It’s easy for the lion’s share of our spotlight subjects to be in the forefront of their careers; we’re often so engrossed with the main attraction that we overlook those working behind the scenes who we forget are responsible for orchestrating the entertainment we consume. Today, we’re changing our perspective. Scott Ferry-Collins is a VT editor and currently editing for BBC Sport the 2018 World Cup with years of experience across a plethora of genres.
We asked him what the challenges he faced were, having such a prestigious, demanding job while remaining Hull-based: “I’m fortunate enough to be working in sport, but because of the nature of it it’s very rare that where you wake up is where you’ll be working that day. Part of the territory of reporting and broadcasting is travelling to locations. I’ve never covered a match at Hull’s KC Stadium, so everyday you’re on the move. When I made the decision to move back to Hull a few years ago, I rented a place first to see if it felt possible. The logistics of travelling, though not easy, are part and parcel of sport. I’m fortunate enough that if I’m working on Match of the Day, the drive from across the Pennines to Salford is never dull – I’m excited because I’m passionate about it. It doesn’t feel like a job.”
Dedicating his career to TV editing and having the luxury of landing a job that fulfills him, what were Scott’s career highlights leading up to this moment? “Right from the minute I started in TV, sport was always something I wanted to get involved in. I was lucky enough that when BBC Sport moved to Manchester, at that point I was in a lull with TV and I found myself in commercial production which wasn’t really suited to me. Sport moved up and I started doing some freelance work in that field and quickly realised that’s where I wanted to be. I’d built up quite a lot of contacts at the BBC over my years of being staff there, and it was 2012 and I decided I wanted to get involved in the Olympics. So, I contacted some people, and landed a job working for the host broadcaster. It was funny because as a job it wasn’t that creative but as the Olympics started to unfold, and we were doing incredibly well with Super Saturday and stuff like that, to be involved in it is something I look back on and feel nostalgic about it. I’m fortunate to have since done the Rio Olympics, two Winter Olympics, cover the World Cups and European football championships. I’m the BBC VT editor for the World Cup covering the England team, so I’m basically set up in a hotel, either in the team’s hotel or literally around the corner from them. We build a mini-studio, we rent a few rooms, and we build an edit suite and the manager and players come in. As a football fan, it’s amazing. I get to watch England games, which given the performance over the last couple of tournaments might not be so lucky, but as an England fan it’s a dream.”
Working in the creative industries often carries the misconception that you have to be based in a major city to even secure a job, let alone maintain it. How true does Scott find this in his experience? “I don’t believe that you have to move, I don’t think that’s true. However, I do think it will help you massively if you’re willing to chase the jobs. Another thing is, it’s a small industry. I committed to it early, and I decided to go where the jobs are. To do my initial job for four or five years at ITV down in the Channel Islands gave me a lot of good training. I left there to go to the BBC in Leeds, and it was at the time when BBC Hull was just about to open.
I was at BBC Leeds on a fixed-term contract. I said I wouldn’t come back to Hull. I was convinced by my then boss to at least come back and take a look. It was at a time when the city was beginning to change and I thought, you know what, this is a good opportunity for me career-wise. Hull has certainly changed for the better. I was only back for about 18 months and I did then chase the jobs. I still think I would have probably got to where I am now, but it might have taken me quite a bit longer. There are pros and cons to both. But I don’t think you have to move, but it can be beneficial.”
For those of our readers interested in broadcasting and editing, here are the qualities Scott would look for: “Attention to detail. I think it’s easy to say when you work in the creative industries, but one of the things that people overlook in that is that attention to detail: misspelt graphics, stuff like that. It’s almost criminal. It shouldn’t happen. It’s alright making something look all glamorous, all-singing, all-dancing, but if the technical side of it is failing, then it’s not good enough. No matter how creative it is, if the technical aspect fails, it all fails. I think that’s the easy bit. Most stuff that we produce is for television, and in terms of the technical aspect we have to meet, it’s black and white. That is the easy bit. The creative side is harder. There’s jobs that I do sometimes – not too often because I’m fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose – but some of the jobs are a bit mundane. What I’ve noticed over the years is there’s a lack of really good people. One of my big bug-bears is we get given a style guide, telling you what graphics should come on when, and the amount of times I see that that hasn’t been followed is incredibly frustrating. It’s just about getting the attention to detail and technical side of it correct. If you can do that as well as be creative, there’s no stopping you.”
On a personal level, what inspires and influences Scott in terms of motivation and his choices in editing? “Films, definitely. People often think I’ll be really critical of the editing in a film, but the only time I’ll be critical of that is if it’s glaringly rubbish. Content is king. You can pretend you’re the greatest editor in the world, however, if someone brings you terrible material at the end of it you might be able to make it look okay. If the editing is terrible but the story is incredible, you’ll still be engaged by it. The last film that blew me away that might as well be an editing masterclass is Baby Driver – it’s unbelievable how slick that film is. There’s so many ideas you can steal from it. We actually tried to do a bit of a homage to it for the opener of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year. Music videos nowadays, it’s hard man. It used to be the stock of all inspiration, they were so cool, but now it seems that very few are original. I still take a look though. I find that the best inspiration comes from the ideas of younger producers. I’m always keen to ask. They’ll send me links to music videos and while the music is often not for me, the editing and vision definitely works.”
It seems like Scott is at the apex of his career, his work undoubtedly being the envy of many editors and sports fans across the world. What could he possibly wish to achieve next? “I enjoy my job so much, I don’t see it changing. I’ve always been very realistic, and I think anyone who works in creative production who thinks that at the age of 60 they can grab the attention of an 18-year-old is sadly misguided. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for their experience, sharing it by teaching people. The music scene is already slighting drifting out of touch. I think that if I can get another 10 years of what I’m doing I’ll be happy to head to another genre rather than high-impact sports editing. Even the lifestyle, living out of a suitcase, is better suited to a younger person. It’s quite hard work. It’s a technology-based industry, and learning the latest software is part of that – anyone who thinks it’s going to stand still is kidding themselves. If I could get another 10 years of what I’m doing now, I’d be delighted.”
Follow Scott here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100019451552220
See some samples of Scott’s work below:
Interview: Dom Smith | Words: Sophie Walker