Editing trainee Mags on her placement and mentorship

Editing trainee Mags on her placement and mentorship
2021 Grierson DocLab In Focus: Editing trainee, Mags Cartaxo.

When all this began, I was afraid to make the jump from my cozy permanent contract in a post house to a three-month placement. Never would I have guessed the impact and doors it would open for me in the future. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have been that fearful because The Grierson Trust, Netflix, and the people that worked on this project with me had my back.

Coming from a post house as an Edit Assistant, I had the technical background aspect covered for my placement, thus I managed to tackle the sync maps, groups, exports, and so on with ease. What truly changed and shaped this entire experience for me was the opportunity to be involved in the creative side of things. 

I was working alongside the incredible and highly experienced editor, Joby Gee, who welcomed my opinions and would take them into account when shaping the story. I would later see my suggestions affect the cut and that made the whole experience well in itself just worthwhile. Joby also trusted my judgement and allowed me to create cutdowns from over 100 hours of rushes, that he would then work from to edit this feature documentary. He would also push for me to be in the meetings he had with the director, Charlie, and would call out for my thoughts. Those meetings were pivotal for me to see how the documentary would later be shaped. We also sat side by side where I could shadow Joby’s work and learn from him. We had so many chats about the direction where the story was going and how to improve it.

It was truly an exceptional experience, but I am acutely aware that what made it so, beyond the story, was Joby’s role in all of this. He wanted to see me edit and grow in the edit. So, he gave me the opportunity to edit several times and work from his feedback. In this placement, I found my mentor and a very good friend - I would not have traded it for the world.

Even though Trekkie Gee played a pivotal role in my placement, I can’t shy away from the rest of the team. They truly made me feel I had an important and unique role to play in this documentary. Charlie, the director, watched my cuts - gave me feedback, allowed me to join the conversation about the shaping of the story (and to my surprise - he would respect my opinions and explain why certain directions were being taken when I disagreed. I learned a lot from that and for which I am grateful). Alex, the Line Producer, would be open to any workflow change/suggestion and was extremely helpful on several fronts. I was lucky enough to have a couple of members of Production sit with me and approach the cut from other perspectives (from either legal, editorial, or archive-related points of view). It was refreshing to have Faye, Jess and Louella sit next to me and share their thoughts about the story and experiences from working on the production side of things. 

What started as a three-month placement ended up on a nine-month voyage. The Post schedule kept getting extended and Netflix allowed me to see it all through and be a part of it. I am incredibly privileged to have been with this project from the very beginning of prepping the project for Joby to delivering the Picture Lock Cut to the post house.  

I feel deeply humbled and honoured to have known the subjects of our film and shaping this story played a riveting role in my life. I feel all my next projects might pale in comparison to this wild ride.

This scheme and placement changed my life. It opened so many doors and opportunities for me that I wouldn’t have had any other way.  I met incredible people, learned a lot about editing and telling stories, and even got a BFE nomination for the Michael Johns Award for Best Outstanding Assistant Editor 2022.

None of this would ever have happened if I wasn’t surrounded by these amazing people. I need to thank them for their support, guidance, and teamwork. So thank you, Joby Gee, Yen Yau, Jane Callaghan, Hannah Brown, Claire Fergunson, Matt Teg, Jonny Taylor, Zainab Ali Khan, Audrey Duffy, Charlie Russell, Alex Brunati, Faye Planer, Jess Brady, Louella Person, Simon Ward, Marc Collins, and, of course, my absolutely amazing Grierson cohort and group.

The Grierson changed my life, and I will be forever grateful. I highly recommend this scheme to any hopefuls thinking to apply. It will change your life for the better! So take that risk!

Applications for 2022 Grierson DocLab In Focus: Editing are now open. Find out more and apply by 8 July.

Published: 25 May 2022

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