“Brenda’s documentary credits include the IFTA nominated Small Far Away: The World of Father Ted and Crash. Other award-winning doc’s include A Missing Generation: AIDS in Africa, Dead Silence and the critically acclaimed Gilbert O’ Sullivan: Out On His Own. In 2013, she won the IFTA for Best TV Editor for Inside The Department.”
This year Brenda is nominated for her work on “OCD & Me”.
What made you want to get into Editing?
To me TV in the late 80’s and early ’90s was quite exciting especially programmes that were being produced outside Ireland by Channel 4 and BBC2. I thought to myself, I’d love to work on this or that programme. Editing suited my personality I suppose.
What was your first professional job and what led you to where you are today?
My first professional job was as a general dogsbody and office worker in an advertising agency. I absolutely hated it…answering phones, typing letters, inputting invoices. The recession of the early 90’s struck and the company like many others sank…. I was determined to waste no more time and train up for something in the TV industry. I went to Ballyfermot College and did the TV Operations Course. After that I did a placement in FAS on Baggot Street, assisting them in making training videos on a SONY Linear editing system. The first thing I
ever edited was a training video for Tower Crane Drivers! To me it was high art but I’m not sure what the crane drivers made of it. In FAS I got to meet some of the best freelancers in camera and sound and got to drink tea as a client in post houses. From there I was lucky to land a VT op job in Windmill Lane Pictures. I loved every minute of working here. There was a great bunch of operators, editors and production people. I moved into the offline department and Philip Cullen was the editor I seemed to assist the most. I had landed on my feet with Philip as he had me thoroughly involved in all his commercial edits. I learned a huge amount from him in all manners of the job, narrative, expression, pacing, sound. I then became a fully fledged editor and that leads to where I am now. I’ve been freelancing for the past 12 years mainly of TV documentaries and the odd commercial.
What have you found to be the best training for Post production?
Sitting in on edits, grades, onlines and mixes.
With technology in Post moving so quickly, How do you keep up to date with the newest and latest trends?
To be honest technology doesn’t rock my boat but I’m doing ok. I have purchased my own AVID recently and I had to learn how to be self sufficient on a monster sized documentary project. I keep up with technology on a need to know basis.
Where do you look for inspiration and how do you stimulate your creativity when you feel blocked?
I’d like to say I do something clever for inspiration but a power nap or a shower usually brings out the answers…seriously!
How do you approach a scene or sequence that is proving difficult or isn’t quite working?
I like to grab the bull by the horns and go at it all guns blazing ..maybe asking bigger questions like is the sequence in the wrong place? Am I really getting the point? Where should the emphasis be? Sometimes the problem sequence might only truly land on the last hours of the edit.
What do you love most about your job ?
Structure and storytelling is my thing.
What is your biggest gripe about it?
The fact that it is not a family friendly career.
How do you, or have you been able to, create a work/life balance?
This is really tricky.
A lot of editors say that hard work and building relationships has been the key to their success, do you feel this has been the case in your own career?
Definitely in my case..I’m married to my most frequent customer, Adrian McCarthy of Wildfire Films. We have just finished a project called Hidden Impact which aired recently and we also worked on OCD and ME together too.
What are your plans / goals for the future?
No specific plans, I am an editor but also a mother of two kids. To keep all the balls in the air is good enough success for me. I’ll always strive for projects that are relevant with a bit of bite.
What advice would you give someone trying to get into Editing?
My heart goes out to anybody trying to get a foothold in editing. If you can get working as an assistant in a good post house and then make yourself invaluable to the editor that’s really the key. Sit in on edits, study what the editor is doing and ask plenty of questions.