RatBlogger : Hi Mike! Can you tell us a little about your role as the editor of Cellar Rats and what that entails?
Mike: Each completed episode of Cellar Rats is made up of lots of short clips. My role as the editor at Cellar Rats is very much like being a cook. I take the various pieces of footage and all the audio recordings and then I weave them all together. Every finished episode can take several months to edit so it is a long process until the raw ingredients are transformed.
RatBlogger : How do you develop the ideas for each episode?
Mike : Having been involved with Cellar Rats almost from the start I have got to know everyone on the team really well which makes communication much easier. In advance of filming we sit down with Malcolm and discuss how he would like the next episode to look. We discuss the locations we will visit and share ideas on how we might be able to capture that story and what we need to weave the footage together into a cohesive narrative. Each high quality episode needs a wide variety of interesting shots to work with when it comes the the edit.
RatBlogger : How is it to be on location?
Mike : It is always fun but very hard work. Because we are a small team, and travel light, we all tend to muck in as required. I might have Malcolm or Tom with me helping with the editing at times and I seem to find myself carrying cameras up hills quite a lot. Once we are all set up I need to make sure we have all the shots, from different angles, which I will need. We are like a small family here at Cellar Rats and so we always pull together. I hope people are really pleased with the results so far.
RatBlogger : What are the biggest challenges you face as editor of Cellar Rats?
Mike: Whilst I enjoy working as part of a small close-knit team the sheer amount of work required to set up every shot can sometimes slow us down a little. Sometimes we need to change plans due to weather and we have to then quickly come up with new ideas. This is the biggest challenge but also one of the things which I love most about this job. It demands that we are all very creative and so no two day are ever alike.
RatBlogger : What kinds of editing “tricks” do you use?
Mike : When I’m editing I’m like a collage artist on a cut and paste mission. For instance I might take the sound coming from the footage of the hot air balloon (Spain clips) and use it as background audio on a completely different shot of the vineyard owner standing close to the balloons. I use a variety of techniques to build soundscapes and these help bring the footage to life. I also create voiceovers which are useful when the audio part of any clip is unclear. I also use them simply just to create narration. The beauty you see on each episode is the wow factor for Cellar Rats and so we don’t need much heavy visual editing. What you see is exactly what we saw! The only visual edits are the cutting and colour correcting of the footage.
RatBlogger : Your favourite moment from working on the show?
Mike : That would probably have to be when we were filming on the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall! I had never been and the weather was almost sub-tropical. We were camping in the backyard of a vineyard owner who threw us a party and he cooked fresh local lobsters and steaks on the Barbie – an incredible meal! We drank delicious wine well into the night then slept in a tipi! The next morning we continued the filming but had to drive around the island in a golf buggy because of the law prohibiting tourists from renting cars on the Isles. It was great fun but very surreal!
I must say that before I started working on the show I wasn’t much of a wine drinker - I preferred beer - but through meeting all of these great people producing wine and learning their stories, and of course having the chance to taste so many wines from different regions, I have come to appreciate it and have learned a lot about it. Wine has really grown on me and my trip to the supermarket is now never the same!
RatBlogger : What is your background? What kind of projects have you worked on in the past?
Mike : My background is quite eclectic. I started off as a journalist before moving over to Sky to work on some of their visuals and film documentaries. I then worked for the BBC as a camera operator, editor and digital imaging technician, for Walt Disney and on various TV projects. I have also been producing my own projects, combining my background in journalism with my love of documentaries, and I’m starting to poke my nose into some interesting places. Watch this space!