Tales From the Cutting Room: An Interview with Filmmaker and Editor Christopher Darlington

"The digital revolution opened up filmmaking to everybody, which is wonderful, but it’s still a craft that requires practice and experience."

How Did Your Career Begin?

In 1991, I started volunteering at Red Ochre Productions. At the time, Ken Pittman was developing a couple of projects and I knew I wanted to be part of the industry. So Ken offered me a place in the office to learn what I could. I also got to work on my first couple of films during that time as a PA. The Hall Trilogy, Anchor Zone and a PA on The Boys of St. Vincent.

What Drew You to Picture Editing? 

In 1991, a film called JFK by Oliver Stone came out and it was really a jolt. To this day, the editing stands as one of the best. Just incredible. When I saw that film in theatres, I knew I found something I wanted to do. The following year, I was offered a training position on The Gullage’s TV Series working under Kimberlee McTaggart. It really opened my eyes to what the editor brings to a project. Very exciting.

What Technological Advances Most Fascinated You?

In a sense, it’s been the analog to digital revolution. When I started, 16mm was still the primary capture medium, but within the decade digital started creeping in. I don’t really have a preference. Whatever works for the project and aesthetic is what’s most important. The digital revolution opened up filmmaking to everybody, which is wonderful, but it’s still a craft that requires practice and experience.

What are Some of the Personally Memorable Projects You Edited?

I’ve been lucky to work here in film my whole working life, except for a few years I spent in England, so there are so many wonderful projects I’ve gotten to work on. My first major edit was Anne Troake’s My Ancestors Were Rogues and Murderers. It was my first time editing such a large project. We had one hundred hours of interviews, stock footage, home movies, poems, hand written recollections, radio interviews. It was an ambitious idea to pull this together into a cohesive whole, but I was lucky to be working with someone who had such a firm grasp on what she wanted to do. Her vision carried us along. Similarly, Safe Home with Rosemary House, Crackie with Sherry White and Relative Happiness with Deanne Foley were cases where the director gave me the leeway to bring my own skills and experience to the project. I think the best projects are where the collaborators are trusted to play their roll.

What’s Your Take on the Local Film Scene?

When I started out in 1991, it was a small, close knit community. The community was born in the era of the artistic collectives of the 70s and 80s and NIFCO played a central role. The collective focus has receded and the community has gotten much larger. Thanks to technology, the access to a multitude of films from around the world is inspiring more people to get involved and we are seeing such a wide display of ideas. I think it’s great.

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