Finely Cut: Brendan Jenkins on His Musical and Cinematic Influences LBBOnline – Little Black Book – LBBonline | Episode Movies

Brendan Jenkins has been a permanent member of award-winning editorial house tenthree for nearly a decade. With a particularly keen eye for comedy, structured detail and adept VFX skills, he brings a strong blend of creativity and technique to all projects. Recent collaborations include brands such as Nike, Sports Direct, Axe, Google, John Lewis and Aston Martin. Brendan’s career began in Australia working on George Miller’s Happy Feet 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road, where he developed a real fondness for the Edit Suite. Working on these films instilled in him a strong passion for film and storytelling that flows into every project he edits.

LBB> Why did you join the editorial team? And how has the journey been up until this moment?

Brendan> Mine definitely wasn’t straight forward, I’ve always been a huge film buff but felt the film industry was so far out of reach. But while studying art at university in Australia, I discovered Final Cut Pro and became instantly obsessed. I spent the rest of my art studies making short films, reading books on filmmaking, and pestering the film school next door for cameras to borrow. My world opened up after graduation when I was hired as an assistant editor on Happy Feet 2, directed by George Miller. I spent a lot of time editing alongside George on the motion capture stage, doing rough scene assembly of the motion capture performance. He’s an incredible storyteller and I was like a sponge listening to him. In my spare time I was always creating – editing music videos, short films and anything else I could get my hands on, which mostly happened throughout the night. After HF2 I was sent to the sandy deserts of Namibia to be on the editorial front lines for George’s next film, Mad Max: Fury Road. Take on the task of processing hundreds of hours of footage. After dusting myself off, I was looking for new creative challenges and, like many Australians, this led me to London. Long story short, tenthree has been my creative home for 9 years.

LBB> The first cut is the deepest: What’s your favorite way to start a cutting project?

Brendan> Rushes can vary between rigidly storyboarded and free-flowing, so I always like to stay a little flexible and take every opportunity to adjust my workflow. After my first selection, I do a quick intuitive assembly to find the storyline and sense the tone. This then leads me to a narrower selection. Of course, it’s always important to talk to the director before getting started. I will chat with them and get their thoughts and ideas.

LBB> Non-editors often only think of technical terms, but it’s an integral part of a film’s emotion and mood. How did you develop this side of your craft?

Brendan: You can read a million books on editing theory, but you learn everything in the editing room. The more jobs you do, the more you start to understand what’s important — what do I feel when I look at it, how do I think audiences will react to humor, narrative, or context, does it actually make sense. Also, an objective pair of fresh eyes over the cut always helps me reassess my perspective, as it can get a little lost in the process.

LBB> How important is understanding stories and their mechanisms?

Brendan> That sure is important. And even more if you are limited by certain transmission lengths. It’s a skill I’m constantly honing. In order to tell the story as clearly and concisely as possible, each shot must earn its place in the edit. The reality is that filmmaking is very subjective, and in advertising there are many agendas to consider. You will always get feedback, and sometimes at first it can seem like it contradicts the value of the story you were trying to tell.

LBB> Rhythm and a sense of musicality seem to be essential to good editing (even if it’s a film with no actual music) – how do you feel about the rhythmic side of editing, how do you feel the beats of a scene or spot ? ? And do you like editing to music?

Brendan> I’ve always had a great love for music and seem to have been surrounded by musicians in my life. And I definitely tend to use music to either record or just play in the background while I work. But I also often hit the mute button while watching them to get a sense of the visual rhythm, like in the relationship between flow, performance and action.

With music videos, cutting to the beat and tempo of the track can feel natural and rhythmic. An alternative approach that Joao Retorta and I had for Prospa “Prayer” is to reverse this idea. We had a quick montage up until the music kicks in, and then, at the height of the chorus, where you would expect the cuts to follow the tempo of the music, we cut to long-drawn out takes so the audience can feel the music and feel the rhythm within the performance.

LBB> Tell us about a recent editing project that presented some interesting creative challenges.

Brendan> I love working on jobs that are quite post heavy. I try to do as much rough VFX as possible in the offline phase. A fun project I’ve been working on recently was for Carlsberg directed by Martin Aaumund. The protagonist takes a sip of beer and then continues falling through an imaginary world that represents the different flavors of beer. The actor was filmed on green screen and most of the world he falls through is 3D animation. We worked hard on the timing, animating the actor’s movement and scale. Using the storyboards as background panels, I included as many elements as possible to tell the story and provide a visual guide to the plot that will be created in the post. In situations like this that require a lot of imagination I always find that a decent sound bed is very helpful in getting a sense of tempo and rhythm.

LBB> How important is your relationship with the director to you and how do you approach difficult conversations when there are creative disagreements?

Brendan> An ideal time in the editing room is hard work but also some good D&Ms about life and finding the same side in mood, sight and sound.

In a field so subjective and personal, there will always be conflicting ideas and opinions. Directors are so close to their job because they’ve lived and imagined every single frame, while the editor comes in with a fresh vision. But both sides have an advantage, it’s the creative discussions and debates that lead to bigger ideas.

LBB> Which is harder to work around – too much material or not enough? (And why?)

Brendan> Good question. You can never have enough footage. But there are definitely arguments for quality over quantity. So in this case I take the middle of the road.

LBB> There are so many different movie content platforms these days, and even in advertising, anything can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. As an editor, do you see a change in the type of projects you get from brands and agencies?

Brendan: There seems to be a lot of 15-second versions for this year, whether it’s a series of original films or cutdowns.

LBB> Who are your editorial heroes and why? Which films or spots embody good editing for you?

Brendan> Aside from all of cinema’s great influential editors, I have to mention a recent film adaptation that impressed me – Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, edited by Paul Rogers. Completely cold of what I would experience, I went to the cinema. Broadened my horizons. It’s proof that you can create something highly stylized and still maintain a strong story with hard-hitting drama. And hats off to Paul, who appears to have edited this film in his living room during lockdown.

LBB> What plans or projects are you looking forward to?

Brendan: I recently signed with Uppercut in the US. Having already gone through two projects, I look forward to working in the US market and learning more about the US market.

LBB> Have you noticed any trends or changes in advertising editing over the past few years?

Brendan> Creative transitions like crash zooms and whips, camera tricks and mixed media are common. Shooting on film is still popular, which makes me happy.

LBB> Do you have any tips for young editors who are just starting out?

Brendan> Cut anything and everything. Not every job will land on your reel, but you’ll still learn from each one. It’s a craft that takes time to learn, so trust that the more you do it, the better you get.

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