Use of time in the core of successful programme making

3 april, 2018

When I arrived in Dhaka to work with Maasranga TV’s film editors I was looking forward to making use of a wonderful quote by Abraham Lincoln concerning time pressured work. As it happened there were more fundamental things to deal with. I was plunged into the early stages of the edit of Maasranga’s first ever long form investigative documentary.

It didn’t take me long to realise that Mahafujul Hasan Sajib, the programme’s film editor is both highly skilled and experienced. But Sajib needed something more than the benefit of Lincoln’s quote, he simply needed the time and space to do his job. This needed to be understood and accepted by the entire production team and management.

The film editor’s role would have to be elevated. They would need to be involved earlier in the production process, they would need more time to work on a specific project rather than several at the same time and they would need to have a greater input into the management of their time.

Later in the week I was asked to address all 17 of Maasranga’s editors – surely, I would use my quote now...but no, the discussion centred on raising the awareness of editing and that if a TV station wanted to make great TV it would have to put editors at the heart of the process.

Meanwhile in the short time available Sajib, with the support of the production team, managed to secure enough time to himself to massively advance the edit.
On the final day I was interviewed by Maasranga TV, my quote was far from my mind by now, however, I don’t think Maasranga are in any doubt about the necessity of unleashing the full potential of their editors in order to create captivating TV.

My final act was to watch Sajib’s 29 minute cut with the production team. It was a great cut and needed only minor adjustments from the rest of the team. In a short space of time a production team had grasped the essentials of a new way of working and had actually seen the benefits of making the most out of post production.
And now, at last, that quote from Abraham Lincoln, ‘’Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.’’

This is relevant to so many jobs in TV but particularly to editing, where it is crucial to have enough time to familiarise yourself with the material and the story before the first cut is made.

Andy Kemp
Freelance Film Editor
Governor, Guild of British Film and Television Editors

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