there. It's just can be brought out in different ways. So those are the most important things I learned from Graham, I think, and his his sense of humour, he, he told me that the best reason for being in films is that it's fun. And you shouldn't forget that you shouldn't take it too seriously.
Unknown Speaker 1:05:49
Tell us about Jenny.
Simon Rose 1:05:51
All right. Jerry J. Erica. Yeah, well, man a lot that's back to man alive man alive was, as I say run by x fleets feature list. And in theory, that the reporters were the top jobs, they got top billing on the credits, and I think they got paid more than anybody else. And they were and there were some very good professional reporters, and quite a lot of them were very posh doesn't seem to acquire an admiration for people from sort of minor or aristocracy. Although he was he was not. So we had Jeremy Astor was part of the Astor family and, you know, I think, Angela, who I think was pretty posh, she was, she was Desmond's mistress when I joined the unit. And other people, Jim Douglas, Henry, I think had sort of rural connections. So there was there were these important reporters. But then there were the directors, or bbc co directors, producers, because I think BBC started as a radio organisation, and they sort of never quite got their heads around the film sort of description of jobs. So they call them producers. But anyway, we're director producers. And they were strong characters as well. And they did, despite a sort of certain remit from our lives, and it had to be 15 minutes. They had a lot of control over the films they made. And I could certainly tell what's the mood made what. Actually, those days I could even tell who filmed it because he camera man had its distinctive style. But anyhow, the directors had a very important influence on the film and a lot of freedom. Desmon did give people quite a lot of latitude, which again, is something that has disappeared from television. I remember Jenny, Jenny was always trying to work with our reporter to be like, making more filmic type documentaries more in the style of John sleisenger. And so on. And it wasn't easy, but she managed it a couple of times when reporters go on holidays. It was cool. Our school has nice little film, which is just narrated by the kids in the school and the teachers. I know other other producers are a member, I have a dunk turn was made very socially. Well as at once cynical sound recorders record is Gaudium. Mr. social conscience. He did have social conscience he cared. He was most interested in prisons, and schools, which I think he'd rather equated I think he'd had a pretty bad time at school. But um, you know, did a film called the recidivism, some of you kept going back to prison, which made an important point, which is still not being picked up on people go to prison tend to go back to prison. Why is that? He made a film called a fighting chance about black teenagers in Brixton and about what their chances were in life. And I just it would be fascinating to go back and discover those kids now what did happen to them one was a one was in sixth form, I was hoping to get to your nice, unique thing and the other was a boxer. Perhaps he was cool. Yeah, I do eat another very forward looking film called a right to be different, which looked at people from different cultures, Jewish boy and Muslim. And one of the probably, and intercut them with a bunch of skinheads who was and people criticise the film because they said Look you're giving sustenance to the skinheads in a way you're, you're letting them say their point of view. And his point was that look, if you just listen to their arguments, you can see how ridiculous they are and really, they to their to the skinheads the only sort of possible except, you know, acceptable dickish person was the West Indian because they adapted to British way of life. But the way they taught you could tell that they would never fully accept a West Indian because of the colour of their skin. So it was just a sort of no wind situation. So the film was really asking how much people have a right to be different and that is obviously a very current question.
Ian Noah 1:10:50
Simon Rose 1:10:52
Oh, yeah, another character. James kind of thought. Very different guy Louie's probably only 30 when I knew him. He he seemed like a really cynical help guide that was very witty you it was always making us laugh in the cutting room.
It obviously got some money. He he told me he actually made more money because he also
wrote music and he made more money from his movies. And he did as a producer at the BBC, which probably wasn't a bad way job in those days. He he made ironic, slightly cruel films, but very funny. Remember, what I didn't cut was called Herne Bay is alive to the sound. Herne Bay is alive to the sound of music. And it was just, it was like a little feature film. It was just brilliant. He shot came by Phil may you probably. And he had people rehearsing for an amateur opera. And he had people shaping as they sang. as they as they commuted to work singing and I didn't I just it was hilarious. But it was kind of ticket taking the Mickey which is what he tended to do. He also did a thing about Twinkle twinkle little star, which is reported by John Pitman, who was, to my mind, the best reporter they had. Which was about sort of teenybopper rock, you know, boy band, early boy bands, but young young ones like the Jackson Five at the time, the Jackson Five when they were young, they were quite a lot of imitation bands are sort of 13 year old boys. And it looked at those in a sort of cynical way. Were basically saying, aren't these kids being exploited, which is fair enough. And he did another film called exploitation, which is about sort of soft porn industry at the time with Britain. And that was very funny. I mean, it had some great scenes, and it had it had some great scenes. I can't I can't remember them all. But you know, to him a good scene was if it was finally I remember one scene he wanted to film on that and somehow didn't get around to was the footstep session was footsteps session he called it, which is where you put the sound onto a blue movie, which is that basically people going, Oh, I like the sound. And he was shocked at the people making those noises. He just knew it would be funny. And, and he made very sort of feature type films very close, very well made very nicely shot. And he actually did, actually, his BBC career was probably a bit of a training ground for his future career as he He then went on to make a few soft, soft, soft core movies. And after enjoying his career join into one of the people he interviewed was the widow of the guy who wrote 39 steps by John Buchan, interviewed her and got the film rights is being filmed twice already, but the film rights have sort of fallen into abeyance. And he got the film lights while he was working on my life. And then a few years later, he made a remake of the 39 steps. So those were the some of the characters.
Ian Noah 1:14:44
Very talented at the time,
Simon Rose 1:14:46
yeah, yeah. Talented and varied and with a lot of freedom to to explore things.
Ian Noah 1:14:55
And that was a reflection of the era itself. You mentioned the 60s Was that
Simon Rose 1:14:59
yeah, Oh yeah, well, ever since I, when I first joined CFS in the mid 60s, there was a feeling of a lot of movement, a lot of people. A very varied group of people working in it. And they were really well, social mobility that was partly the aftermath of the war. And lots of people have been in the Army film units and so on, and had stayed in film. So they were people who normally wouldn't have made it the state happened to visit through the ranks or something in the only thing, we're in a position. And other young, listening to a lot of opportunities, I think there was seem to be just a lot of work around really, I mean, I met somebody who worked as a runner on world and action, and they were filming the stones in the concert stones, stones in the park concept by The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park. And he was working as a runner and, you know, the executive producer, wouldn't you like, say, wouldn't you like to direct this bit or something? You know, they will just, they will just chances to be grabbed, if you're in the right, right place at the right time.
Ian Noah 1:16:20
And that despite the unions?
Simon Rose 1:16:22
Well, yeah, the unions didn't discourage that. It's cool. I mean, the unions just made sure that you got paid the meat right money, and there was a correct crew, you know.
But the crews were not unreasonable. Later on. I did some directing. And I think, on the shorts agreement, I think it was to, to, to, to on camera to Ansel to, to production, which, you know, if you're working on film, that is a pretty reasonable request. And they were quite flexible. If you said, Well, there's actually a very simple sequence only needed on sound recordings. It doesn't need in the system. Does anyone mind? They'd say, Fine. It was absolutely fine. I mean, what were there were restrictive practices of what again, later on Margaret Thatcher picked up on was in ITV, where ITV as Sydney Burstein said was, if you've got, if you've got a franchise, whatever it was called, if you got lice, if you've got if you're an area to be the ITV producer of it was a fox, there was word it was something to make money. It was a licence, a licence to make money. Thank you. And so they had, they had all the money and they threw it around a bit. And they had their own local agreements. And I didn't think they said no enough. So that's how you got some really slightly crazy local agreements where you could go into double time on under my agreement, under short, or I think even under features, the maximum pay you could get was double time at weekends and bank holidays, for maybe two and a half that bank holidays. Under the ITP agreement, you could get this thing that if you worked on it could double up and triple up and you know, and that's where you got these stories of somebody stuck in an OB van for a week, being able to buy a house
but I found out I mean, I remember talking to James cannon Clark, when he did his first feature film, I think it was the 39 steps. He said actually the ACC were very reasonable. He said that sparks sparks will actually this is this is a broad daylight seen we don't need any of those, but you still got to go to have full sparks or whatever it was.
Ian Noah 1:19:08
And you mentioned redundancy.
Simon Rose 1:19:13
Earlier Yes, sir. Well, that's coming out, I guess you know, I think yes. Athos I was there from 68 to 73. And in 73 What had happened was that as I said we were under the features agreement that we're getting in a fair amount of money. Without tie, maybe the editors were getting 45 a week. Systems 25 is not bad money in those days. And the BBC were offering weren't offering they told you what they paid. They didn't negotiate DVC had a rate which they gave people and for less an editor assistant and the cutting room and all the services that went with it. They were paying 80 pounds a week I think of that pie. So what's that giving them about 10 pounds and giving equals about 10 pounds a week to go all their overheads, the cost of the equipment and the customer premises. It was ridiculous. So they came to us our shop and said, Well, what can we do about this, and we tried to be flexible. I think we, we delayed the increase. And there was there was some obviously disagreement within a box about what we should do. And that time, I think it was an election for shop steward. And as I was the only person ready to do it, I became the shop steward. And it was, it was a bit difficult, but so some people signed up, I just want to hang on to my job, let's just not take any increase and other people don't. Come on. This is our right. This is what the right says we just get it straight away. And I was trying to sort of find a midway course. But really, it was taken out of my hands because atheists I don't know if they were fed up or they just acted stupidly. What they just sent a demand the BBC a back pay for the last six months of an extra 20 pounds a week for each costume or source or such like that. It's not the BBC just say well, we can find other people or anything and just took the work away. Maybe Maybe Athos just wants to Athos didn't totally go bankrupt. They just turned back into a little company making travelogue films and stopped doing their editing services. So as you know, 15 editors and 15 assistants were redundant. I think Joe Telford was this was organised with the union at the time, he was very good and very helpful. And I think got us a better redundancy settlement than we would have done just as the government is going. And actually, for most of us, it didn't work out bad. I mean, for me, it was probably a good thing because I was then freelance and man alive still wanted me to edit and three of three of us editing wanted us to carry on. So we moved up to Shepherds Bush to sort of part of the BBC shanty town houses and the Golden Road and Shepherds Bush place called Golden studios, and we have three little cutting rooms. And we carried on doing their life I think accountant suggested to me that I become a limited company for tax purposes, which turned out not to be a good idea. But anyhow, that was just the main where I became redundant. A few years later, or, or didn't know not redundant, because obviously I'm self employed. I couldn't be redundant. But when the work dried up, I you know, turned up at labour exchange and they say, well, you're yourself you're employed by yourself. So that was not the right thing. To company. Yeah, so yeah, that's the year I got married 73 I became freelance moved to God and just carried on with my life. And cut some nice films. Game, you know, some good ones for Jenny Berra cliff, either. dunkerton some very good films. Then my life, I guess, came to end. It's been a long running series, but he lies I guess. I mean, it had a sort of a bit of a tail off period where they tried doing it as a live studio show, which was pretty disastrous. And they, I think they did a they did a few spots, spin off things. There was a thing called Summer of 76, which was sort of a few one off films. Mike worked on those
by but suddenly, you know, all the people I knew. He used to give me work. All the directors and producers weren't making films anymore. So it become a quite a tough time. I did I did one thing for the arts department. BBC because I'd always worked at the BBC. I fill people called film organisation managers. And they were amazing. They, the whole of BBC, I think there were six people who organised all that. Filming, sound recording, dubbing mixing, editing, love the poetry contacts, and they just split the whole of the BBC output into six parts. And they did it did it brilliantly. And they knew all the people that we're dealing with, you know, they they'd say, Simon, I think you like this film, can you do it? Or whatever? And they'd say to directors, well, I think this job is best to go to Joe Bloggs. And then you know, they knew where to stand up to people. And they were very nice. And I was always very fairly cheated on my life. Even when I was when I was a freelancer. Because I was working so many weeks. They actually pay me for Christmas. But just you know, just because that's how nice was it? Yeah. And the phones were great. And they later got got rid of under John. They've got anyhow, Davis, he put in that much to kidneys. So he passed my name to where he who did the arts department stuff. And it did normally bus and then I did a very nice film about Lawrence double increase, which is one of the films I'm proudest of, I think it was again, it was the he tried to made it and the way he made it shows the amount of freedom there was, you know, as a fairly experienced producer, director. But he he had the idea that he wanted to make a deal about knowledge, and his his, his childhood, his background, and how to Berto knows how head of the department said yes. So Peter drove down through France picked up a female's caravan he liked France, carried on down to Greece, on a boat. They celebrate on the Greek islands with the devil. The offer a few weeks came back to me, we edited for seven weeks. It got shown to Humphrey Burton once who didn't require any changes. He got transmitted on BBC One peak viewing time just after the news. And it was it was nominated for a BAFTA. You know, and there was about 5000 credits on that film, maybe less, you know, it just shows what could be done, which doesn't happen now. And I think it made better films that way, because you got more individuality. You it wasn't he never went through a committee stage. He never got his bumps ironed out. And that's what I enjoy from a film is is, is seeing the world through somebody's eyes. And if it's gone through a committee whose eyes were looking through.
Ian Noah 1:27:48
And that was the effect.
Simon Rose 1:27:51
Oh, well. He also had escaped effect. Yeah. Yeah, I said we went freelance off to Rome after Athos Pachter. And they'd had to trouble with negotiating with the BBC. They haven't been able to because the BBC didn't recognise the union, Bartlett. Everybody else did. But the BBC didn't. They've got their own staff union called sociation and broadcasting staff, which was a bit puzzling probably. So when we went freelance, we, you know, first thing I thought, I thought, we've got to increase this rate, you know, they're only paying 80 pounds, we want sort of 45 assistants want 25 We've got to hire a cutting room. It's not gonna it's not gonna work. We know, we knew the union couldn't help because BBC wouldn't talk to them. So we, we formed FX Association, freelance editors, editing companies and technicians. And about I didn't manage to get more than half the people freelancing for the BBC, there was probably about 100 people doing it at that time, freelance editors, they always had about 100 staff elitism 100. Freelance. So they had some sort of flexibilities to, you know, for quiet periods of busy periods. So we got power for them to form this sociation. And we said, this isn't an alternative to union, we're all union members, but we just want to be able to negotiate with the BBC. And then we will also good people are John billing and was the secretary and Martin Martin Smith, I think from from DNA was chairman or something. And Martin looked into the BBC Charter and found part BC charter says that they have to pay the going rate for jobs, and they clearly weren't. So we put together a strong argument You know, put all our all our names to it and sent it to the head of editing the BBC evening. He wrote back to us all individually saying I'm sorry that you're not sort of very happy with him to pop in, and we'll have a chat about it. So we all hope that I can say, well, we're not. We are represented by our committee, and we can talk to them. And it worked. And they did and the rate went up quite a lot. And they, from then on, they paid us the staff rate, for an average the experienced BBC staff editor, plus 20% was we were freelance because, you know, we have no pension rights or anything. And I think they may I think later on that he paid or something for holiday credits as well. And that worked and actually as the years went on I think most people left affects but I mean, the committee was still there the plan was and PPC was concerned. They met the committee once a year and did a deal so that worked out right there lots of people benefited from that with probably without even realising there was such a thing. After Guildhall
Ian Noah 1:31:12
School and you went on to work with arms, films etc. Hang on.
Simon Rose 1:31:29
Yeah. Remember where I am now? Yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, as I said, Work was drying up. And it was a year our first child was born, Andrew was born. So it was tough time. I was trying to sign on but not being able to sign on and I heard the job going this company called UMP was made industrial documentaries, what you call corporate videos these days. A friend of mine was working out I went to see the boss guy called Jack Shepard. And they showed me first of all, they took me into the viewing theatre and showed me a film they were proud of their latest productions. And it was an arms arms sales film. And he said you is okay with you. You know? Isn't it good or something and it is a matter it's happening and so get my tongue and I thought okay, well I guess I can I could have to put up with this. And he also said to me okay, because this is a this is an all male Bastion here much simpler life if you don't have women, oh, my God, you know my place. So I stuck it out. And but it got better because although I was doing the sort of corporate videos, films, while I kept contact with BBC and with Dave Ziegler, and so on, and of course, sods law, also got the job he started off when he will work. So I said to you, MP, well, would you like me to bring some BBC work here? And they said, Yeah, fine. So I did. They probably cleaned up the profit plenty. I mean, at least I had a full time permanent job. And I was doing films I liked I wasn't doing my lives anymore that it stopped. I was doing lots of the science department. At that time, that price to sign the Campbell Jones is a really nice guy and we got on and he also I think the payments favourite for a bit but I noticed the BBC producers were changing somewhat some of the old guard dying off or leaving either Duncan Turner left to go farm farm site, cider apples, forest at Dean Jenny Barrett traffic set up her own company, but she had her own editor. So anyhow, there was a new lot of young graduate they had the BBC and a scheme for graduates to enter BBC. And it struck me the difference not an experience made basically I suppose, and the lack of not so much Phil experienced that worldly experience of probably a lack of confidence that some of the other people did, not wanting to not wanting to stand up to their superiors. And I mean, very often we get the director who just the thing another thing about BBC was that it was all the producers. But as far as I know, all of them said practically More than perhaps and from the old guard who come out of the Army ROTC reached Oxbridge graduates. I mean, it was that was a world class society. It is a camera man might have done some lesser degree, I think these to be jokes, even tea ladies had to have a degree to be safe. Anyhow, Medusa rocks these are these young students were sort of filling the penthouse bar and talking about their ideas. And basically there are ideas where they're where their pieces where their final pieces, and they then went and made that into a film. Sometimes not with a lot of visual imagination. And, and then carried on. So I thought the quality went down somewhat certainly the feeling of sight, some independence and Maverick figures disappeared. So that was fine. And I worked there for quite a few years. And I will skip the next bit anyhow. Then alright. I eventually got promoted. They let me direct a few bits. And then I directed Yeah, I directed some quite interesting films, I directed a nice little film about cute girl, they were rebuilding the timber house and
and they just wanted a little felt for the COI about how many gallons of paint it took or whatever. But I actually went down to Cuba and research the history of the temporary house. And it was very interesting the reasons it was built the plans that were put there, the holes of politics of the thing, and then I found out from the architect, you know why it's deteriorated? What was wrong with the original design and what they were doing to pretty right. So it's a reasonable little film. And our BBC also had the Ford contract at the time, which was really good contract to have. And I, I edited one of those, then I chose to direct one. So I directed the film for the Ford, Sierra. So that takes you back. And 13 I think there were several launch films, but this was the version for the dealers or something. And it's a half hour film, and he had a budget of 70,000 quid, which was in you know, in the late 70s was a pretty good budget. So I got to play with all the equipment, we had snow commands that he had cranes and everything you could think of, and had quite a lot of fun. The message was pretty obvious. It was interesting. I worked with you know, with a very good camera man and just experimented with what he could do. So that was all going fine. And they actually I think I won a prize, little prize for some short film competition. So they said to me, Well, would you like to become a permanent film director, here's three of them. Two of them, three of them. So I I am I sort of handed in my splice. Kit toner is my slicer. It's written backstories this slicer, Italian slicer. And I first come across it back at TFS where it was very, very new gizmo. You can with it, you basically put your film in over his pockets, he cut the picture there and you cut the sound there so as to give you a diagonal cut. So right click, and you put your tape over here over the two ends of film, and you push it down and you squeeze it and that cuts off trims the tape and punches. sprocket holes in your tape is brilliant. A brilliant design which replaced the ultimate splices which is very hard with cement spies to actually take it apart and you wanted to stop the shots around to do that because you are liable to lose a frame every time you You did it. And when I first went to CFS, the magnetic cutting magnetic sound was done with a pair of scissors and a little blocks old onto them with a sprocket hole from that. And that was how they that was how they cut the sound. So anyhow, this splice. Certainly well. This is a later model. They've added various gizmos to it we should get make it over complicated like these, these things here. I've never really fathom what they're for. But I think it's a you could edit upside down. I can't quite see the point of that. So it's all over design by this stage, which I think is something that happens tomorrow. A lot of things. And so I had it in my slicer and moved into an office. One of the first thing jobs I was given was to sort of do a good news newsletter for circulating to clients about what was what good things were going on, at UNLV. And in fact, good things weren't going on at UMP. I'd heard rumours I'd sent off the film without smiles for some friends of it. And I said, well, sorry, I'll tell you this for free. We can't at the moment. And what had happened, the old chap, Jack Shepherd died a year previous and had been taken over by a sort of supposedly Wizkid businessman who was also born again, Christian. And he blessed blessed the company when he arrived. And then several bad signs. I remember when he arrived, he also he also invited us all into meeting one by one so he could say hello, so hello, Simon, what's your name? Are you married to Daddy, daddy, nice to meet you. Thanks very much. And the next day, I've got another call to go and see him I was a bit odd. He said, Hello, I'm sorry, what's your name? I said, we've been through this. So that was the kind of guy he was. And within a year, he ran up into the ground.
So once again, I was redundant. The only work I could see was advertised on Union. She was up in Grenada up in there, well up in Manchester. It was called granade. Well, that wasn't actually directed to Grenada. It was again for a company that service Grenada. So I went up and spent a few months in Manchester. Which is interesting. I mean, if I'd been single, it would have been a great way to discover the country really, some people did that. They freelanced around to local, different local it these stations, getting paid very well, sort of discovering the country and generally working on local magazine programmes. So you sort of learn to learn it both ways. But as I wasn't single, it was a bit tough being away from around in the kids and travelling back just the weekends. But there was the first and last time I ever got my union card checked. Because Can I have really strong union shop. And I've been there, I've been at this company get what they were called. They were they weren't part of Grenada, there was down the road. And several customers working away. And I got a phone call from the Grenada shop steward say hi, I get the you're working up here. And where were you based? I said, Well, I'm based in London. And she said, Well, you know, how much are you getting paid? What expenses? You'd getting paid? That sort of thing. When I told him she said, Well, you're you're not being paid enough expenses. She told me what the figures should be. She said you should be getting first class rail fares. And I went and told the boss that and he said, fair enough. So you know, next next paid packet, I got an immediate sort of pretty hefty, hefty increase. So I mean, thanks, thanks to the AC T. And
oh, well, from the basis of that, I mean, I worked up there for a few months doing local magazine stuff. And then And then I heard there was some work because the job going back in London. So I moved back to London. And on the basis of that Granada job, just two or three months, I've actually accumulated enough money because I've been living on expenses and all my wages are just gone to the bank. So I'd accumulated that money to buy a secondhand steam back. And a friend of mine who'd be my system, back at Athos years previously, it met up meeting up regularly. And we both been complaining about the bad side of being a freelance film editor was that your editing room was never quite the way you would like it. There was never a Kotor. He wanted the film racks never quite held the CANS properly. The filming, you know you tripped over things like that little things that if you are going to be there for a while you'd fix that position learning over there for six weeks at a time. You didn't fix you never working in the perfect environment. And half the time of course the room didn't have a window and so we said we're going to do something about this. So started talking about setting up our own little editing company. And and eventually after looking around looking at premises and stuff we, we did. He sets up tanggram post production, which lasted from hang on my jumping ahead. No, that's really nice last year from 85 to 2013. That's pretty good run. And we bought various bits of so I kind of a drink
Yeah, so I have my second hand Steenbeck thoughts got one, we carry them up three flights of stone floors and stone stairs in Broadway Street. It wasn't easy. And set up Tangra we also made quite a lot of equipment ourselves. I mean, for instance, I made a I made a horse, which you put on your bench and you slop your picture in there and your soundtracks there and a couple of rolls of spacing and, and it works fine. And it was better. It's better than the metal ones, which were the standards of issue horses because the metal ones rattled and the noisy. And this is this looks nice as well, I made it out of beach. And we also made our own benches. And we did them at home, in our sheds, and then augment where we were amazed when we got them to tangle that we both chosen the same colour, sage green for mica to cover. So that became the sort of company colour. We chose tangrams the name because it was a lot of found it on the back of a Tangerine Dream album. And it turns out it's it's a Chinese puzzle make different shapes. It's so it's, it had a sort of inbuilt logo, because it's got these different triangles and squares that fit together. They also fail. We also thought it was a bit like editing, but you've got a jumble of odd shapes and you're trying to fit them neatly together. So that's Tangra for where am I? Well, this sounds more just Oh yeah, that was that was the period I was before I formed Tangra Simon's ball was an interesting film. It was about the Falklands War is about Simon West, who was the famous casualty of that war, very badly burned. And
it was, it was an interesting lesson to me in how to how to structure a film How to try and sway an audience or take an audience with you onto a difficult subject. Because it was Simon's wall was made, I think was transmitted almost exactly after one year after the Falklands War, which was a very popular war. I mean, it got Margaret Thatcher back into office. And there was hardly any questioning of it. We did want to question it in the way I think probably I wanted to question it more than the producer. But we did want to raise some questions. And we and we knew if we set out from the start by by saying that we're making that clear that we wouldn't take the audience with us. So it's, and it wouldn't. And it's it's a very it's a it's a it's not anti war film. He can't leave assignment. Western isn't anti war. It was his story. And it was all it was all voiced by him. As interesting. Some critics later said, what it must have been objective because there was no commentary, which of course is not true at all. It was It wasn't at all objective. And to some extent, maybe we were used on Western I think he later use the BBC. Anyhow. So we started off with a scene of the ships leaving dock to close the folder is very triumphal, seeing that union, Jack's waving, and you hear Simon Western saying I didn't know what it was going to be like I didn't know what to expect or something like that. And then you just follow and then you discover you follow what happened to him. He never criticised the war. It's ironic. I mean, he says I signed on I signed on the dotted line. I don't, I don't regret that at least I don't think I regret it. And then later on, but he's he so badly injured, he gets invalidated out of the army. And that to him is the biggest tragedy because he just ducked his job so much. And I thought, that was an interesting idea. And I think at least the film does show how war can alter people's lives. If nothing else, it may or may not be asked specifically about the fulcrums COVID, certainly about war.
Ian Noah 1:50:40
And he went on after the war, film, Simon's war, to fight battles, but in Tangra, and he said it started well, channel four,
Simon Rose 1:50:52
oh, yeah, we started getting channel forward. It was, it was great fun, start with getting funding the operative word. They were offering some very interesting commissions, and the commissioners, the cell phone was set up as an alternative to the existing channels. And they took that remit sort of seriously. And they actually they're commissioning editors were generally thought from outside the industry. And we're just an interesting bunch of people reading. And once they commissioned the film, that was it, they left you to get on with it. So very often, they come into the viewing the probably the only one giving. And they'd say, Well, thanks very much for letting me see the film. Their job had been done, they'd approve the script, they'd approve the budget. immense amount of freedom. And another nice thing about China for that time, was that unlike DVC, they did recognise the Union. In fact, they always checked the budget that people were getting paid the union rate for the job, properly crude.
Gradually, that changed Channel Four, it became I mean, I partly was the originally they got the portion of the ITV money from advertising. And then because they were doing so well on getting better viewing figures than they expected, they thought, okay, we can start selling our own advertising, then, of course, commercial pressures started coming in. And over the years, audiences diminished, they became more desperate. And their idea or turn it is now to shock. Their idea of alternate is something with an alternate journalistic story is not an alternate way of making a documentary. In fact, it's become totally uniform, I would say, the way they make the way they make their documentaries, there's very little leeway in you almost always have to start with a one minute sequence. That's like, a menu of what you're going to get for the next hour. So the American Yeah, is come from America. And they they think that's what attracts viewers. I don't how much research has been done into that. To me, if I see a minute the film that tells me everything a film is going to be about I think like I understand it, I don't want to see the next rest. Even if there's some truth in it, I think it's I think it's just very sad. I think that chamfer was gone that way. And still
Ian Noah 1:54:03
you also want mentioned
Simon Rose 1:54:08
Yeah, well, of course, things are happening in those in the 90s. Things were happening with dBc as well. But John Berta, being appointed Director General. He brought in a whole new way new approach to documentary he was most interested in film. Luckily, he wasn't that interested in documentaries. So to some extent, it got away without the full treatment. But there was there was some of that coming in. I mean, I knew people who worked under burden London Weekend come from and they told me awful stories about his his thesis with a mission to explain. He said they want to know we don't want all these people making Making personal stories about individuals. What we've got to do is explain to the audience what's behind this item. So you then have so the director, researcher, they had to go and research it, very thoroughly work out what the thesis exactly of the programme was. And you then went and found people to interview who fitted into that thesis. And if they didn't fit into it, they just got bullied and bullied until eventually they said what they were supposed to say. I think it was a dreadful were like Phil's there was a few of them later carried on into channel four. So that was, that was the birth way. And the other big thing about the reorganisation the BBC was, there's a lot of pressure from the Tory government, that BBC ought to be privatised. So the BBC was obviously scared. And there was also was the threat of reducing the licence fee. So but you had to do something to modify that. And he brought in the market economy to the BBC, which is sort of the next best thing to privatisation when you get more department selling stuff to another department. So you bring in a whole new layer of bureaucracy. For me, personally, for instance, I thought I wanted a piece of music, I used to be able to ring up somebody in the gramophone libraries, rather quickly called it and say, look, I've got this sequence here, more than what's in the music to think. And then they knew their music, he really didn't know anything inside out. And then the market economy came in, I could no longer ring up his personal life being you what was Well, I had to fill in a form that went to my health department, they sent to the music department, head of department, and then passed it on to the person and of course, everything got lost in translation. And you know, that the person ordering it was getting paid, and the person selling was getting paid even. They even sort of sold themselves, they did a marketing marketing thing to themselves. And they tried marketing themselves outside the BBC as well. It was just all very sort of based on a commercial ideal that was supposed to somehow be more efficient, and he was far less efficient. And again, I think during that time, they called it producers choice, it was actually the opposite of producers choice It was production managers choice if anything produces loss, more power. There's a shine
Ian Noah 1:57:47
with entangle, you're able to watch what was going on at the BBC time whilst being independent you can access them well, it
Simon Rose 1:57:53
was still totally dependent on me was still basically freelance editors, we just happen to form a partnership. I mean, when we set up we tend to think well, we could become an editing facility and online facility and probably we, you know, be a rich man Have you had lots of people doing that at the time. And it was a time of change to tape. So lots of people were setting up tape editing facilities, which was a non linear linear time which was a way of making money. But we would have become managers of a facility we and we wanted to get to this that's what we loved. So we decided just carry on being editors. Basically just give ourselves and your name. I mean, it's funny when we set up we put we were just freelancers, we gave ourselves a letter hitting cool Tangra sensitive it's amazing when you do that people suddenly become something called tantrum has no there's no legal basis to it Phil
and, yeah, carried on for years like that. I mean, it's to this day, it's still going after I've left now, but it's still the only old style cutting rooms really. Three customers run by the editors themselves with a nice atmosphere you know, and some quirky pictures on the wall and you've got some flying ducks on the wall. That's where the nose is. It just is not the sort of carpet up the walls kind of stuff you get in facilities houses, and the sort of sweets on reception desk. So when did
Ian Noah 1:59:40
you get involved in the tape editing revolution?
Simon Rose 1:59:43
Yes. Yeah, that was a short nightmare. Yeah, I guess in the Yeah, in the 90s. Early 90s Was it tape became thing it was cheaper films becoming very expensive. 100 foot roll 100 foot magazine have a film to shoot and processes 100 quid will never last 10 minutes. So it got you're getting into 10s of 1000s just in film stock tissue documentary series. So tape obviously was obviously attractive. The subways with tape. Trouble with tape was you can't edit it. It's it's linear. On a piece of film, you can take a shot there, say, I've got taken these don't feel it angles sort of thing. But if there hasn't moved it along, take if you want to take this shot out to the end or put it in the middle, you have to copy the whole thing off from the middle. And during the editing process, she goes through a lot of edits, if you're if you're very serious about getting the ideal structure, he might want to get to sort of 30 different edits before you got the idea of one with tape. If you're editing on VHS, or imagine offline tape, which is what you did. After about eight generations, you could hardly see the picture. So you gave up and you know, you say all this we'll have to do which is why I think if you look at the history of editing, editing and TV documentaries, and so if anybody cares to look at it over the years, there's a real dip in the in the 80s and 90s of the quality of editing and also this tremendous upsurge in special effects to try and disguise the fact that structuring working so you get all these fancy little dissolves and things you know Jesse stuff, just to try and distract the audience. That's my ex mike doesn't view obviously, all of this is my personal view and not holding History Project accountable. So luckily for me, it didn't last as long as I have, I had to film longer than most people did. I was still cutting horizons which stuck with film for a long time. All the magazine type programmes were to tell you and I was doing stuff with some American channels like National Geographic, and they were so concerned about the lifespan of the thing, which and they were right that they insisted on singing a film longer than most
and then I got nonlinear sooner than most I think. We see once it came out we started looking at
it quite a few alternative systems around to start with Avi was one of the first but there was also a we got something called deviation which some people call Doug Fisher but actually it wasn't bad Lightworks like wasn't the other famous British one. There was another British one as well.
Ian Noah 2:03:01
Simon Rose 2:03:04
don't hear much these days that we got division, which I don't think is still going it was I think it was manufactured by Bell and Howell in the States. It was a very basic bit of computer setup. So I think it was you know, DOS operating system and sort of 64 bits of memory you know, it was it was like a library computer you press wherefore and after input but it did what you wanted. And it did some things that avid didn't catch up with for years later years on Avid you couldn't put just burning boats in timecode if you wanted to unlock our viewing copy you even years later you still had to render effect division had it from the start yes press the button the burden timecode you know so some things it was it was good but it didn't have you ever heard so we we bought a couple of DVDs obviously it was even though it was cheaper than happy but it was still quite a lot of money but the memory of in those days I think it cost about 1000 pounds of gigabyte when we bought it and we had we wanted we wanted 16 or 18 gauge machine because I think that wasn't just the memory and that wasn't a lot of memory really that wouldn't hold that much material you had to be a bit selective about what you digitised ironically, I think we advertise it to be say we got added or we we advertise we got nonlinear I think some robbers must assumed must assume that got added. We were really hot property at that time. So one morning we arrived at tanggram The door dings dove and in the visions of gone it's very embarrassing to have that moment we have to bring up the insurance company but they did cover it. Rubber Stamp get quite what they wanted. Didn't realise it wasn't having. Apparently they were being exported to Russia at the time. And something was it was a big thing. They were actually following the AVID delivery vans around the scene where they win. Yeah, so changed the nonlinear. I mean, I still miss filmed in ways. It's not as it's not as tactile I don't feel like a craftsman anymore. I used to. I used to do a few tricks on film that were quite dangerous. I used to put a bob in a film on my thumb and rewind to the high speed onto the Steenbeck. You know, just to impress people. I mean, that was dangerous. I, you know, now I'm just another keyboard operator, in the old days, director came into the cutting room, they wouldn't really there, try and change your car because they wouldn't really know how to notice all Mystique to it. Sometimes we used to say to them. Oh, yeah, we tried your idea. It didn't work. Because there's no proof because you've only ever got one version of the cutting copy. That's it. It's It's the it's the car needs to take your word for it nowadays, you know, on average. So what can I see the last version? I see what you said that there's a slight loss of power as well. But also, it's the it's the it's the thing that there was Mystique, which is now gone. And I think directors these days think well, the old days directors used to think I quite like to admit that, but I can't. And now directors think I could do that. But I don't want to let somebody else do it. Not always writing code, I mean, still, the basic editing skills are still necessary. The actual film grammar hasn't changed, but it's just the appearance of it because it's just clicking a mouse clicking a mouse and
Ian Noah 2:07:06
whatever, as your approach to film to editing itself, conceptually changed because in the past, you knew and understood you had the different strips and bins and you're looking through the viewfinder, whereas now in particular, with multi camera shoots, you have all kinds of screens available simultaneously different tracks or simultaneously available, you've got so much information and control, to change your entire approach to the way you visualise and edit or the way visualising
Simon Rose 2:07:33
and not at all. Actually, I look at the timeline on the Avid, I'm looking at a film in a film, synchronised and I think if I take that shot out there, move it there, that's the total length is still the same. So it's going to stay in sync. So I think of it as chunks of film. I mean, the only difference is about your vote on a pixie if I wanted to go fast, so I just widen the handle faster. Now I have to sort of press the button twice for something you know. And that's what I don't like it's all it's now become all visual, it's all looking at the screen. So you're not just looking at the film, you're using a screen to decide what to do was on film, you only looked at the screen to look at the picture. And everything else was physical, you could almost do it with you could do it with your eyes shut. I mean, I could I could use this force with my eyes.
But no, the approach is still the same. My approach has always been I like to view the rushes first with the director, I think that's invaluable. Okay, these days, there's a lot of pressure not to do that, because legacy schedules are getting shorter and lighter. And we can't do that just start cutting. And I've so far I've always managed to but I'm retired now. So I suppose I have always managed to persuade directors, it is well worthwhile looking at it all together, even if you double speed or triple speed. So just so they can tell you what they thought at the time of shooting. And you could give your immediate initial reaction because you're the first audience and something they thought might be obvious isn't obvious. And other things they might thought were just too obvious, actually very interesting. And by discussing that, and then you know, you go nice that you go for a pint, which I traditionalized to maintain a load nearly everybody else has not. But I mean, all those years of freelancing will always everybody always went to the pub, all through the 80s 90s it was the blue posts in a very extreme market, rightfully always seem to be there. He was a great a great guy was teed you if you're feeling bad, and you tell a few jokes, talk about food, one of the robots or other races but you'd also talk about what films would go what was being produced or being directed who was doing what All assistants will go in there and find jobs, home assistant jobs. It was a job exchange as well as everything else as far as social plays place to let off steam about the directors. The directors were invited to like a good time. So my Oh, yes. So back to the viewings. Yeah, you got you watch it for a week. And then you and then you have a plan. You write out a plan, and then you start editing. And then I say, right, we'll go away for a few days now. You know, just get it. You need when you come back and watch this film, you need a fresh out, you don't you don't want to get involved with the nitty gritty. So I just put together a rough cut this as fast as I can. Usually very rough. I work the systems have been horrified and said, How can you show it to anybody. So now I think you don't know how to edit. It's got jump cuts everywhere. And I said, Well, that's not the point. At the moment. The point is to work out the basic storyline of the essence. And then obviously, there's some time frame you have lots of users are active and they do this because they like this. They don't like and when eventually you get to Vika, I always like leaving it quite rough until Franca so people can really notice the difference. Ah, well, magic change
Ian Noah 2:11:22
do you actually miss the social and editing side that the professional side?
Simon Rose 2:11:28
Yeah, I do. But I I missed it before it. Troy left it early. Because Ray 40 died. I can't record early 90s. And he is he he was my friend at from Athos tights on young you know, I knew him. I knew him before I met my wife. I mean, so we went back a long way. And so it wasn't a segment outbreak. But it also was he was the centre of that social life. And he posted Well, lots of editors weren't and then they got to do with where I am sure. But they gradually started to drift away, it became less acceptable to go to have announcement or maybe a bit older now. And I stuck to it. I mean, actually, I was found directors were really pleased when I said we're going to lunch now but they always they came into the customers expecting to have to work through you know, and they suddenly released them he said know that some of our best work was actually done in the pub in a more relaxed atmosphere. You just take a different view of you just discuss what the rushes you've seen and say wow, that is a we could do that. You know, some of the best stuff I've cut has been after lunch after a couple of beers a bit more relaxed, having adequate discussion about the time and then go for it without any inhibitions
Ian Noah 2:13:09
and in terms of the future of the profession now, I do still get involved in mentoring. What's happening?
Simon Rose 2:13:19
I'd like I'd like to I did get a little job London Film School man. Well doing critiquing. I really enjoyed that. I took the office me some more
Ian Noah 2:13:36
when you're watching films and television programmes Now do you see standards still developing new techniques being developed? Or do you just see a general decline in quality?
Simon Rose 2:13:49
No, it's not the general decline. Camera work I would say has declined. BBC used to employ some brilliant gamma men and there were some brilliant freelance cameramen around as well. I mentioned Phil Knight who is John owls many good camera man or a man who I could look at TV screen even when it was 405 And I'd say that was shot by seven so and the credits would come up and sure enough it was just they had they were able to pop do something with the lights and the emotion that was just special to them and also just consummate technicians operators. I mean the absolute best is Barry Ackroyd and once you work Barry Ackroyd I don't think any other camera book can really exciting much. I worked on a lot of jobs with him. And he's the absolute handheld camera. Not only in terms of skill, I mean, I did a film with him, he shot up high up in the Andes, looking for the bones of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And they were digging down deep. In the grave nails about 10 foot deep, it's pitch black at the bottom. And at the top, you know, he was he was shutting down to about 32 or something. So he was having to pull the amazing amount of stops, because, and he was following these little bones coming up, handheld, and he was tight in on them, you know, they were they were no big than this. He was handheld, following them putting stock out putting focus. Incredible, incredible. But he also the other thing was that he listened. And, you know, that's not enough cameramen do. He listened to what people were saying all the time, he knew when to pan off and forget the reaction shots. Some people who didn't get reaction shots afterwards are very easy to do, let's get a few noddy's. And you never get a convincing audio that way because people are thinking what they were thinking at the time. No, but always get the cutaways within within the interview. And it's often more interesting to look at the person listening than it is a person talking. And I keep telling directors this I don't always listen to this at least half the time, he should be on the other person. I remember very short film in Russia about the Russian cosmonauts. And it's a story about the man behind the whole Russian cosmonaut programme called karate off. He was kept secret from the Russians because they thought they wanted to put across the whole trial for their winning space race in the early days, the first booknet the first man in space plus women in space, first organ space label that was trial for the socialist system as far as propaganda. In fact, it was his trial, and he'd actually had to persuade Khrushchev to let him use this. This rocket he decided to make to deliver IBM as he had to persuade him to let him for the Sputnik and having a Khrushchev so it made worldwide headlines. He said, What else can you do? The deputy Spence some time in the gulag, this guy called Claudia. So incredible story. Anyhow, back to back to Barry Ackroyd, he's filming this quantity of widow and daughter. And I think they're discussing obviously, it's all in Russian. Barry doesn't speak Russian. They're discussing the time that the police came and took Korea off to the cooler I think it's the daughter talking at the time, berries on her face, and then he hands down her arm and discovers their hands together on a desk. And then at that time, I can't make these out words but he just fitted the words it's like he had a sixth sense that what was being said was then she says, uh, my mother at the time and you know, and if he tells back up to the mother's face listening, you know, he was just perfect. So come and work well Mary was around for a long time but housing features obviously but generally the level of camerawork I mean generally director cameramen you can't do everything I don't believe in multi skilling is these giving, you just can't be as good as great editing.
Editing I think is pretty good. Still, I don't like it was I don't like the style as often as insistence on files cutting or deliberately using sort of wobbly shots just to add a bit of excitement, which is to me is not the way to create excitement. There are other ways without just using such a crude method. What else sound sound went through a bit of a slump after film after they stopped shooting film, towards the end of the shooting on law was the film and the 90s Lots of people were shooting stereo they use it they were using MLS recording were often a man then chose to tape and suddenly there wasn't stereo anymore. And then it's only just coming back now. Now it's getting some some documentaries on nonlinear getting quite sophisticated. You've actually gone back to a clapper board system more or less or that certainly a timecode which is less reliable and you can think that clever will and you know there are sound recordings couldn't record eight channels at once, which is very good and it can then make up everybody separately, if you've got time to then translate or mixing.
Ian Noah 2:20:07
And what about things like pacing? And you notice that anything that's different about the rhythm or pacing of editing, the edits are shorter?
Simon Rose 2:20:15
Yeah, I think I think there is this general assumption that people got peddle shorter attention spans. Okay, it's the same as this thing of always having to have a minute beginning that tells you what the film is all about. It's the same principle. I don't know. I'm not convinced by it. I mean, feature films don't use that. Some some feature films can be quite slow paced, and apparently are quite popular. And some of them are shown on television and presumably quite popular. So how about how the rules suddenly change? For documentaries? I don't know.
Ian Noah 2:20:55
And what's your kind of overall impression of your career? Or would you how would you sum it up?
Simon Rose 2:21:06
I think I was pretty lucky. I do regret I didn't get to cut more drama. So I kept one or two little dramas. But I think I could have done it. Well, I know, I've actually seen applications had a chance to watch. Watch feature ICs. And I've seen the finished feature. Arrogant as I am, I think I could have cut that better. But I'm not sure I wouldn't want to spend all my life doing that apart from money. Well, if I kept busy, I was filled with features, you might get very well paid. But you can have big gaps between jobs. But I don't think I would have learned so much I don't think would have been so interesting. Because I'll documentaries, you're not just learning about editing, which is a, there's a lot to learn and editing took me quite a few years. And I always used to try and experiment. Why still do occasionally, you know, I still do try and try something new for me on each job. You know, I mean, I know everything's been done before by somebody. But I like to set myself the challenge of trying something different. So there's a lot to learn about editing. And then on documentaries, there's always a new subject every six or seven weeks, you're learning a bit about something and you're learning a bit more than the audience that seven weeks is long enough to actually get into it. Well, the Russian Space thing I actually had about six months on that was a three part series. It's a CO production, I think, I think, longer than what an hour or certainly more than 15 minutes. So it was a very long schedule. And I was actually doing some research as well. So that director David de Gama was in Russia, just at the beginning of class, and I was managing to get film out of the Russians, when they were late to selling this, they didn't understand the concept of copyright. They just said, Well, how do we know we gotta you gotta pay copyright here. So is it gotta fill we will X you know somebody does for. So he was saying that these bits of film that the Russians have filed away. And although a lot of it have been censored, they used to film everything on both axes. But then they censored it in different ways at different times, depending on who's in power. So for instance, Eureka, guardians, returning tribe from his first flight base. There was one of the earlier versions of their films didn't show qualia for tours, I serve as he was, he was an invisible man, he was didn't exist. They showed during walking up the red carpet, and, and, you know, in Red Square as and shaking hands with Khrushchev. And then we found in the Brezhnev era, Khrushchev didn't exist anymore. But karate is by this time as he was dead now been allowed back into history. So we, you know, and I was I was watching this Well, David was still in Russia. And I think this is incredible. And I could actually stick it back together and tell, tell the whole story. So that was that was very interesting. You know, and I learned the difference between stocks and fossils and everything, you know, became the ball on Russian Space Programme, forgotten of it out, but you remember more of it than probably the average viewer does.
Ian Noah 2:24:36
And of course, living through them. Very exciting period working through the 60s, as you said, the 70s 80s right up into the nonlinear age. It's extraordinary way of seeing the developments in television, seeing the developments in film, and in society.
Simon Rose 2:24:53
Yeah, I'm sorry if I've sounded rather negative, I think on the whole is it negative I don't think is In that way, it's a very I think a great opportunities at the time of Peter Watkins, the whole world seemed oyster, he just done something extraordinary. They think of something extraordinary. And other people could do other different extraordinary things. I'm not saying they should, will make films like The The walk is, I'm not showing all peoples the word without, without actors. But it opened up the possibility just to try things out, experiment, and engage with the audience in a much more direct way. And with the participants, that's what he did. He was got the participants totally involved in their in their project. I mean, he's still been working out quite recently, he did a thing about the French communes. And in that he got people got, he advertised what he was doing. And he got people who were sympathetic to the communes and sympathetic to the people who put down the communes, and he used them as actors. But the other thing he did was he made it as though it was being He also looked at the seeds, he sort of imagined that they were film crews at that time making it and he imagined the bias of the film crews and what they would do is very sophisticated way of making the audience look at documentaries and question them. And another technique, he uses it very often people will just turn and look at the camera. And they'll just stare at it for a minute. And that makes you think I actually got some connection with this person. I'm not just an interesting lawyer. I he could human being he's a human being. And maybe I shouldn't just be watching it as it passively for you. Perhaps I should be doing something about it, but I should be trying to change the system. So that kind of thing doesn't happen again in Colorado, or Oregon. So that was that was incredible. And but I think it could have been explored in other ways by different people. And it wasn't I think it's showing the only hope for the future is the is the internet and YouTube and so hopefully when people get bored with posting funny pictures of pets, they'll pick the more interesting things to do.
Ian Noah 2:27:34
Thank you very much. has been a pleasure talking with you. Thank
Simon Rose 2:27:36
you I was a bit Wofully
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