Hear directly from the trainees about how it feels to be selected

Athina Chatzidaki (London) 

There’s a way we can think about one another without ever speaking to each other. As complicated as it is for people with great differences to communicate, capturing facets of reality through documentaries is a great means of bridging that divide. Truly, technology in many ways isolates us, but being enabled to consider and reflect on people I will never meet and places I will never see makes it all worth it. Bearing that in mind, my intention in pursuing documentary editing is to contribute to facilitating fertile communication, and creating new discourses. What charges me up is the challenge of managing to communicate to everyone; not just people who are interested in a subject to begin with, but most importantly engaging some of those who aren't. 

To this end, I’m thrilled that through the Grierson DocLab In Focus: Editing training I can expand my practice. Having spent almost a decade cutting and sewing manifold short form content – from branded and promotional films to short documentaries, podcasts, and multi-screen installations – I’m eager to explore the potential of long form post.  

William Hewitt (Edinburgh) 

I’m immensely thankful to be offered this opportunity with Grierson DocLab In Focus: Editing. I’ve been shooting and editing documentaries in a small production company for over 4 years now. The films have been met with critical success, BBC broadcasts and a Scottish BAFTA, however I feel like my skillset as an editor is reaching the limits of what can be self-taught. I’ve never experienced working in an edit house or post-production facility so I can’t wait to start the Grierson training with seasoned professionals guiding us through, then to go on and get placed on a Netflix documentary – it’ll be a life goal achieved! The type of docs I love and find hugely inspiring are The Reason I Jump, The Truffle Hunters, Honeyland and Shabu.
  
Editing is my way of understanding the world around me and my attempt to contribute to it. I have always had to work around my dyslexia, and I think that’s one of the contributing factors to my interest in film with documentaries in particular; I’m far more responsive to audio visual stimulus as opposed to written words and numbers.  

The last documentary I worked on was Long Live My Happy Head, a film which introduces us to the unique talent and unenviable journey of Gordon Shaw, a Scottish comic book artist who is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in his early 30s. It was on this project where I realised the need for a more comprehensive knowledge as an editor – the 90-minute duration was overwhelming to me. Eventually I reached out to the editor of one my all-time favourite documentaries, Garage People, which turned out to be Toennieshen. It was working alongside her where it became clear what was required from the mind of a feature length editor and where my shortcomings exist. You need a higher level of insight and planning with regards to structure, looking with eyes that see both objective understanding of the narrative as well as nuance. I sincerely hope to improve on these aspects with this focussed lab on editing. 

Cleo Howard (London) 

Being accepted onto the Grierson DocLab In Focus: Editing scheme has already given me a huge confidence boost, and I cannot wait to meet the other trainees and hear about their journey so far.   

Being largely self-taught as a self-shooting editor has been an interesting, but at times solitary creative place, especially working in a freelance capacity. This has given me a breadth of experience and taught me how to work with people across the board, and although I’m proud I’ve stuck with it and love the technical side of things, I have been looking for a way to be a part of a larger team to bounce off and learn from. I’m really pleased to now have a chance to focus and sharpen my skill set on such a highly-regarded training scheme and placement.  

This opportunity is particularly exciting because of its focus on documentaries which have been a long-standing passion of mine - I’m often looking for the more obscure and unusual corners of the world and the stories that can unfold there. I’m really looking forward to having a mentor, and learning the craft of storytelling on the job, but also the creative connections that might emerge along the way.  

Acelya Kancelik (London) 

After graduating with a filmmaking BA degree in Istanbul, Turkey, I started working as an AD on TV dramas - a period that saw my career upwardly spiral. This abruptly paused when I relocated to the UK; starting over from scratch in a new country with financial hardship and no industry contacts was a big challenge. A challenge that became exponentially harder when trying to return to work after having children. 

On the upside, it was during this time I truly discovered my love for editing; my happy place. An environment where – like a jigsaw puzzle – piece by piece you develop a story. And while I was trying to get my foot in the door of the UK film industry, a few documentaries I had seen changed the way I looked at filmmaking. I was so moved by the way this medium chases overly critical subjects, with the potential to make a considerable social impact and change perspectives.  

Therefore, I feel extremely privileged and grateful to have been accepted for this amazing scheme. I am confident it will be a game-changer for my career in documentary editing. This training and mentoring model will enable me to enter the industry with greater confidence and ability, learn from professionals while actively working on documentaries, gain a deeper understanding of how the industry works, understand better why editors make the decisions they make and extend my network.   

I am eternally grateful for having been given this opportunity, which I promise to grab with both hands. I cannot wait to meet with fellow participants and industry professionals and to start this journey during a golden age of documentary.  

Samantha Keon (Nottingham) 

It is difficult to put into words how honoured I feel to have been selected for this year's Grierson DocLab In Focus: Editing scheme. The knowledge and resources this training will provide are unparalleled, and I am extremely grateful and excited to see where this journey will take me in my career as an editor.  

For the past five years, I have worked as a freelance filmmaker and editor focusing on documentaries and doc-styled content, predominantly for NGOs and corporate social responsibility content for the international development sector. Since the pandemic, I have been exclusively editing and have fallen more and more in love with the process. From hearing the director's vision, pulling the narrative threads from the material to finding the moments that bring depth, nuance, and heart. It's an addictive puzzle and a skill I would like to develop for the rest of my working life.  

It is a real privilege to be selected to receive this level of guidance and support, and I am excited to connect with the other editors. As a freelancer, building up a network of like-minded creatives can be challenging, so I feel very honoured to be joining the Grierson community.

Iqbal Khokhar (Glasgow) 

I have worked with many production/post-production houses in my short time in the TV/Film industry where I have gained the technical skills required to successfully transition into a creative role. I am currently working at a leading production house based in Glasgow, where our main focus is unscripted documentaries. My passion for documentaries was something that grew over time. I was fascinated by the various methods a story could be told, the creative decisions that bring it to life and the impact they have on people. Documentaries impact each of us in different ways, but the most important thing is getting the documentary out there and provoking people to come to their own conclusions through the knowledge and facts presented.  

I came into the TV/Film industry through a training scheme aimed at people who want to work in TV/Film, but who may have found it inaccessible or even impossible. Before this, I had worked many jobs in education, HR, and marketing. I feel extremely privileged I was selected for the above training scheme and the Grierson DocLab In Focus: Editing scheme, as these opportunities have allowed me to accelerate my career with life changing opportunities and an incredible support package designed to open various industry networks that I would have never had access to without The Grierson Trust. I am excited to meet the 2022 cohort and I cannot wait to get started and share the stories we are passionate about. I would encourage anyone who wants to follow in a similar career path to seek out these opportunities and apply for them.  

Nichole Moss (Bristol) 

This is one of those opportunities where you have to re-read the email a few times for it to sink in. I am so excited. Thank you to Jane, Yen and everyone at Grierson for the thoroughness of the Grierson DocLab In Focus: Editing scheme. Support really seems to be offered at each stage and this is an incredible opportunity to access a wider creative community that is invaluable to my career progression.  
  
I currently work as an Edit and Production Assistant for a small production company and have a bachelor’s from The University of Bristol in Film and Television. The training scheme will allow me to work on a larger scale production, which will really accelerate my rate of learning through troubleshooting/problem-solving and collaborative working on a bigger production than what I’m used to.  
  
I strongly believe that documentaries are one of the most important and powerful creative mediums we have. They not only expose us to stories we might not have previously come across, but tell them in a way that we won’t forget. Did you know that Mexico City has a population of 9 million and there are only 45 public ambulances? I didn’t before watching Midnight Family (Lorentzen, 2019). I might have forgotten that fact if I’d only read it, but it’s hard to forget when you see it in its staggering visual context.  
  
I am thrilled to be moving in the direction of becoming a professional editor, a key player behind the creative storytelling of a film or series, and I am excited to work on productions that amplify voices that are struggling to be heard, and highlight stories that need to be told. I cannot wait to meet the other participants and see where this journey takes us. Thank you!  

Phillip Olweny-Ochwo (Middlesex) 

Ecstatic, keen, and some slight imposter syndrome; these are just a few of the things I’ve thought and felt since being accepted for the Grierson DocLab In Focus: Editing scheme. However, my absolute gratitude for this transformative opportunity has been most prevalent.  
  
I find documentaries to be one of the most transcending mediums for human thought and growth. Through the format, we can establish communities, ignite our curiosity and widen our perspectives on matters concerning truth. These are facets that align with my tenets as a creative, and that’s what inspires my desires and intent to explore the stories I can tell through working on documentaries.  
  
As an editor, I’ve mainly served in digital post-production, and everything I’ve learned has been through an autodidactic process. But I find growth to be strongly connected to mentorship, receiving support and feedback, asking nuanced questions, and receiving direct answers. I’ve never edited a documentary, I’m a complete novice on AVID, but the principles of this scheme give me absolute faith that I, and all the alums, will have the support and guidance necessary to be as great as we can be, and build careers in this industry founded on the right teachings.  
  
There’s so much I’m looking forward to, learning and conversing with and from fellow alums, understanding more about the industry, cutting documentary footage… it’s incredible, and I’m buzzing at the thought of getting started.  
  
Lastly, this is a phenomenal opportunity to show young black creators all the spaces we can exist in. There’s so much more I could say, but I aim to have everything I do going forward say it all. Thank you!  

Published: 8 September 2022

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